Brazilian Pepperwood honey from CaliforniaI was down in Los Angeles visiting my mother and my sister and her family earlier this year and managed to visit the farmer’s market off of Hollywood Boulevard before I left. This amazing honey was the prize. The label says that it “has a rich, vibrant flavor, from the nectar of this familiar tree that blooms throughout California in the late heat of summer.” It also says “cold packed, never heated”. The company Honey Pacifica hails from Long Beach, CA. They sell pine tree honey that I would love to get my hands on. Perhaps next trip…

Tasting

Every time I taste this I can’t believe it’s actually honey. I put it in my mouth and think “kumquat reduction”. It’s really more like a sweet fruit sauce than honey. It’s runny, though the bottom of my jar is now slowly crystalizing by becoming thicker. The fruit smell jumps out of the jar. It reminds me of musty peaches, cooked down. It’s quite a strong flavor, so I’m guessing it would be good on something that could take it, like ice cream, or pancakes (or ice cream and pancakes…).

Honey Tasting: Rhododendron Honey from Italy

Rhododendron honey from ItalyHere’s another one of my ridiculous honey purchases. It’s an itsy bitsy jar, but it’s from Rhododendron flowers, so I had to try it. It’s imported from Italy by forevercheese, who list a bunch of other interesting honeys on their site. I should probably be thankful that the jar is small – I have so little room left to store more honey.

 

 

 

Tasting

This honey comes on with a nice fruitiness. Its flavor sticks around a while and coats my tongue. In the background is a soft floral quality that makes this altogether more rich that it first seems. It smells good in the jar. It’s not especially exotic but it’s decidedly satisfying.

Where to get it

I got this at the Paris Grocery near the Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Honey Tasting: Corsican Scrub

Here’s an exotic-sounding thing that naturally got my attention: honey from the island of Corsica, from the nectar of “Corsican Scrub”. It’s a tiny jar for $10, but oh well, I had to try it.

Tasting

Corsican Scrub HoneyThis honey is dark red and is quite viscous. There isn’t much in the way of aroma, and the flavor is not especially complicated, but it’s a very nice rich flavor. It’s malty and rather like molasses and caramel. The French on the label also claims licorice and fruit flavors, but I don’t sense any of that. There is no mention of this honey being raw, so I wonder if it has been pasteurized, and if so, I also wonder what the original is like. In any case, I’m glad I got it but in this incarnation I’m not going to say it’s essential.

Where To Get It

I got this at Big John’s PFI (Pacific Food Importers) in Seattle, where you can find many interesting imported honeys.

Honey Tasting: Aster Honey from New York

Aster honey from New York stateThis is likely the only honey I have from New York state. It’s Aster Flower honey, which I had never heard of when I picked it up. The company is “Bee Raw“, which specializes in honey that’s raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized, and even unblended. Their website looks suspiciously professional (I expect nothing but clunky 1997 websites when it comes to local raw honey), but based on this example I think they are not kidding. This is good stuff. The label on top says the honey came from “numerous species of late summer blooming Aster flowers”.

 

 

Tasting

You can smell this honey right away; it’s a kind of musty old flowers smell, like visiting grandma’s house. My jar came crystallized in a chewy way like my jar of alfalfa honey did, making it fun to eat. On the tongue it’s caramel sweetness is cut with a prominent savory herbal quality, and that old flowers smell permeates the experience. It turned out more rich and complex than I thought it was going to be. The label says “notes of thyme and eucalyptus”, and I agree. It’s a keeper.

Where To Get It

I found this at the Paris Grocery, in Seattle below Pike Place Market on Western Ave. You can also order direct from the Bee Raw website.

Honey Tasting: 2013 Columbia Gorge Wildflower

Columbia Gorge Wildflower 2013In my previous post I talked about how honey from the same place can vary from year to year. Here is a perfect example: the 2013 batch of Columbia Gorge Wildflower, distributed by Hummingbird Wholesale in Eugene Oregon. The 2012 version of this honey is still one of my favorite honeys ever, and tastes like no other that I own. It has a strong, deeply herbal smell that jumps out of the jar and that fills your nose when you eat it, and it has a kind of tart flavor. My big jar of it is down to 1/4, so naturally I grabbed the 2013 version with full force when I saw it on the shelf. Lo and behold, it’s nothing like last year’s, but it’s most excellent on it’s own terms.

Tasting

I immediately classed this among my “bourbon honeys”. I picked up that term from my friend Jane who collects rare whiskey, when she said that one of my honeys reminded her of bourbon. This 2013 Columbia Gorge honey has a kind of vanilla thing going on that makes me think of meadowfoam honey, but it isn’t simply that. There is also a woody nuttiness, balanced with subtle floral hints. Then it finishes a bit dry, like a chestnut honey can. It’s great. This weekend I mixed it into my homemade “energy gel” that I make with soaked chia seeds among other things, and the distinctiveness of this honey really stood out when diluted this way (especially as my senses were turned up while running at the beach in Discovery park). It also stood out in my morning black tea. I’m sure this one would be tasty on cheese.

Where To Get It

I’ve only ever seen this honey at the Minglemint Natural Food Store on Vashon Island (next to the Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie). There are always interesting honeys on the shelves there, so whenever I visit Vashon I drop by. I’m assuming that Hummingbird Wholesale sells this honey to other places closer to their home base in Oregon – you can contact them to find out.

EDIT!

I got some more information on this honey from Danielle at Hummingbird Wholesale, who was nice enough to query their source and pass it along:

“Our wildflower honey is coming from a different beekeeper this year since the beekeeper who has bee supplying us for many years didn’t have any honey for us this year. The new beekeeper is a father and son who have been beekeeping for 12 years. They have 1600 colonies. After pollinating almonds in California and apples and cherries in the Milton-Freewater area, they move their bees to honey locations in the foothills of the Oregon Blue Mountains. Their honey locations are at least 5 miles from any conventional farming areas. The nectar sources are from a variety of mountain wildflowers and brush. These plants include, fireweed, star thistle, vetch, serviceberry, huckleberry, mock orange, sumac, elderberry, blackberry, snowberry and many others.”

No wonder it’s different!