Sweet and salty combinations like salted caramel or proscuitto and melon are classic pairings that engage our tastebuds and spark late night cravings. If you have a shelf piling up with a rainbow of honeys like many of our staff, we suggest marrying a variety of liquid gold with cheeses, fruit, nuts, and other accoutrements. Whether you’re planning a dinner party or an afternoon appetizer for two, a cheese and honey board is the perfect place to start. Here are a few of our favorite pairings.
Honeycomb & Brie
There’s nothing quite like eating honeycomb straight from the hive, but the store bought variety is just as delicious. While some people will chew and discard the wax, it is perfectly safe to eat — the best honeycomb is made from pure white wax filled with capped golden honey. Honeycomb is always a delightful treat by itself, but pairing it with a slice of savory goat milk brie brings out the creaminess of the honey and complements the texture of the cheese rind. Other soft cheeses like Robiola Rochetta or a classic camembert pair well too. Accompany this duo with crisp rosemary crostinis, fresh berries, and roasted almonds. A Champagne or other sparkling wine adds lightness to this spread.
White Honey & Pecorino
Light, floral, and smooth, white honey often ranges in color from champagne to buttery. In temperate regions, we usually think of this as spring or early summer honey, though the color and flavor is always dependent upon what flowers are in bloom. We suggest finding a local honey or trying a tupelo, orange blossom, or linden variety. In this pairing, the saccharine sweetness of this honey is complimented by a nutty, salty Pecorino. Pecorino can be substituted with Parmigiano-Reggiano or even an extra sharp cheddar. Tart apple slices or pieces of rustic bread make for a substantial base. Top with salty pistachio meats and sour dried cherries or cranberries for a diverse flavor profile. We like this spread paired with chilled Rose or summery Pinot Grigio.
Amber Honey & Blue Cheese
Dark amber honeys are usually distinct in color and flavor, boasting malty, spicy, or earthy tastes. Fall and winter honeys often have this profile, as well as the more medicinal honeys often found in the southern hemisphere. We topped a mature gorgonzola with a deep mahogany-hued wildflower honey from the Dominican Republic. Molasses-like and slightly crystallized, this honey stood out against the piquant gorgonzola for a very rich combination. Sub the gorgonzola for another blue cheese like Stilton or Roquefort for an equally poignant pairing. Balance out these bold flavors with juicy grapes, berries, and dried fruit. Sip on Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux with this adventurous spread.
Not sure where to find honeycomb or specific flavors of honey? Check out your local specialty shops or health food stores. If you’re in Boston, we recommend Follow the Honey in Cambridge, MA.
Photos: Greg Maslin