Saffron is the most seductive and mysterious of spices. It perfumed the halls of ancient Crete palaces, made Cleopatra more alluring and decorated the royal tables of Persia. Resistant to modern technology, the fragile blossoms are gathered by hand – as they have been for thousands of years – from historic fields within Iran, India, Greece, Spain and Italy.
Aromatic vanilla pods have been used for centuries – indigenous to Mexico, the Mayans valued the spice as much as they did cacao. They considered it to be an aphrodisiac as well as a useful way to flavour hot cacao drinks. Spanish explorers introduced vanilla to the rest of the world. While in its native lands, the vanilla fruit pods are pollinated by humming birds, it must be pollinated by hand in other tropical countries. This handling, along with the time taken for drying and processing, makes the beans expensive.
We have sourced the very best Tahitensis vanilla from New Guinea – 18.5 cm long, plump, pliable and juicy, dark chocolate brown/ black in colour and with an intense vanilla aroma.