Tasting with Beekeeper and Honey Sommelier, Marina Marchese

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.


Basil Honey Dressing

2 cups

Basil Honey Dressing

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

  • 1 cup basil leaves, packed
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 1/2 cup natural apple cider
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup wine vinegar, or more to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place basil, oil, and shallots in food processor
  2. Process until smooth.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients and process again, until smooth.
  4. Store refrigerated in a glass jar.

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

http://kosherlikeme.com/recipes/tasting-with-beekeeper-and-honey-sommelier-marina-marchese

11 Comments

  1. Hi Liz!

    We are having a guest tomorrow, and we were just (ten minutes ago) trying to think of an interesting activity to do tomorrow afternoon. And then I read your always-great blog and signed up for the RedBee workshop. I am really excited and would have had no idea that Marina was right around the corner if you hadn’t introduced her.

    Thanks so much, Liz!
    Janice Papolos

    Many thanks, Liz!

    • How great! You will love the tasting. Let us know more about your experiencing by commenting here, again.
      I am spending most of my time in CT this summer and will be covering other small businesses and local chefs in the weeks to come. Keep on reading.

  2. That setting looks like a slice of heaven. Red Bee is a treasure.
    Will add this incredible sounding dressing to my summer repertoire!

  3. so how come honey is kosher if bees are not?

    for a review of the Mishna, Talmud and legal codes visit: http://ohr.edu/ask/ask018.htm

    Not only is honey kosher, but it’s the sweetener of choice on the holiest days of the year to teach us… i believe … that sometimes the holiest, purest things come from an unholy and impure source… you never know and should never judge.. unless you’re Kosher like ME .. so sayeth the Lord.

  4. Liz Your beautiful honey story threw me way back to some great memories with my father Z”L: he loved honey and there was no flavor he didn’t bring home. There was lots of finger licking in our house! I must taste that blueberry honey: can’t let blueberries pass me by anywhere! So glad you posted my honey basil dressing: it’s terrific! You got me so hungry: Ill never read honey stories before breakfast ever again! Xoxo

    • I will remember that blueberry honey is what you yearn for! Thanks again for the dressing recipe and for including so many fantastic recipes in your new book, WHOLE FOODS KOSHER KITCHEN. It is a great resource for kosher keepers and anyone else concerned with healthy eating. Brava!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>