|A bee is called an ‘ape’ in Italian.|
I use honey when braising apples or pears for a tarte tatin – it adds a deep colour to the fruit and intensifies the flavour. For the same reason, I also like it when I slowly bake quinces and I like it drizzled over fresh figs which I bake and serve with ricotta whipped with honey and cinnamon. I prefer this to using plain fresh cream (the usual accompaniment to many desserts in Australia).
I like to make honey and cinnamon ice cream and sometimes I use honey instead of sugar when making panna cotta. I flavour rice puddings with it and soak candied citrus peel in water and honey with a dash of orange blossom flavoured water – the taste the honey imparts to the peel reminds me of Grand Manier. I frequently do the same with dessert recipes that require raisins or sultanas.
I always add honey when I make lemon drinks, either to drink cold (with a mint leaf) or to enjoy hot. When I have a sore throat I let the hot drink slide slowly over my throat.
I visited Tuscany and Umbria a couple of years ago and I was introduced to eating fresh pecorino cheese spread with honey – very enjoyable especially with miele i fiori d’arancio (orange honey) or miele di castagno (chestnut honey), and it is amazing how different these honeys taste from one another. It is just as easy to see the variation in colours and taste in Australian honey, for example honey from Iron bark is usually dark and highly flavoured, Acacia honey is clear and has a mild delicate floral taste and Leatherwood honey has a unique scent and strong floral flavour.
I am very lucky to have my very own honey supplier. Libby lives in Eden Hills in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia and has hives in her garden. The honey that she has given me over the years also varies in colour and taste; she expect her bees to be good pollinators for her garden as well as to travel far and wide so as to provide her with different tasting honeys. Her garden is full of nooks and the varieties of plants and trees are enormous. Libby’s honey is so good that she has won prizes at the Adelaide Royal Show and she very generously shares it with me.
|Bee on echium|
She is very passionate about her bees and bees in general and I remembered signing a petition that Libby had sent me some time ago to eradicate Asian Bees from Australia. Recently I read Richard Cornish’s article Sting in the tail in Epicure, The Age and sent it her.
Libby loves bees so much that she has stencil and painted bees, swarming down one of the walls in her house.
Honey from the Iblei Mountains in Sicily is highly prized – when it is collected in July and August it has the taste and aroma of thyme and in September of calamintha (mint family). as for other Sicilian honey, Sortino (Syracuse) has a honey festival each October, the Agadi and Madonie Islands are also recognized for honey production as is Agrigento.