Greek Forest Honey Pairings
If I didn’t write a cheese blog, I would probably start a honey blog. Next to dairy, honey fascinates me. Bees. Rooftop hives. The growing interest in city honey. I’m sniffin’ it. I’m lovin’ it. I want my rhinestone fingers in some of that amber!
But until then, I’m a dabbler, a queen of pairing honeys with cheese. Cranberry honey paired with Parmigiano is a personal fave, next to buckwheat honey and tangy chèvre.
But now…a new fairytale. Behold: raw Greek forest honey.
This sampler came to me by way of Dianne Hinaris of The Olive Table in Vermont. She stalked me, then I stalked her. “Forest honey is lower in total sugar content and therefore either never crystallizes or is very resistant to crystallization,” she wrote.
A not-too-sweet honey that won’t crystallize? Send me some, toute suite.
Hinaris sources her honey through a family connection in Greece, drawing from a single set of father-son beekeepers that have been harvesting honey for generations. Forest honey, from pine and fir trees, reportedly contains more antioxidants and antibacterial properties than other honeys.
Greek Honey Redux
These honeys are sourced from the Peloponnese region in southern Greece. Although I’m not a honey expert, I found these to be some of the most complex honeys I’d ever tasted. Each one has distinct characteristics, and when I compared them with a few honeys from my cupboard, I was struck by how very sweet they were compared to these honeys, which have rich flavors but absolutely no cloying aftertaste.
Wild and woodsy! There’s a slight taste of pine, but mostly I detected lingering notes of molasses and roasted nuts – think “liquid nut brittle.” The finish is pleasant, not at all cloying. Pine honey represents 60% of the honey harvest in Greece. It never crystallizes.
Pairing: Parmigiano-Reggiano or any sweetly nutty cheese. Dianne also recommends herbed cheeses; I imagine a rosemary-encrusted Manchego would be glorious.
Fir of Vytina Honey
Imagine caramel infused with needles from a fir tree – wintery, earthy, with a surprising mentholated quality. From the mountains of Vytina, this honey is used by locals to soothe digestive issues and anemia. It will never crystallize. It’s also low in fructose and glucose, making it a good choice for diabetics.
Pairing: Tuscan Pecorino or any sheep/goat cheese with caramel notes.
Reiki (Mediterranean Heather) Honey
Dark and fragrant, this honey made me think of caramelized fennel. The finish is endless – malty and floral. Dianne says this is her best-seller, perhaps because it’s thought to have medicinal qualities. It does crystalize in one to three months.
Pairing: An herbaceous goat cheese, like Andante Dairy’s Rag Thyme or perhaps a round of Kunik.
Note: These honeys were sent to me as free samples. To read more about them, visit TheOliveTable.com. You can also check out the list of retailers who carry them in Pennsylvania, Maine, Florida, and other states.