I’m sure that there are many beekeepers out there – perhaps most – that do not feel the need to eat honey beyond what comes from their own hives. After all, why would you pay for honey, when you have more than enough of your own? Well, after reading The Honey Connoisseur, you’ll have all the reasons you need to want to try every honey on the planet.
The Honey Connoisseur: Selecting, Tasting, and Pairing Honey, With a Guide to More Than 30 Varietals is a brand new book by well-known authors Marina Marchese and Kim Flottum. Many beekeepers will recognize Flottum’s name from several well known books including The Backyard Beekeeper, Better Beekeeping and contributions to The ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture. Marchese wrote the first beekeeping book that I ever read, Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper. Together, this dynamic duo have created an excellent resource for honey lovers everywhere (whether beekeeper or not).
When I first picked up this book and started flipping through the pages, it became immediately apparent that there was a huge amount of material in this book. Even more evident was that an extraordinary amount of research and scrutiny would have been required to write such a detailed book. The book is broken up into several sections; basic information on honeybees and beekeeping, honey “terroir” and geographic regions, instructions on how to smell and taste honey, as well as pairing honey with different foods and throwing a honey tasting party.
The largest section of this book by far, is devoted to describing – in great detail – many different types of honey. Flottum and Marchese examine over thirty common and exotic floral sources which create some of the most interesting honeys in the world. I loved reading about flowers and honey that I’ve never heard of before and their interesting tasting notes and physical properties. For example, who knew that grapefruit honey is extremely thixotropic, meaning that it sets up in a thick gel until you shake it? Or that Saw Palmetto is considered one of the finest honeys in the world. Not me!
There were more than a few times, while reading through the honey varietals, that I thought to myself, “this would make an excellent coffee table book!” (and I mean that in a very good way). I think that just about anyone would love to pick up this book and start reading about honeys like Kudzu, Sidr, Tamarisk or Manuka.
Having read a large number of beekeeping books, it was quite refreshing to read The Honey Connoisseur and learn all sorts of new, fascinating stuff about honey. Even though both Marchese and Flottum keep bees, you definitely don’t need to be a beekeeper to appreciate this book or the honeys that it presents. This would be an excellent book for foodies or anyone that appreciates a great glass of wine, a slice of fine cheese, or just someone with a sweet tooth for honey. The Honey Connoisseur has an excellent section on creating a honey tasting party for your friends, including instructions on how to prepare tasting flights and setting up an Aroma Sensory Table, all complete with mouth-watering photographs of food, honey pairings and a few simple recipes.
I walk away from this book with a new appreciation for honey. I will no longer be satisfied eating only the honey that my bees produce. I will be visiting farmer’s markets, visiting apiaries in rural areas and keeping my eyes open for exotic honeys while traveling.
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The Honey Connoisseur
By: C. Marina Marchese & Kim Flottum
Released June 2013
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers