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National Real Vanilla Day

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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An Exploration of True Flavour
national vanilla day, bickleigh castle
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Vanilla is the most common flavouring used in the UK. It is used to flavour cakes, biscuits, ice cream, and is also used to scent candles, perfumes, and other beauty products. Despite this, a lot of people say that vanilla tastes plain, that it has no flavour. This is a wide misconception brought upon us by industries taking shortcuts.

Many commercial products don't use artificial vanilla - stuff that is chemically synthesised - because it's cheaper. Well, you get what you pay for. If you buy vanilla essence (artificial) you might be able to smell it in the bottle, but any flavour will be completely lost when mixed with other ingredients. That's because vanilla essence has just one compound, where as vanilla extract has over two-hundred-and-fifty.

National Real Vanilla Day exists with the aim of promoting awareness of what vanilla truly is, and what it should be like. On the 17th & 18th October a celebration of vanilla will be held at Bickleigh Castle. It will be hosted by LittlePod, a company that makes natural vanilla paste from the natural seeds and extracts of twenty whole vanilla pods. This makes it the most concentrated vanilla product on the market, meaning you need to use a third of the amount as with other products.

The two-day even will feature chef demos, book signings, children's cooking, and talks. Not only will you get treats like a chocolate & Guinness cake, but you'll also discover how vanilla can be used in savoury dishes too. Examples include sea bass with a vanilla vinaigrette, steak with vanilla sauce, and sweet potato curry.

LittlePod will also be running a bake-off competition. It is open to all ages, and the only rule is 'keep it real'. Bring your entries along on the 18th October for the chance to win gift hamper worth 100.

Children under thirteen are free, although cooking classes are 2. Tickets for adults are 25 for one day, 45 for the weekend, and 35 for a three-course supper and talk. If you want to do everything, then an all inclusive weekend with B&B, two lunches, and two suppers is 175.
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Why? Learn how to get the best out of vanilla
When: 17th & 18th Oct
Phone: 01395 232022
Where: Bickleigh Castle
Cost: 25 - 175 adult, Free - 2 child
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