Wednesday September 10th, 2008 in Home Cooking
, Order In
While I have not yet been lucky enough to travel to Tasmania, since I discovered Leatherwood Honey my tongue has made the trip several times. It started innocently enough, when I picked up the July 2006 issue of Gourmet magazine and started to read a feature article on Tasmania and honey (“The Secret Life of Bees”, pg. 108). The photos were stunning and I was pulled into the article by lush descriptions of a tiny island with a huge diversity of vegetation. Over 30% of Tasmania’s land is preserved and you will find everything from eucalyptus trees and temperate rain forests to dry grassland and alpine forests on this little island south of Australia.
Within the temperate rain forests of Tasmania grows the shrub-like Leatherwood tree. When this tree is filled with white blooms somewhat resembling a wild rose, the bees get busy and we get lucky. Leatherwood honey is considered a “monofloral” honey, which basically means that the bees practice flower monogamy and stick to Leatherwood blossoms exclusively. Monofloral honey is highly valued because it often is very distinct reflecting the unique nectar characteristics of a single plant species.
This photo isn’t of a Leatherwood blossom but you get the idea
So what kind of trip will Leatherwood honey take your tongue on? Well, it is guaranteed to be dark, exotic, and full of complex twists and turns. After reading the article in Gourmet I looked online and ordered my own jar of this special honey. When it arrived I immediately twisted open the lid, and dipped a spoon into the jar’s thick golden contents. Once the spoon was in my mouth I closed my eyes. Immediately I could imagine standing in the midst of lush vegetation at the bottom of the world. Sunlight poured through a dense canopy of leaves and Leatherwood flowers bloomed nearby. Okay, so I couldn’t imagine it perfectly, but oh could I taste it!
The honey has a fragrant bouquet with medium sweetness. It holds dark, complex, almost mossy flavors, with a lingering taste of sweet damp foliage. The overall effect of this nuanced flavor is similar to that of fresh truffles. I have never tasted a honey before or since that is anything like Leatherwood. It is absolutely unique and as JenJen writes “This needs to be on the list of flavors to try before you die”.
Aside from blissfully sucking on spoonfuls of the honey, it is a wonderful substitute for regular clover honey in this recipe for Honey Glazed Five Spice Chicken. If you want to make a Leatherwood themed meal, the chicken pairs well with this recipe for honey glazed carrots and a glass of dry Riesling. I am about two-thirds through my current jar of Leatherwood honey and was delighted to find that you can now order it on Amazon. This wasn’t the case a few years ago and I ordered it from a rather sketchy New York grocer, who I won’t recommend here. So if you want to try one of the world’s truly unique flavors, take your tongue on a trip to Tasmania!