Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I Have the World's Best Husband!

My DH travels frequently for work, and he always makes it a point to ask me what I want him to bring back. Most of the time, the answer is, "Nothing." However, when he had to visit London last week, I knew exactly what I wanted. "Bring me some monofloral honey from Fortnum & Mason!!!"

Fortnum & Mason

He asked, "Do you have an address? Do I have to go there?"

"Well, no, but just make sure that you get something monofloral." Lots of stress on that "monofloral."

Honey selection

Of course, while attending his conference, he mentioned in various conversations that he had to run an errand for honey. Every single person responded with, "Oh, so you're going to Fortnum & Mason, yeah?" His destiny was sealed.

Shropshire honey, Welsh heather honey, and Salisbury plain honey
along with some  wildflower honey in an adorable china jar and a luxurious honey dipper from F&M
The biscuits are from Harrods, though. 

Early Saturday morning, I received an excited call from my DH, "I wish you were here! You should see this place!" Then I got a run-down on all the varieties of honey in the store. (My picks: heather, borage, and Pitcairn Island, please! Yes, the Pitcairn Island is not a monofloral, but it's from Pitcairn Island! Where else am going to get a sample?)

The Pitcairn Island honey is bottled in dark plastic :-(
Still, look how light the borage honey -- it's practically clear.

My DH wasn't able to take a tour of Fortnum & Mason's rooftop apiary. Apparently, tours have to be arranged well in advance. (It's just as well since I get nervous when my allergic husband gets too close to beehives.) F&M also sells honey from their London store location. However, one has to get on a waiting list, and it takes awhile to get the honey. "Better sign up now," my DH advised, "so you can get your honey in two or three years from now." I have no plans to get on the wait list, but no matter.

An Ogilvy's honey sampler: Balkan Linden, Zambezi Plains, Himalayan Mountains, and New Zealand Rainforest

My DH is a little bummed because he had meant to pick up some Scottish comb honey and forgot, but I'm beyond ecstatic about his selections. I'm feeling like a kid in a candy shop.

The day before his F&M excursion, my husband visited a little Italian shop in SoHo
and picked up some acacia and chestnut honey.
The man knows what I like.

I really don't know which one to try first. Perhaps a honey tasting party is in order! I did some reading on some of the monoflorals, and this is what I found:

  • Acacia: This is European sister of our black locust, and it has the same butterscotch, vanilla, and almonds finish. Pair it with Pecorino Romano or provolone and chardonnay.
  • Chestnut: "Chestnut is either a honey you'll adore or one you'll wish you'd never met." Notes of carob, wet tobacco, balsam, smoke, and leather with a bitterness that lasts on the tongue. Serve with Pecorino Romano & fresh pears or with Gorgonzola on walnut bread, arugula, and cabernet sauvignon.
  • Heather: The London Honey Company makes a distinction in their products between ling heather (Calluna vulgaris) and bell heather (Erica cinerea). However, ling heather is generally the plant referred to as heather while the Ericas (cross-leaved heather is another Erica) are called heaths.

    Ling is dark amber and opaque. It's sometimes referred to as "the Rolls Royce of honeys." It has a viscous, jelly-like texture that refuses to pour out of the jar -- even when turned upside down. It also does not crystallize. To test the purity of ling honey, scrape a line on its surface. "If the line stays on the surface, it's not mixed with other heather honeys." Pure ling also has tiny air bubbles throughout. Tasting notes indicates flavors of warm and smoky toffee, plum, blackberry, and bitter coffee with a tangy finish. It should be paired with Stilton or cheddar cheese, griddle cakes or porridge.

    Bell heather is reddish and transparent. The flavor is bitter, perfumy, and floral with hints of mint. Drambuie and Sam Adams Honey Porter beer are brewed with Scottish heather honey.

    I think my DH brought back some sort of mix since, visually, my honey has characteristics of each. 
  • Linden: Delicate, herbal, and fruity. Smells of sour milk, beeswax, and a sweet mustiness. Flavor profile includes green bananas, kiwi fruit, butterscotch pineapple, and green melon. Pair it with a butter camembert accompanied by green grapes, toasted pecans, a baguette, and chardonnay.

Now I don't want to give too much away right now, but I asked my DH to pick up an extra jar of one of the honeys (I won't say which) because I've been wanting to have a raffle. I just have to get around to figuring out how to run one and which host to use. But stay tuned... It's coming soon!


  1. OMG, what am amazing vicarious treat! And "wish you'd never met"… that perfectly describes me and chestnut honey. Blech. The acacia sound divine, and I can't wait to hear what the borage honey tastes like. I've never seen such clear honey.

    1. The borage was the one I'd most wanted to taste, too, so I broke into it shortly after posting. I'm not a foodie, so I'm probably not the best person to describe it. First off, I'd say it's quite thin and runny. The aroma is extremely delicate. At first, I didn't smell anything, but after a few sniffs, I think it has a very green smell with the barest, barest hint of citrus zest -- but maybe that's just because I'd been cutting up limes.

      The flavor is just as delicate. It's definitely one of the sweetest honeys I've ever tasted. My first impression was a floral flavor that made me think of candied flower petals. Afterward, though, it had a warm, vegetal quality that reminded me of brown sugar and jasmine or oolong tea. I absolutely love tea, so two thumbs up from me -- delicious!!!

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  3. I think where they keep their bees is very interesting.

    1. Yes, they have gorgeous hives on their roofs. If you look on YouTube, there is a video featuring their rooftop hives.

  4. ...and I thought I had the only perfect DH! I definitely see how you felt like a kid in a candy shop. Were you at the CT Beekeepers club meeting when Marina Marchese did her talk and taste on the various honey? I felt like a kid in a candy shop too

    1. LOL! Well, perhaps our husbands can share the title. :-)

      Yes!!! I *was* there for Marina's presentation! Didn't she do a fantastic job? I love her book -- The Honey Connoisseur. I look at it all the time.

  5. Geez, and I thought I was the best husband. I'll have keep this post hidden from my wife. ;-) What a treat for you. We're still enjoying the chestnut and forest honeys we brought back from Slovenia. I do like the chestnut on warm toast, but I can see why some (like HB) would find it too strong. My wife liked the acacia, but I wasn't a fan - maybe it's the banana flavor which I don't like. A friend just brought back some Everglades honey - definitely strong like the chestnut so I'm curious what they bees feasted on for that! I have lots of borage in my yard for my bees, but it gets diluted with all the other florals available. But I love watching the bees feast on it! Enjoy your treat!

    1. oops, sorry it was the linden I didn't like. Which is too bad since I just planted a linden tree in my yard!

    2. Well, I had a very small sample of husbands to judge (just one), but I think I picked well, though I'm sure your wife probably did, too. ;-)

      I lived in S Florida for years, but I can't recall ever having Everglades honey. I can't remember what flowers there -- verbena, orchids, irises, water lilies, passionflowers... Sounds awesome!

      I'm having mixed feelings about the chestnut honey. On its own, it's a little too bitter and strong for me. However, I toasted some bread, brushed it with olive oil, rubbed it with garlic then topped it with ricotta and a drizzle of the chestnut honey. Soooo yummy!


Thank you for your comment! I can't wait to hear what you think!