OK, so I confess that my first affairs with honey weren’t in Italy. My palate awakened at in the seaside town of Bodrum, Turkey, where the honey arrived in a bowl, served with bread, tomatoes and salty feta cheese. Served on a warm baguette with butter, the honey from Pascal’s father’s Alsacian farm comforted me. In Greece, eating it daily served over strained yogurt excited me: healthy dessert for breakfast, no pastry required! Alain served lavender honey from Provence with tisane – morning and night. What’s not to love about honey?
Produced in the Piemontese valleys of Gran Paradiso (the views above and below snapped in June when we went to Cogne), my jar of miele di rododendro is, sadly, just about finished.
The jar explains that every year in June, the beekeepers move to the higher altitudes in search of rhododendron blossoms. This single flower honey contains complex floral tones yet isn’t too sweet. Not as bitter as the chestnut honey also collected in the higher Alpine valleys, rhododendron honey stands well on its own. It also nicely flavors an anise vinaigrette (made with mild mustard, honey, shallots, champagne vinegar, olive oil and pestled anise seed).
Strangely, when I did a Google search on rhododendron honey in English, I came up with quite a few mentions that this honey can be toxic! No Italian site I saw mentions this toxicity, so I am assuming toxicity is found only in N. American varietals? Looks like I’ll need to find an expert pronto. Otherwise, perhaps the honey can explain my odd behavior? 😉
Next time I’m in Paris, I’ll head to Les Ruchers du Roy sans doubt. Why can’t we have something like this in Philly? The honey guy at Reading Terminal pales in comparison.