The flavor of honey fresh from the combs is divine. Depending on the variety, it can be thin or thick, but always decadent. The iridescent sunny gold color is luscious. The texture is dense but smooth, and lends itself to slow savoring.
My boyfriend’s grandfather has his own honeycombs in the Greek island Karpathos. From ten years old, he accompanied and assisted him. He tasted fresh honey from the combs, witnessed every step of the process, and got scolded for his reckless behavior around the bees! I envy this experience.
Bees had an interesting role in mythology. Connected to both the earth and sky, bees were a symbol of all vital principles and even embodied the soul.
Ancient Egyptian texts declared that the Ra the Sun God’s tears turned into bees once they hit the soil. They then built honeycombs and created honey.
According to Virgil, Aristaeus, the son of Greek God Apollo, had a beehive. Orpheus destroyed his hive when his wife Eurydice died from denying Aristoeu’s advances. Thankfully, once Aristaeus sacrificed some bulls and cows to the Gods, new swarms appeared and he was able to rebuild his hive and teach beekeeping to man.
In some texts from India, the bee represents the spirit becoming intoxicated with the pollen of knowledge.
I could go on and on, but I fear I may become boring…
Famous chef Jacques Pepin, who I’m happy to say loves Greece and Greek cuisine, praises our very common dessert of yogurt with honey. For those who do not have access to the really thick brands of Greek yogurt, Pepin advises to mix 1/4 sour ceam to every 3/4s of Greek yogurt you use. He adds honey with some of that honeycomb texture, with a chiffonade of mint, lemon zest, and walnuts. Elegant, and effortless.
Of course, you can also add fruit drizzled in honey. My preference is plums or peaches (or both) grilled wih honey and a dash of brown sugar, and topped with a dollop of yogurt.
There are a million variations, go ahead and be creative!
This is a recipe I exprimented with a bit until I made it to my liking..I hope you like it too.
DUCK WIH SAGE HONEY PEPPERCORN SAUCE
2 7oz duck breasts with skin
3 tbs butter
1/2 cup shallots
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbs honey
1/2 tsp pink peppercorns
1/2 tsp green peppercorns
2 tbs chopped fresh sage plus more for garnish and sprinkling
Heat heavy large skillet over high heat. Cook duck, skin down, until the skin is dark brown, around 5 minutes. Turn duck over-I’d say 6 minutes for medium rare. Please don’t overcook duck, it makes it too hard and less juicy!
Pour off drippings from the skillet, and melt 1 tbs butter in the same skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and sautee for 5 minutes, until lightly brown. Add stock and honey and boil until syrupy, around 5 minutes. Stir in the peppercorns and sage and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add the remaining 2 tbs butter, and whisk until smooth. Add some cornstarch if you want it a bit thicker.
Season with salt and pepper!
Slice duck crosswise into 1/3 inch thick slices. Place duck decoratively on a plate and spoon sage honey peppercorn sauce-add sage garnish and serve!
***Here’s a tip: You know when your honey is very good quality (at 68F/20c) when it flows from a knife in a steady stream, without breaking in seperate drops. Once having fallen, the honey should form a bead, and when poured, the layers should disappear quickly. This indicates a high viscosity (in oter words an approprite water content-not too high).