In a large, wide saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla bean to a simmer.
To make the meringues: In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff but not dry. Scoop up several large serving spoonfuls and poach on the simmering milk, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on serving plate. Repeat until all the egg whites have been used.
To make the creme Anglaise: in another large mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until light and ribbon-y. Add the warm milk to the egg yolk mixture and return to the saucepan. Cook, over low heat, stirring constantly without letting it come to a boil, until mixture thickness and coats back of spoon. Strain and flavor with rum and vanilla extract. Ladle creme Anglaise around poached meringues.
To make the Caramel: in a small saucepan, cook the remaining 1 cup sugar until caramelized, stirring constantly. Stir in the almonds. Turn off heat, being careful not to burn the caramel. Carefully spoon caramel over the meringue.
Recipe courtesy of Wolfgang Puck, 2001