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Honey connoisseurs...

Recently, I read a post here about Leatherwood Honey that intrigued me, so I went out and got me some. Really, really delicious stuff. Nuanced, layers of flavor, exotic, ambrosial. Pricey, too, but worth it.
Occasionally, I like to take a spoon of a really good honey as a treat, all by itself. Some honeys, like the Leatherwood, are as delicious in their complexity as great red wines.
I was wondering if anyone else out there seeks out specialty honey's, and would they share about them.

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  1. Whenever I travel I try to bring home at least one local honey as a souvenir -- the gift to myself that keeps on giving. A couple that have really stood out were a chestnut honey from Tuscany (which I didn't get myself, but my daughter brought home for me -- thanks, kid!) -- deeply sweet with a little bit of a bitter undertone, dark and heavy; and a honey I bought at the Chieso di San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, made from the flowers of a plant that grows in a salt marsh on the island where the church is located -- almost black in color, not terribly sweet, probably the most interesting-tasting honey I've ever had. Amazing stuff, honey.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ozhead

      I was a beekeeper for about 6 years or so, (in central PA) and it always amazed me how the flavours of the honey from my own bees varied so widely from year to year, and of course, depending on the time of season and what was in bloom. Generally, I could never be completely sure what the bees were going after in terms of nectar sources, but some honeys that we extracted were absolutely delicious with a rich, almost buttery quality and subtle undertones of vanilla and other interesting elements. Other times, we ran into some really not so wonderful honeys. Not inedible, but probably best suited for baking or something where the flavour of the honey is not necessarily in the forefront.
      I can't say I have sampled many of the world's unique honeys, but the variety available from US sources alone (individual beekeepers, not mass bottlers!) makes me quite curious to continue sampling, and try some more exotic things, chestnut honey, white pine honey (actually a honeydew honey) and heather honey, to name a few.

      1. re: ozhead

        I've also brought honey back as a souvenir (just remember to pack it carefully!). I brought chesnut honey back from Italy as well, and when I visit my family in England, there's an apiary near my aunt's house that sells local honey. I wish I'd run across that salt marsh honey when I was in Venice (so many churches, so little time!).

        Marshall's in Napa is fabulous -- they've been selling at Bay Area farmers' markets for years, and tasting their range of honeys really opened up my eyes to how different honeys can be. They sell dozens of honeys from hives all over Northern California. Visiting their farm is a real trip -- there's a thread about it on the Bay Area board this week.

        There are some other local honey producers at Bay Area farmers' markets -- Snyders Honey from La Honda has some interesting honeys. The one I bought was Tanbark Oak Honey -- it's a delicious medium-weight honey with a lovely reddish amber color. Tanbark oak is a Pacific coastal forest species, and isn't really an oak at all -- it's actually related to the chestnut.

        1. re: ozhead

          I'll never forget the foret (forest) honey I bought by the side of the road on the way to (or was it from?) Avignon in France. It took the experience of honey way beyond anything I had ever tasted. I treasured it and horded it, but it is long gone except in memory. Going to Tuscany next month and I hope to make another amazing discovery.

        2. Hubby is a big fan of Tupelo Honey which is only available once a year and is only produced in the Southeastern US. I find it very delictae and floral.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Honey Bee

            Tupelo is my favorite also! It is mostly produced in the Florida Panhandle (Appalachicola river basin) where the majority of the White Tupelo trees are located in the river and swamp areas.

            If you like Tupelo, then suggest you try Sourwood.

             
          2. I'm a honey lover too - I make a point to buy it where ever I travel, if it's someplace that seems like it may have good honey.

            Was in Napa recently at Ad Hoc restauarant (Thomas Keller's new place) where they served an amazing honey as part of the cheese course. I wouldn't let them take the dish of honey away from me until I'd licked it clean. I asked where they got it from and they told me it was from a local honey guy, Marshall's Farm and that the small grocer down the street carried it.

            As soon as we were finished with dinner, we headed to the store, which was thankfully still open. They only had 2 jars left and we scooped them up. It's their Napa Valley Wildflower - intense, rather on the dark side and when you get it in the jar, it's kind of thick, unfiltered and there is pollen still in it so it has a grainy texture. You need to warm it up to use it in recipes or spoon over other foods. But, truthfully I've been just eating spoonfuls of it as is :-)

            They have a lot of other varieties and some other people on the CA board have tried many of them and rave about all of them

            Thankfully, they are online so I won't have to fly out to CA to stock up again:

            http://www.marshallshoney.com/

            1 Reply
            1. re: sivyaleah

              I'm so glad that I stumbled upon this thread! I was sitting back having a cup of tea and I read your post. I can't fathom what made me run to my cupboard. But lo and behold my favorite Orange Blossom honey was made by Marshall's Farm. I love orange teas and the honey definitely kicks it up a notch! Thank you for posting the url. I will definitely be purchasing more from them.

            2. Howboy - if you still have some Leatherwood Honey, you should try using it in this Wholefoods recipe for Chinese 5 Spice and Honey Roasted Chicken. I have made it several times with Leatherwood honey and the flavor is addictive.

              http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recip...

              I bought the honey after reading an article about it in Gourmet and am now day dreaming about a trip to Tasmania to see the Leatherwood forests. Wow is that good stuff.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ExercisetoEat

                Thanks for the tip, I'm looking for a good recipe to make this weekend...

              2. I am also a honey nut, bring it back from everywhere I go. My favourite was a buckwheat honey that I found in Ontario in the mid 70s. I will never forget the flavour and smell. I managed to find some recently in florida and it isn't quite the same.