October 07, 2010

Honey Swap

Trio of honey from the Farmer's Market at East High
Not long ago @GrampasHoney tweeted a request for a sommelier or "super taster" to help them with a new project. Grampa's Gourmet, which produces honey in CO and NM, just launched Project: Taste the Honey, in an effort to get people tasting and talking about honey they way they do about wine. Ultimately, they hope to define the goût de terroir of their southwestern varietals. And so it came to be that BB and I stopped by their booth at the Farmers Market and swapped a jar of our chunk honey for three of theirs.

An Organoleptic Tasting

Grampa’s Gourmet White Honey is a blue ribbon cuvée of mesquite and clover honeys. Like a new bag of sugar, it has a faint aroma of feet to it. (Seriously, when you open a 50lb. bag of sugar, it smells like feet.) ANyway, made in part using the Dyce method, then whipped, it is a sublime textural experience. Reminiscent of freshly made marshmallows, it is softly sweet and would be delightful on strawberries, but alas those are out of season now. In lieu, I recommend it on a bar of dark chocolate.

Their Seasonal Honey is a vintage 2009 Chamiso, pulled from the honeyteca reserve. (Yes, I made up a word there.) Driving around Colorado, you’ll see its floral source, Rabbitbrush, blooming singly or in drifts across the Plains. It seems to be the only plant that can shine in this heat and drought. Similarly, chamisa honey glows golden in the Mile High sun. It has a hint of burnt caramel on the nose but it's not in the least bitter. Mildly sweet with a medium body, it's equally comfortable in a cup of tea or with a hearty dark bread. The perfect garnish would be a local charcutier's version of lardo di Ardo.

The Tamarisk Honey is the darkest and most complex of the trio we selected. With notes of molasses on the nose, the flavor is assertive yet not overwhelmingly so. The earthiness, and slight grittiness, of this one makes it good for savory applications. We found it happily married with Maytag Bleu Cheese, even sans pears.

The chunk honey we traded in was from our 2010 Summer Harvest. Extremely pale amber and almost as clear as water, it has a woodsy aroma and a smooth, mellow start with a distinctively minty finish - the giveaway that the informing floral source was Linden. I take it in my daily coffee or tea, and despite the heat, the apitherapeutic effects are noticeable. A lot less sneezing than in years past.

These four are only a beginning. There are so many more honeys to taste – Grampa’s Gourmet’s and an untold number of others – and many ways to participate in the challenge. Are you up for it? Taste, tweet, post and update. One lucky Honey Taster will be the winner of a Grampa’s Gourmet “Colorado Beekeeper’s Sampler”: 5 varietal honeys, honey comb and bee pollen. Visit their site for details.




3 comments:

Grant @ Grampa's Honey said...

This is such a great post on tasting honey - with the prerequisite wine terminology throughout!

I love the descriptions - and the pairings!

Rusty said...

See! You did it! You did that thing I'm so jealous of. As I wrote on my blog, "I am linguistically challenged when it comes to describing flavors. I’m in awe of those people who write descriptions of wine that include terms like floral, heady, fruity, nuanced, ambrosial, buttery, and exotic. They talk of finish, undertones, and mouth feel. . . That's just not going to happen here." Ahem.

Needless to say, I'm insanely jealous. Not only that, but I want to run right out and buy all those honeys! ME! The person who has honey stored in the kitchen, the garden shed, the pump house, the cabin . . . even under the bed. You are causing me a serious problem.

Nice job, though. Very nice job.

HB said...

Grant: one would be hard-pressed to find someone more excited about honey than you. I can't wait to see what interesting results Project: Taste the Honey yields.

Rusty: all you need to do is roll the honey around on your tongue, close your eyes, and let your mind grab onto the words. You can... and will... do it, too. And speaking of jealous: a shed, a pump house, and a cabin, too? I am GREEN!

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