Once upon a time, making plans to travel was so easy. One call to a travel agent with destination, budget, and perhaps a few sights you would like to see or activities you’d like to engage in, and arrangements were effortlessly made for you. Now we spend more time surfing the net to book, than we do surfing the seas.
Tatjana and I have both worked grueling hours this year, and want to just flop on a beautiful beach somewhere in the tropics to be celebrate her 25th birthday. The most strenuous activities I wish to involve myself in are a bit of swimming, a sunset horseback ride on the beach and a few spa treatments. Once we feel rejuvenated I’m sure a wee bit of sight-seeing and a spot of shopping will be in order too. I can’t tell you where we are going yet, but I will tell you where we are not.
French Polynesia is my idea of paradise. I’ve been wanting to go there for decades. Crystal clear water, long expanses of white sand beaches, lush jungle-like greenery, and bright flowers punctuating scenic volcanoes. Idyllic… until you actually try to book it, even when you are willing to spare no expense!
The farce resembled a scene straight from Couples Retreat – I imagined Jean Reno at the other end of the telephone line -all arrogant and rigidly unaccommodating. I spent an entire day finagling what was evidently the only hut on stilts over the water (with glass bottom floor that opens to feed the multi-colored fish) available in Bora Bora – only to find there were no seats on the flights for the dates we had booked. None, nada, not in any class of service.
Disappointed, but determined (and ready to swim there if I had to) I figured “where there is will there is a way.” Two more days, a ton of phone calls and still more deep breaths I managed to book us two coach seats nonstop to Papete where we would overnight, and catch the first shuttle out to Bora Bora the next day. Triumphantly, I rang the hotel only to be told our room had been “released to another guest.”
What’s a gal to do? Eat ice cream of course! For now, we’ll have to settle for tasting the South Seas with this Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream recipe in anticipation of reveling in an equally exotic yet different locale far, far away. Where will your taste buds be traveling this summer (don’t forget to pack your flower t-shirts)? Perhaps your summer holidays will inspire the menus of your Get Your Party Accomplished ON contest entries?
TAHITIAN VANILLA ICE CREAM
There are three main kinds of vanilla bean; Madagascar, Mexican, and Tahitian which hails from French Polynesia and happens to be the fruitiest and sweetest of the vanilla beans, making it perfect for desserts. Since we started with French Polynesia, I decided to make this ice cream as the French would – starting with a creme Anglaise custard, and resulting in a very rich and creamy ice cream.
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar, divided
8 egg yolks
2 teaspoons Tahitian vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean)
1). In a small heavy saucepan bring cream, milk, and 1/2 cup of the sugar to a slow boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.
2). Whisk eggs in a small bowl. Temper by adding 1/3 of the hot milk mixture in a slow stream whilst whisking constantly. Transfer mixture back into same saucepan, and set over low heat, stirring and scraping down the sides of the pan with a small heatproof spatula until thickened. Do not boil. Cook until the custard coats the back of the spoon. Pour custard into a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl to strain out any bits. Stir in the vanilla.
3). Chill custard for at least 4 hours to overnight.
4). Freeze the custard, according to manufacturer instructions, in an ice cream maker for 30-45 minutes. Transfer soft ice cream to an airtight container and keep in the freezer to firm up.
Serve on it’s own, or with any topping, cake, or cookie of your choice.
At the point in which you add the vanilla, you could add any flavor of your choice instead or in addition to (cocoa, caramel, coffee etc.). One the ice cream is half frozen you could also stir in any mix-ins you would like (chocolate chip, fudge or fruit ribbon, nuts etc.).
Bora Bora photo courtesy of http://www.tahiti-tourisme.com/