I appreciate true vanilla flavors, and I don't write the flavor off as bland. I also appreciate Fortini's writing in defending the precious, expensive stuff (the real stuff, that is). For example:
And suddenly I had a vanilla epiphany. The rice, a truly bland food, forced the vanilla to take center stage. But vanilla is essentially a supporting actor. It is a sociable flavor, at its best when bringing out the best in other distinct ingredients, softening their acidity, drawing out their intensity, helping them to cohere. This is why baked goods made without vanilla lack depth and dimension, like music without a bass line.
She packs a lot of metaphors in this one passage, but I don't think she goes overboard with them. It is a smooth, readable writing style in defense of a smooth, delicious flavor. And I like it.