Monday, 23 August 2010

So that’s what they call ‘real’ vanilla?

What do to when the rest of the country is heading out to vote? Inspired by all the bake stalls that would await the punters and the added incentive of celebrating a friend’s birthday I thought it would be a great opportunity to finally try some of the lovely pure vanilla essence I bought in Port Douglas, from Vanilla Australia.

I was enjoying meeting the local merchants at the popular Sunday markets in Port Douglas (sugar cane juice, macadamia nuts abound) when I came across Russell Spanton and his bare table covered with only a few bottles of his vanilla essence left.

Russell is quite the character and we struck up a conversation about his business and he educated me on vanillin extraction. There is something wonderfully satisfying to talk listen to a person speak with passion about their produce. Russell and his wife from Glasgow, Mary, have dedicated the last nine years to growing organic and biodynamic vanilla.   Image courtesy of The Cairns Post

The beans were fine, dark and told of the riches of the vanilla beans that were being grown in the region. Russell discussed his encounters with the CSIRO and the reaction of local growers to their assessment of their vanilla:

 The CSIRO have said our product contains about four times the amount of vanilla than anyone else worldwide

Judging by the reaction of the pushy middle-aged Melbourne woman who shoved me aside to grab a couple of bottles while Russell and I were deep in chat, I figured it must be good. She didn’t bat an eye or slow for small talk (she may have also forgotten she wasn’t in Melbourne at the time!).

My brownie recipe calls for a generous helping of vanilla essence and if anything would test the quality of the vanilla this would. With such fine chocolate and quality butter included in this batch, a syrupy artificially sweetened essence would not be welcome. 

When you open the bottle the scent is immediately ‘clean’ by that I mean instead of the intense sugary smell you get from ordinary dark vanilla essence.  It is also much lighter in colour (no colouring) and you can see tiny black flecks confirming its real seedpod source.

I was told there were no stockists of Vanilla Australia’s essence in New South Wales and frankly given how delicious the brownies turned out I hope local stockists will investigate what a great product this would be on their shelves. Feel like grabbing some for yourself?


Vanilla Australia
+61 7 4099 3380
+61 438 764 103 (mobile)
Captain Cook Highway
Port Douglas
Nth Queensland, Australia

Posted via email from Radhika's posterous


Post a comment

Hey thanks!