Vanilla: The New Trend Of The World


This is not a time for beating around the bush. A fascinating partner for that vanilla cream is rum from the isle of Negros in the Philippines. Its fruity taste contains more than a hint of vanilla itself, so one is not just uniting two islands but two utterly compatible ingredients. Don Papa Small Batch Rum costs £33 at Majestic. Another idea is Gosling’s Black Seal Bermuda Black Rum. This costs £24 and is altogether drier, rummier, and more potent. But rum is a heavy spirit and you may prefer something less fiery. I suggest Sicily’s sublime contribution to sweet-wine culture: Marsala. The specimen I recommend Curatolo Marsala Superiore Dolce, which has a soothing raisiny quality with a hint of baked cream.

Marsala Wine
Marsala Wine

Utterly scrumptious with our pudding, either poured over it or drunk with it, this costs a ridiculously reasonable £11.29 (again at Waitrose).To my mind (and palate), it’s the greatest dessert-wine bargain on any UK shelf But what of dishes where that vanilla is sneaked into a sauce for white fish or in a similar role with meat? Restricted to an island for my source, I have no hesitation in homing in on Sicily yet again and choosing the wines of the Planeta Estate. These are available from the Great Western Wine wineCompany of Wells Road in Bath.

For the fish, I suggest Planeta’s gorgeous Chardonnay 2014 which, by any standards, is a remarkably luxurious expression of this grape. More elegant, complex, and exciting than many a much-vaunted white burgundy, it costs £23.50.

Even without the stipulation that all these wines must be insular, I would unhesitatingly recommend this beautifully textured white wine. It has that rare quality: intensity with finesse.

For the duck breast, a red is required and we are going to be a mite extravagant. I am going to assume it will be served for a dinner party. The recommended wine, therefore, comes in a magnum (1.5 litres) and it is Planeta’s Santa Cecilia 2010, made from the Nero d’Avola grape indigenous to Sicily. This is a dark, brooding wine of autumnal leafiness and textured spiciness, yet with an ineffable sense of place. As it is an Italian red, it surely has some of Africa in it – warm, sunny, congenial, laidback, yet seriously provocative. At £60, this is a wonderful bottle for a dinner party. Indeed, placed in the middle of any dinner table, it makes a beautiful island by itself.


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