When you think of vanilla, do you think of French Polynesia?
I do. My memories are filled with the aromas and flavors of the South Pacific. These islands are truly full-on sensory experience and must be visited at least once during your lifetime.
One aroma and flavor that was infused throughout my experience was vanilla. I spent a glorious two weeks among the islands of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, and Le Taha’ a, which are part of the Societal Islands of French Polynesia. These are the most well-known and tourists, but the country is actually made up of 118 islands and atolls. While visiting, I found vanilla in my lotions, oils, meals, and cocktails.
While Tahiti is no longer a major exporter of their vanilla, it is considered a “luxury” vanilla due to its properties and rarity. Unlike other countries that grow vanilla, the vanilla in Tahiti has the distinction of being hand pollinated. It has become a very distinct part of the culture. The best-known location for its cultivation is Le Taha ‘a, otherwise known as the “vanilla island.” The bean is highly sought out by Parisian chefs and visitors as well.
I brought home my own beans from Le Taha’ to replicate the infused vodka I fell in love with at the resort bars. They had a variety of flavored infusions, but truly the vanilla was my favorite. Infusion of the bean into the alcohol is easy. The only hard part is waiting for it to be ready to drink!