Am I the only one who didn't know...
... how great eBay is for finding expensive ingredients that aren't expensive?
I just ordered a dozen Tahitian vanilla beans for $2.75. With shipping, it came out to less than $5. For a dozen of the suckers. The grocery store sells vanilla beans for $10/package. And only 2 or 3 beans are included in a package. Granted, those are Madagascar beans, but I've always wanted to try the Tahitian ones.
I nearly bought a bag of pink salt as well, but didn't want to go too crazy.
I have bought vanilla beans on eBay in the past. Probably the same seller. I got something like 1 pound for 19.99 from some organic trade company in Tahiti. They are fantastic! Took me about 3 months to get through the 1 pound, and I immediately ordered more.
You will not be disappointed!
Yes, I buy a lot of "expensive" ingredients on Amazon or Ebay - dried porcinis, for example, can be had for like $35 a pound instead of $5 an ounce at the grocery store. Spices are also often a great deal on Amazon as long as you don't mind getting a fairly large quantity. BTW, JR Mushrooms (the seller of my beloved dried porcinis) also sells Madagascar vanilla beans which are EXCELLENT - $10 for 16 beans, or $17 for a quarter pound (about 27 beans according to them).
I did not know that - will go search ebay.co.uk and see if they have similarly good opportunitites. My main ebay obsession has up until now been le creuset focused but would love to branch out =)
Update: My vanilla beans arrived today. They're very fresh and smell amazing. Bright and fruity. I took them out of the package to count and inspect and now my hands smell like vanilla. I'm not complaining. I can't wait to make something with them!
Let us know when yours come, loraxc. If the seller's beans are consistently good, I can see myself ordering quite a few from them. Did anyone else look at the whole store on eBay? It's... interesting. They seem to specialize in vanilla beans and dishwasher parts.