At Red Bee Apiary in Weston, Connecticut you can spend an afternoon with Marina Marchese, who educated us about honey, honey bees, and how to pair the honey with food. Marina will enlighten you about how she became interested in bees and honey.
Marina took us on a tasting journey where we discovered the unique sensory qualities of 6 single varietal U.S. honeys. Each being somewhat rare and coveted for their distinctive flavor profile. We learned that honey bees play a vital role in our food chain, pollinating one-third of the food we eat and producing a wide range of artisanal honeys.
Throughout the sampling Marina explained the characteristics of each honey and how the honey will take on the flavor of the flower from which the bees obtain the nectar. Marina described how she selected a variety of cheeses, fruit, and chocolate to pair with the alfalfa, thistle, wildflower, red currant, blueberry, and buckwheat honeys we were tasting.
Marina has introduced the concept of terroir, the notion that soil, weather, and other natural phenomena can affect the taste of honey. As with wines, knowing the terroir of a honey varietal helps to inform an understanding of its flavor.
Like wine, cheese, coffee, and chocolate, honey has emerged as an artisanal obsession. Its popularity at farmers’ markets and specialty food stores has soared as retailers are capitalizing on the trend.
The finale of the sampling was fresh honey right from the honeycomb paired with cinnamon butter glazed toast with fresh blueberries and nuts.
Marina has published a book called The Honey Connoisseur. This book is a comprehensive introduction to the origin, flavor, and culinary uses of more than 30 varietals of honey, from ubiquitous clover to tangy star thistle to rich, smoky buckwheat. The Honey Connoisseur teaches consumers everything they need to know about how to taste, select, and use a diverse selection of honey.
The book goes on to give a thorough course in the origins of more than 30 different honeys as well as step-by-step instructions, how to taste honey, describe its flavor and determine what other flavors pair best with a particular honey.
It was an enjoyable afternoon sampling a variety of honeys and their pairings while learning about honey. Marina offers several different workshops at Red Bee Apiary where one can sample various honeys from not only the US but other countries as well.