See how flowers turn into flavor in Hawaii
Most of the world’s vanilla, the second most expensive spice after saffron, grows in exotic places like Madagascar and Tahiti.
But a little bit of it—America’s only commercial crop—thrives on Hawaii’s Big Island, raised by the Hawaiian Vanilla Company in Paauilo. If you visit, you can tour the farm and see the gorgeous vanilla orchids that produce the pods we use as spice.
Raising them is a painstaking process, since the orchids are hand-pollinated and only bloom one day per year—and just for
a few hours. To enjoy a full-on immersion in vanilla, sign up for the Hawaiian Vanilla Experience Luncheon, which includes
a tour of the farm and a multi-course lunch highlighting vanilla in every dish. While you’re waiting, here’s one of our favorite
recipes using Hawaiian vanilla: