Serves 3-4 as an Appetizer Preparation Time: 20 minutes
In California, most bee aficionados and honey lovers know about the importance of honeybees for agricultural crop pollination. One of these “bee-pendent” crops that has drawn media attention of late? Almonds. According to an interview with Gene Brandi on NPR’s All Things Considered, between 80 and 90 percent of the nation’s total commercial bee population is required for almond pollination just in California.
Almond honey is not a varietal one would find on the supermarket shelves and there are a couple reasons why this is. First, while almond blossoms are loaded with pollen, they don’t provide much nectar, which the bees need in order to make honey. Bees have two sources of nourishment: flower pollen (their protein) and nectar (their carbohydrate); without both of these, their diet is incomplete. This fact brings up yet again why it is so important for beekeepers concerned about the health of their hives to rotate their bees and provide them access to diverse forage.
The second reason why almond honey is not something you’d see at the market is because of its unique taste. Almond honey could be considered a type of what the Italians call miele amaro, or bitter honey. On the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, Italian beekeepers harvest miele amaromade from the nectar of wild strawberry trees. These trees produce little nectar, like the blossoms of the almond tree, and this miele amaro requires the bees to make more than twice the number of trips to produce the same amount of honey. Sardinians traditionally serve this bitter honey with roasted cheese – pecorino cheese, as the region is famous for it. This recipe is inspired by this classic dish, which presents the flavor of the honey beautifully, and is a breeze to put together.
- ½ pound Pecorino cheese
- 3 tablespoons sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons Love a Bee Almond Honey
- Fresh thyme for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While the oven heats, toast the sliced almonds in a frying pan over medium low heat – stirring frequently - until the nuts are fragrant, about 6 minutes.
- Cut the cheese into ¼ inch slices and arrange in an oven-safe pan or dish. Place in the oven and bake until cheese is melted and begins to turn golden, about ten minutes.
- Remove the cheese from the oven and sprinkle with the toasted almonds and fresh thyme. Drizzle the honey over the cheese. Serve immediately with flatbread crackers and fresh fruit.