We have a fantastic ice cream shop just down the street - Xanath - well known in the area for having some of the best vanilla ice cream in town as well as other incredible flavors, including saffron, saffron ginger and dry cherry to name a few! Each time we visit this shop they offer us a single vanilla bean (it's sort of their calling card) - to remind us that they sell restaraunt quality beans and saffron in addition to their yummy yummy ice cream! I got the vanilla beans for my extract from Xanath, and recommend that's where get your beans too.
Did you know that vanilla beans come from orchids that are hand pollinated? The seed pods that develop are hand picked and the curing process takes months. Knowing this helps me understand why it's the second most expensive spice!
Another interesting fact: the FDA regulates vanilla extract by bean weight, not bean quality, so you never know what you are getting when purchasing mass produced extract. Making your own vanilla extract ensures that it will be free of the artificial colors and the corn sweeteners found in even high-quality vanilla extracts.
Click on the links to order these supplies online:
The labels I designed were created with ephemera inspirations offered through my friend Karen at www.graphicsfairy.blogspot.com. She has an amazing collection of old pharmacy labels, clip art and all kinds of neat images that can spruce up any project!
In the San Francisco area? Be sure to go Xanath and get some ice cream; I highly recommend the saffron ginger shake! They're in the heart of the Mission district on Valencia St.
951 Valencia St.