Why spend April 15 with a calculator, a pile of receipts, and a deadline? The Demonstration Garden was buzzing on tax day with more than 30 guests enjoying a packed morning learning all about bees and honey.
Jewish Honey Cake, a traditional favorite for the Jewish New Year, and coffee helped take the chill off the brisk morning. In his talk, beekeeper David McCarty encouraged guests to purchase local honey. David noted that honey tastes of the nectar from particular flowers visited by bees, and honey from the same hive can have dramatically different flavors. Commercially produced grocery store honey is often so processed that all pollen is destroyed, he said, and may even contain fillers like corn syrup and fructose. (In the worst cases, generic honey may be little more than corn syrup.)
Honey cake was delicious with hot coffee.
David harvests honey, of course, but his passion is the small insects that make it. He works to rescue bees from exterminators and to keep hives healthy. David shares information with other North Texan bee enthusiasts on the Facebook open group, CrossTimbers Beekeepers. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/CTBees/).
Joe Field gardener (and beekeeper) Tim helped guests try different honeys with popsicle sticks. It’s hard to pick a favorite when testing Tupelo honey from Florida swamps, Sourwood from southern Appalachia, Orange Blossom from southern Florida, Wildflower from Texas fields, Huajillo from the brush country in Southwestern Texas, and Buckwheat from New York and North Dakota.
Linda dazzled guests with an appetizer tray of Brie, Manchego, and Point Reyes Blue Cheese from Scardello, an artisan cheese store at 3511 Oak Lawn, scardellocheese.com. She sprinkled the cheese slices and honeycomb with Spanish Marcona Almonds, then drizzled the tray with honey from Master Gardener Jan Ramsey’s Tranquility Hill Ranch.
The table featured plates with tiny bees around the rim, bee-friendly bouquets of sunflowers, gold chargers, hand-lettered menus, and neutral tablecloths with a bee-themed runner. A place card with Elizabeth’s calligraphy tied to a honey dipper marked each guest’s place.
Oh, did we mention lunch?
The menu, of course, featured items with a honey twist: turkey and grape salad with honey-Dijon dressing, pasta handkerchiefs with tart cherry, sage (and honey) sauce, honey beer bread, honey-roasted carrots, and honey lemon tea. A dessert sampler tempted guests with a square of honey pecan tart, honey vanilla ice cream, and a French lemon tart topped with an abundance of whipped cream, a mint leaf, and fresh blueberry.
Information from the national Honey Board, a list of bee-friendly flowers, and in-depth information and sources for each honey were given to each guest.
As we planned the event, we were amazed at the intricate and amazing world of bees and honey. We learned the difference between varietal (one source of nectar) and local honey (Texas Wildflower). One thing led to another, and soon we were ordering honey from across the South, visiting our local beekeeper at the farmers market, and purchasing honey on college visitation trips.
Lisa purchased the Huajillo and Buckwheat honey from Walker Honey Farm, which has a retail store about 10 miles from I-35 in Rogers, Texas, near Belton and Temple. She also found a good selection of local honey at Ruibal’s Rosemeade Market in Carrollton, the HEB grocery stores in Georgetown and Temple, and the farmers market behind the famous Monument Cafe in Georgetown (a must stop if only for the homemade lemonade). Elizabeth made multiple trips to the farmers market on Campbell Road (near UTD) to purchase local honey and dippers from Warne Bee Farm in Anna, Texas.
Linda explored cookbooks, magazines, and internet sources including L.L. Lanier, lltupelohoney.com, which has harvested Tupelo honey since 1898 in swamps along the Chipola and Apalachicola Rivers in Florida. She also found the Savannah Bee Co. of Savannah, Georgia, which sells the rare and wonderful Sourwood honey.
Next time you’re at Bruce Miller Nursery on Belt Line Road in Richardson, check out Fain’s Honey from Llano, Texas. Lisa says Fain’s is a family favorite and something she and her family always pick up at Cooper’s Bar-B-Que in Llano after a big platter of brisket and ribs. Turns out there’s a honey of a family connection: Lisa’s dad, after all, was Fain Gibbons.
Pictures by Starla
Recipes and more buzz about honey coming up in the next few days! Keep posted!