I've been told that the Mexican vanilla is MUCH better than what we can buy in U.S. However, I've also heard stories of people buying it in Mexico, then finding it had been watered down. Any suggestions as to how to tell if it''s the "good stuff", or the best place to purchase it?
When we were on our cruise last year I picked up a bottle of Xalkan vanilla at the pier for $7.00 US for 250 ml. compared to $35 CDN for a 125 ml. bottle of Madagascar Vanilla that I find at home. I like the vanilla very much but remember it does not taste like the Madagascar vanilla that you are used to. The Mexican one has overtones of cinnamom to it. Try out the Mexican vanilla ... the price is not prohibitive and it's worth a taste. Hope this helps. Check out this link that talks about Mexican vanilla.
I always buy vanilla in Cozumel. Even if Agua (Water) is the first ingredient listed, it still has a richer flavor than our vanilla. Los Cincos Soles always has good prices. Try if you can to get vanilla that has vanilla bean listed as its first ingredient. We have a Mexican grocery store in our town and they sell vanilla too. It's pretty cheap, $1.89 for about 4 oz. Haven't used it yet, but the ingredients are listed as Vanilla Bean in extract, Alcohol 35%............wonder how that will taste??? You just can't go to Cozumel without buying vanilla and something silver!
I usually buy Tlilxochinin (or something like that). It is coumadin free and comes in small bottles that start around $3. Buy one, open it up and see what you think. Then go back and buy more cause you're gonna' wish you had if you don't!
Also check out the pewter at La Pinata. Fabulous serving trays for $30-$50.
Also - the vanilla is a small, easy to carry souvenier to take home to friends. Forget the tequilla - buy vanilla!
If you buy vanilla in a store with a "higher class" appearance and service, the vanilla is still inexpensive and very good. I've bought several times in Mexico and always enjoy it, although I don't if it's any better than the vanilla I buy at home....but it IS much cheaper!