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?


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)


Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream


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/

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  • July 24, 2011
    12:07 pm

    Beautiful pics! What a gorgeous place and so worth the effort!
    Home made ice cream is SO worth the effort and that brand of vanilla is the best. The pictures in the video were great too… love the one of the eggs being tempered with a swirl of cream.

  • July 24, 2011
    11:38 am

    my sister in law is a travel agent and i can tell you that that market is in dire need of customers. Sure you save a wee bit of money doing it yourself, but look at the headaches you endured and still got no where. I am not sure that would have happened with a travel agent booking it. They form relationships with these resorts and the people there in. People power is a lot stronger than internet power. Wish we could all learn that… technology is nice but it does not replace person to person dealings.

    • July 24, 2011
      1:54 pm

      Actually, a travel agent would not have been interested in this trip Laura, because we are using points to pay for most of it.

      • July 24, 2011
        2:06 pm

        One of the many perks of being a personal chef is I purchase all my clients groceries on my credit card, so points add up quickly.

  • July 24, 2011
    2:04 pm

    I’ll get there one day Rachel – nice to have someplace beautiful to look forward to anyhow. Which type of vanilla do you like to use when baking?

    • July 25, 2011
      9:16 am

      I love the Nielsen-Massey brand and have always used the Madagascar Bourbon but will be trying the Tahitian next. Their beans are always fresh and beautiful too. There is a place in Canada that ships this brand so I use them. TO be honest, I started using it because I was/am a huge Martha Stewart devoutee… not quite as “militant Martha” as my friends used to call me. Although at my wedding, my best friend and husband’s best man stated that it looked like an explosion of Martha Stewart and her wedding magazines! LOL It’s nice to have balance though as not everyone can afford what Martha suggests!

  • July 25, 2011
    9:03 am

    aw, Jewels what a bunch of headaches! But you do have the perfect panacea. Your ice cream recipe is out of control. Doing it this weekend!! I’ll be in touch with the results!!

  • July 25, 2011
    10:41 am

    All of the photos are beautiful and the ice cream looks amazing. I can almost smell the vanilla.

    • July 26, 2011
      6:52 pm

      Just made a vegan version with cashew cream tonight. Going to serve it with a rum pineapple sauce over the top. If it gets the thumbs up from guinea pig #1 I’ll post.

  • July 26, 2011
    12:41 am

    budding chef but vanilla buds may b stretching my competence……….. as not exactly a pru leith disciple………….but keen to improve as single and like to cater to discerning and beautiful ladies tastes!

    • July 26, 2011
      6:53 pm

      You don’t need to use the vanilla bean – you can buy vanilla extract (saves having to dig all the seeds out of the pod).

  • July 26, 2011
    6:50 pm

    Going to a bulk food store on Saturday, so I’ll look for vanilla beans there. Might just be the best vanilla cupcakes I ever make. I’ve always used the pure vanilla in a bottle, never the actual bean, so this will be a new adventure! 🙂 Never been anywhere exotic, not much of a traveller I’m afraid. At least I can look at your pictures and dream. I know that you and Tatjana will have a blast no matter where you go. Hugs to both of you for being the best mother/daughter team!

  • July 26, 2011
    6:54 pm

    Ruthee you are so creative and such an adventurous eater you can make the recipes, close your eyes, and be there.