The vanilla crisis that began in 1999 has ended, and the versatile ingredient is affordable once again. Rick Brownell, vice president of vanilla products at Virginia Dare, explained at this year's IFT show in New Orleans that vanilla is still the world's most popular flavor and that new producers of vanilla beans have helped to ease the crisis. At one point, vanilla bean prices rose as high as 15-fold, but production is likely to exceed demand for the rest of the decade, stabilizing prices. Also, consumption of vanilla beans is about half of what it was five years ago. In 1999, Madagascar and Indonesia accounted for 90% of the world's production, but now Uganda and Papua New Guinea are significant contributors, with the latter providing the highly coveted Tahitian-type vanilla bean. Virginia Dare, 718-788-1776,