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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Miel de Garrigue, Le Mas des Abeilles, Col le Pointu, Bonnieux, France

This honey reminds me of a great trip we had in France one summer. We rented a gite in Malaucène in Provence, and with our compact rental car did a day trip to Senanque Abbey in the Vaucluse, near Gordes. I'm pretty sure I found this in the gift shop there. It was a clear summer day with the sun beating down. The noise of cicadas filled the air, and there was lavender in bloom in long fields leading up to the abbey. The drive to the abbey was on small, twisty roads through the mountains, and when we arrived the landscape impressed us, but more importantly, we were just happy to finally be out of the car. The lavender was a bonus.

I bought this particular honey because I didn't know what 'garrigue' was. It turns out it means 'wild hillside' honey- which isn't that descriptive. A quick search online and I found that garrigue honey often contains: thyme, rosemary, white clover, asphodel (a flowing plant of the family Asphodelaceae- google it and you'll see its pretty white flowers), or blackberry. These are wild hillsides in Provence, after all.

This particular garrigue honey comes from Le Mas des Abeilles in Col le Pointu, which is in the heart of Provence (and not far from the abbey). They have a fantastic website: complete with spectacular photos of the countryside. They describe their corner of Provence as 'paradis,' and I won't argue the point. You can also visit their operation; they have the dates/times that they are open to visitors on their website. I wish I had known and we would have made a side trip to visit them.

They produce artisan honeys that are raw, natural and unpasteurized. Apart from a variety of honeys (lavender, thyme, acacia, forest, rosemary, orange, etc.) they also produce and sell nougat, pralinos, honey candies, mustards and vinegars. And if you REALLY like one of the their honeys you can bypass buying the 250 gm jars and go straight to the 5 kg buckets. Had I known, my luggage might have been that much heavier on the way home...

The garrigue honey is a warm chestnut brown color. It has started to crystallize since I bought it (which happens naturally within a few months of being harvested). It is a rich, full-bodied honey with fragrant floral overtones, and a molasses undertone and after taste. It isn't too sweet, subtle or complicated, but very satisfying. I think it would be delicious on hot buttered toast, plain yoghurt, or in hot cereal. It may have too much flavor to use in tea, unless you'd like to change the flavor of the tea slightly.

It doesn't look like their website is set up to do online purchases, but they do have a 'contact us' email option, in case you are interested.

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