I’ve met Marina many times before. She lives less than a mile from my home, and I often swing by her place to pick up fresh eggs , usually still warm, or to buy her hand-crafted honey based products from her delightful tasting room in Weston, CT.
Marina is a beekeeper. She makes 15 types of single origin honey, beeswax candles, and honey based skin care products.
Marina is an “Accidental” beekeeper who was drawn to this world about ten years ago when she was invited to visit a neighbor’s apiary. There, she was led to her first cautious encounter with thousands of bees, while protected by a face veil and assured that the beekeeper’s few puffs of smoke from a small, tin smoker would calm and distract the bees.
She got a close look inside her first hive. She tasted her first bit of “sparkling amber liquid” as it “oozed out of the cells and drizzled down the frame.”
She was tasting pristine honey at the source, for the first time. She described it as a revelation in her riveting book, Honeybee, Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper.
“It tasted glorious and exquisite, heavenly and perfect. It was like nothing I had ever savored. At that moment, I knew I wanted to keep Italian honeybees that made this divine treasure called honey.”
The talk, tour and tasting I attended was called “A Taste of East Coast Terroir”. Ten curious honey lovers had driven up to two hours to view Red Bee Apiary and learn more about the complex and wondrous world of honey production from Marina.
After a captivating overview about the behaviors and habits of honeybees, we proceeded to the burlap covered tasting table, where a “flight” of five honeys was paired with locally and estate produced cheese, fruit, nuts and chocolate.
Words like “terroir”, “flavor pairings”, “single origin” titillated me as I was guided to better recognize the subtleties of Marina’s remarkable honeys. Names like “apple blossom” and “blueberry” point to their flower sources so some flavor clues were already given.
Guests were encouraged to cup the paper liner filled with honey. After warming it, we noted the aroma, color and slight variations in texture and viscosity. We experimented with plugging our noses and noted how much less fruity the blueberry honey tasted without our sense of smell.
Locally made goat cheese, with its slightly lemony and gamey undertones was a great compliment to the sweet, fruity and subtle blueberry flavor.
Apple blossom honey was the rarest of the group, as the conditions for apple blossoms and the connection to bees is very specific. If the blossoms occur when temperatures dip below 50-55 degrees, the bees can not fly.
Too cold= no fly zone= no pollen from apple blossoms brought to the hive= no apple blossom honey.
Turns out that our warm spring provided perfect conditions and we enjoyed the mild and delicate flavor of this spring’s honey, paired with apple slices. Marina suggested that there was a bit of “cider at the finish” but it was too subtle for me to discern.
My favorite flavor was the “buckwheat” honey, with its darker, rich color and slightly malty flavor. Marina laughingly called its aroma “Grandma’s moldy attic” as we inhaled without great enthusiasm. But the distinctive flavor was truly delicious and perfectly paired with dark, bitter chocolate.
Learn more Marina’s tastings and events here. Plan to register for these events early as they do fill up. Shop for honey and other honey based products here. Note that you must contact Marina before stopping by her tasting room.
If you are interested in learning more about Marina’s journey and a myriad of interesting facts, I recommend checking out her captivating book, Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper.
All quotes from Marina’s book are excerpted with permission from Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper by C. Marina Marchese, published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2009.
I turned to Levana Kirschenbaum's fantastic new cookbook, THE WHOLE FOODS KOSHER KITCHEN, GLORIOUS MEAL PURE AND SIMPLE, for this flavor packed, simple dressing . Select your favorite honey from RED BEE APIARY and your dressing will shine. Liz Ingredients Instructions Notes I like to make this dressing in summer, when basil is plentiful, and use it in salad greens that include tomatoes, fennel or olives. Levana Kirschenbaum
I turned to Levana Kirschenbaum's fantastic new cookbook, THE WHOLE FOODS KOSHER KITCHEN, GLORIOUS MEAL PURE AND SIMPLE, for this flavor packed, simple dressing .
Select your favorite honey from RED BEE APIARY and your dressing will shine.
I like to make this dressing in summer, when basil is plentiful, and use it in salad greens that include tomatoes, fennel or olives.