My favorite breakfast du jour is that Fage 0% Greek Yogurt. I like it with fresh fruit and a handful of cereal, some nuts, and a healthy squirt of ketchup. Ok, I don’t actually put ketchup on my yogurt, but I do always add honey, lots and lots of honey. So, as your girl in the field, here to explore new and exciting taste sensations and report back, I decided to try some artisanal honeys and see if they were any better than the standard issue supermarket honey bear.
I want to make it clear, up front, that I have nothing against the 'ol honey bear. I have not been unhappy with his performance as a sweetener, he’s been a dutiful friend for many years. But, in the name of research, I fired up the interweb and ordered a jar each of Wild Blackberry Honey and Macadamia Blossom Honey. I almost ordered the rosemary honey and the thyme honey and the lavender honey as well, because I’m a sucker for anything herb-related, especially when available in pretty, girlie packaging, but I wanted to take it slow and be sure not to O.H. (over honey).
I’ll admit that I went into this with mixed feelings. On one hand, I don’t have one of those highly refined palates that can pick out “berry notes” or “grassy notes” or “liquorice notes” in wines (unless someone else points them out to me first), so I was skeptical that spending $12, instead of my usual $3.79, on honey was going to be worth it. On the other hand, I still can’t get past the idea that if it’s expensive, it’s therefore more gourmet and more gourmet always equals better, right?
Several days later, the fancy honey arrived, all packaged beautifully and ready for some serious yogurt action. Unfortunately, both the blackberry and macadamia honeys had completely crystallized into solid masses. This isn’t a big deal, since honey doesn’t actually go bad, and all it takes is a few seconds in the microwave or a dip in a toasty water bath for it to regain its syrupy texture. Once it was restored to the proper consistency, I began my painstaking analysis.
The blackberry honey is light amber in color, not too different from The Bear. I was really surprised when I tasted it, how fruity it actually tasted, how well the....ahem, blackberry notes stood out. Perhaps my palate is more refined that I previously thought? Or maybe these bees just got somethin' on the standard honey bear filling bees, namely access to blackberry bushes? Whatever it is, the blackberry flavor is definitely there, but its not the first thing you taste. It kind of creeps in, after the initial hit of honey sweetness fades. The Macadamia Nut Blossom Honey is a lot darker in color, with a creamy macadamia-ness in the background that slinks in as an afterthought, like the blackberry. Both honeys certainly have more complexity and depth than The Bear; I'm not sure I'd even understand the concept of "complexity" and "depth" in honey if I didn't taste them all side by side. With apologies to The Bear, they both get a solid thumbs up.
It’s been a couple of weeks since my honey frontiers were expanded. The Bear sits in the cupboard, eyeing me bitterly when I reach for his neighbors. I’ve been swapping back and forth between the blackberry and the macadamia on my morning yogurt. I’ve tried them both in tea, used the macadamia blossom in a marinade for cod, and the blackberry honey with some rosemary on a roast chicken, all with pretty tasty results. But the big question is, were they any tastier than if I’d stuck with my old friend, The Bear? I kind of think they are, but I probably just think that because they were more expensive.