WESTON, Conn. Marina Marchese is a quick study when it comes to artisanal honey. The founder and owner of Red Bee Honey is an avowed apiarist and artisanal honey connoisseur, and last Saturday, June 23, Marchese's quick study earned her the "Snail of Approval" award from Slow Food Metro North at an Ark of Taste event held at Red Bee Honey's backyard hive in Weston.
The afternoon was a perfect blend of sunshine and summer breezes, a lovely backdrop for a homespun honey tasting and workshop. The event, produced in conjunction with Slow Food Metro Norths Ark of Taste series, offered up five endangered honeys for guests to sample and enjoy.
Much like a wine aficionado, Marchese approaches her tastings from a very deliberate place. She talked eager guests through each honey's source, color, aroma, taste, texture and flavor. But that doesn't mean Marchese doesn't like to have a little fun with her guest tasters.
"First, I want you to hold your nose closed with your fingers," Marchese instructed the single table where her 25 guests were seated. "Go ahead. Plug your nose. Now, put the honey on your tongue. You'll taste the sweetness, but that's all. Now, release your fingers and all of the sudden the flavor will emerge." Marchese went on to explain that taste and flavor are two totally different things. "We can only taste salty, sweet, sour and bitter. That's all our tongue can do. We need our nose to really savor the flavorfrom citrus to floral to spices and herbs."
On the menu were a Guajillo honey, made in Texas from Acacia trees, paired with savory Texas pecans. Kiawe honey, a creamy natural confection from Hawaii, was a beautiful match for the crispy crust of fresh, local Wave Hill Breads. But the rare Tupelo honey, made by bees along the banks of a few rivers in Georgia and Florida, was the highlight of the afternoon when spread across ridiculously ripe Georgia peaches and creamy brie. It wouldnt be a stretch to call the creation Heaven on a Butter Knife.
The Ark of Taste, according to the group, is an international catalog of foods that are threatened by industrial standardization, large-scale distribution and environmental damage. In an effort to cultivate consumer demandkey to agricultural conservationonly the best tasting endangered foods make it onto the Ark. The tasting of the Arks endangered honeys is the first event of its kind in the US. Slow Food Metro North awarded Marchese their "Snail of Approval" award, a nod to her dedication to quality, authenticity and sustainability.
"In Italy, I learned that you can find honey on the same shelf, under the same roof, as wine and olive oil, and it's appreciated in the same way," said Marchese. "We have to get there. And we can only do it if we slow down and take the time to taste."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.