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Seer of ghosts & weaver of stories

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Obsessed? Who, me?
I've spent the past three months trying as many different London-produced honeys as I can, as well as a few from farther afield (California and Idaho). Because we're between production seasons, I wasn't able to get my hands on every London honey on which I've been able to gather data, but I've so far been able to try these:

Regents Park

London Honey Company

Tate Britain

Regents Park claims to make the finest honey in London, and, so far, I agree with them: it's light, floral, and very sweet, but with an almost minty finish if you really pay attention, amazingly well suited to all-purpose use. LHC's honey with the comb still in has a sweet, sharp citrus flavor that puts me in mind of marmalade (although the beekeeper says it reminds him specifically of grapefruit). Tate Britain's honey (they keep hives up on the roof, as does the Tate Modern) threw me for a loop; it definitely has the most peculiar flavor of the three, and I'm not sure if I like it. It's very dark, brownish amber, and strangely complex: I catch butterscotch, toffee, and a fruity note that I finally realized reminded me of fermented grapes, something like botrytis white dessert wine. I keep getting conflicting messages as to whether Tate Modern's honey is still in stock or not, so I've got to keep digging. I've managed to get myself on the waiting list for this year's crop of Fortnum & Mason.

I've tried one honey from outside of London, Sanfoin Gold. It's an absolute treasure; I like it just as well as I like Regents Park, but for slightly different purposes. It's perfect in Kenilworth Ceylon tea, and it's also great in corn porridge (or just eaten straight up).

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There are some amazing local honeys in Canberra - mostly eucalyptus varieties, which have this really robust, herb and menthol sort of flavour to them. Perfect on toast with lots of butter, lovely in baking, but too strong for any but the most forward of teas (my favourite is a smoky local blend incorporating eucalyptus leaves, but it's good in Assam too).

If I can still get red river gum honey at the markets next time I'm there, I'll send you some (I'd suggest a honey swap, but unfortunately Australian quarantine would have a fit).

I had some Australian Red Gum honey recently (via Crabtree & Evelyn), and I actually found I didn't care much for the taste. How similar are the various gum honeys, in your experience?

They can completely different from one another, although most of the varieties available here (at least that I've found so far) are at the dark and heady end of the spectrum. Red gum is tricky - it tends to be dark and complex, and practically savoury, but red gum and yellow box are the most common eucalypt varieties in the country, so most honeys of those varieties are so-so blends. Leatherwood is in the same vein, but with more citrus going on, and tannins underlying the flavour (it's a Tasmanian speciality, and thanks to my favourite chocolaterie I can report that it goes very well with dark chocolate). Blue gum is quite caramelly in flavour, generally, and grey box (which I've only had once, to my continuing disappointment) is light in flavour, but sweet and spicy, reminding me of nothing so much as vanilla chai. Stringybark is probably best of all, with coffee and chocolate notes finishing smooth and either buttery or nutty depending on, it seems, where it came from. I haven't seen that one around lately, either, but I think I will be off to the markets in a few weeks, so I'll have to have another look. i find that the varieties that were available up north tended more to light, floral and citrussy, very different from Canberra region honeys.

I've just got my hands on a jar of ironbark honey, which is smooth and buttery and tastes faintly of almonds. It's delicious, especially drizzled into porridge with stewed apples on cold winter mornings. :)

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