Fabulous photo from Life is Special's Etsy shop.
I've had an incredibly hectic several weeks, so decided to reward myself with a "Honey and Cheese" class last night at the delightful Murray's Cheese whose little cheesy (in a good way) seminars I highly recommend. Nothing says "Calgon, take me away!" better than a plate of cheese and a couple of glasses of wine at the end of a long day. And...you say you're adding honey to the mix? Hello.
Zeke Freeman from Bee Raw Honey was a pretty fascinating guy. Bee Raw produces single varietal raw honeys, which basically means his honeys are super fancy and actually quite rare (re: expensive). When one of his honey bottles is labelled Orange Blossom honey, those little winged buggers are put on a truck, taken to an organic orange grove in Florida, and kept at that one special grove where all of the honey is then produced. Raw and unfiltered, then bottled. "We take it out of the comb, and put it in the jar. That's all we do," offered Zeke.
So, no; this isn't your supermarket honey bear. Zeke was quick to let us know that we should, "stay away from the honey bear" and all of the processed junk that goes into it. It's basically like choosing Aunt Jemima over Vermont Maple Syrup, I guess (with apologies to Aunt Jemima, who seems like a swell lady).
Does Bee Raw do anything to the honey at all, like, strain it?
"Well, we strain it just enough to get things like wings and other bee parts out."
I really, really wish I hadn't heard that.
Anyway, the honey made interesting pairings with the artisanal cheeses selected. A very pungent, crystallized buckwheat honey was made more palatable by the soft, almost sweet, ricotta it was matched with. We even got a quick lesson on how to make fresh ricotta, but that's not likely to happen in my kitchen any time soon when there's stuff as good as this Calabro Fresh Ricotta to be had. And, wow, did I love Cowgirl Creamery's Red Hawk. It's a brine washed cheese made from organic cows' milk and vegetarian rennet, using sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. Yee haw, cowgirls! Your Red Hawk cheese rocks the rodeo, and sounds like you ladies do, too.
I was pretty excited to be sent on my way with a glass tube of cranberry honey as my parting gift. I tucked the sweet elixir into my palm and got myself on the subway. For some reason, people on the train were looking at me odd. And, come on, it's New York City. I'm certainly not the odd (wo)man out here. Then I thought, "Oh, no...do I have cheese on my face? Honey dripping from my chin?"
It quickly occurred to me that the precious vial of honey I was holding (to avoid it spilling in my bag) looked suspiciously like a vial of urine.
Which is almost as gross as bee wings being strained out of honey.