Thursday, March 12, 2015

Chef Roberto Cortez Disrupts The Dining Experience

You’ve been eating out all your life, right? You have a pretty good idea of what to expect: teasing appetizers precede savory entrees, which in turn precede sweet desserts. Depending on the type of dining experience, a few additional courses might be thrown in, or not. As frequent diners, we hope the ambiance will be conducive to digestion, but more often than not we are encouraged to move on quickly so tables can be turned. And don’t get me started on what passes for service in most restaurants these days! 
Chef Roberto Cortez not only disrupts your dining expectations, but turns them on end. He starts with the blank canvas of a pop up location. Talented artists and designers create a unique ambiance. Every detail, down to unorthodox utensils, is carefully considered. Culinary collaborators concoct unforgettable dishes and cocktails, coaxing unexpected colors, aromas, flavors, and textures from the best ingredients possible. 

We’re proud to be counted among the exceptional purveyors in Roberto Cortez’ most recent endeavor, Liquid Forms, which used vapor, solid and liquid as conceptual starting points. 
Cocktail for Terre Fondu: Gin, 25 year old balsamic, strawberries with a bergamot and Tahitian vanilla infused Saint Germain foam
Here is an excerpt from Chef Roberto Cortez’ notes for Liquid Forms: “When it comes to taste, liquid acts differently on the palate than solid food. Chewing food becomes a process by which flavors are expelled and discovered in stages as they are released by the teeth. Liquids immediately cover the entire tongue, which in turn activates all taste buds and it’s crevices giving instantaneous flavor delivery. This seems to be a more powerful way to taste as it requires less use of facial muscles, and with this additional brain activity, which stays in a state of “waiting” to see what the food tastes like. This also brings in a subconscious element of expectation and wonder, which deters from the purity of taste and experiencing flavor.”

If you have an open mind, free spirit and playful palate, we encourage you to have your dining expectations not just blown away, but obliterated. Take part in Chef Roberto Cortez’ next CR8 pop up dining installation concept based in Seattle, Washington. Even if you’re not in Seattle, we guarantee you’ll appreciate these gorgeous images of the CR8 events taken by Chef, himself. 

Now that you’re inspired, create your own experiments with Tahitian vanilla. Get the raw materials here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ground Tahitian vanilla beans have a smooth complex taste that is more flavorful than extract

What is ground Tahitian vanilla bean powder?

Our ground vanilla bean powder is 100% pure, whole Tahitian vanilla beans that have been freeze-dried and ground to a powder. That’s it. No additives, sugars, or fillers are added. Our ground vanilla powder is certified kosher by Grand Rabbin in Paris, France.

What it is NOT

Do not confuse our ground Tahitian vanilla beans, which is the same rich, dark, reddish brown color of the vanilla bean, with the light-colored, starch- and/or sugar-filled concoction that some call vanilla powder. That “other” powder bears more resemblance to vanilla sugar than anything else. While it has it’s place, that sugary confection is not what we are talking about here.

Equivalents for Tahitian vanilla beans, extract, and powder

Equivalency depends, as they say, on a lot of things, including your preference. If the vanilla beans are fresh, you might not need as much as if the beans are dry. A plump, moist, aromatic Tahitian vanilla bean can be twice the size of a grocery store bean and twice as intense. Is the vanilla extract natural and gourmet quality, or is it synthetic, imitation or simply flavoring from the supermarket shelves? Is the ground powder made of pure vanilla bean or does it have added sugar, starch or other fillers? You’ll want to adjust accordingly.

Here is a general starting point
a 2” section of vanilla bean = 1 Tsp vanilla extract = ½-1 Tsp ground vanilla bean powder.

Storage and shelf life

Stored properly, the shelf life of ground Tahitian vanilla bean powder is in excess of two years. Keep it in an airtight container, in a cool, dry, dark place and avoid extreme temperatures. Do not refrigerate or freeze.

How to use ground Tahitian vanilla bean powder

Ground vanilla bean powder is potent. Because it is twice as strong, you only need to use half as much ground vanilla bean powder in place of vanilla extract. And because the rich flavor is condensed, purchasing ground vanilla bean powder means you’ll get more bang for your buck.

Ground vanilla bean powder can be used in combination with Tahitian vanilla extract for a complex, layered effect. Vanilla flavors can sometimes be muted when heated, but the wonderful nuances are still there. In some cases, a bit more vanilla is added at the end of cooking to add another layer of flavor. 

Ground vanilla bean powder is best used in dry applications, or to dust the top of ice cream, gelato, brownies, blondies, cookies, cakes, pies, or even cappuccino.  Here are a few more ideas:
  • Put a pinch of ground vanilla beans in coffee, hot chocolate, cocoa, tea, and smoothies. 
  • Make Tahitian vanilla sugar by adding a quarter tsp to a cup of any type of sugar. We love to add a little bit to powdered sugar and using that to top off desserts!
  • Make Tahitian vanilla salt by adding a quarter tsp to a cup of any type of salt. 
  • Put a pinch in yogurt or milk.
  • Whip up a batch of homemade vanilla bean body butter.
  • Add a pinch to maple syrup.
  • Add a pinch to butter.
  • Dust your jam, marmalade, or lemon curd with it.
  • Sprinkle on fresh fruit.
  • Sprinkle on toast (with or without cinnamon and sugar).
  • Add a pinch to your morning cereal.
  • Dust cookies with vanilla instead of sugar

But don’t take our word for it. Wolfgang Puck’s Executive Pastry Chef Marian Getz says, “I am addicted to the new, freeze-dried, ground vanilla bean powder, because it's wonderful and so darn easy to use. I find myself using the ground vanilla beans everywhere. Its amazing stuff!” Read more about what Chef Getz says about Tahitian vanilla: Exec Pastry Chef Marian Getz: From the Congo to Wolfgang Puck’s Kitchen, Tahitian Vanilla Myths Busted by Executive Pastry Chef Marian Getz

Now that you know ground Tahitian vanilla beans have a smooth complex taste that is more flavorful than extract, what are you going to create with it? Bake with love. Bake with Vanilla From Tahiti. Order online.