Honey and Cheese Pairing
Honey and Cheese Pairing
Honey and cheese is a match made in heaven.
To explore this divine duo, let’s start with a bit of history. “The story of cheese and honey began somewhere around A.D. 14-37 with a Roman gourmand named Marcus Gavius Apicius. Throughout the ages, the name Apicius has been associated with luxury and gluttony. Although there are many legends surrounding the life of Apicius, history seems to agree that his extravagant menus were regarded as a high art and his parties were lavish banquets often lasting for days on end. After all, feasting was a significant part of Roman society, and honey was a delicacy reserved for only the elite. Apicius included honey in many of his recipes; it kept food fresh and moist and could mask the taste of spoilage, a grim reality in the days before refrigeration.” (Honey and Cheese by Marina Marchese)
Honey is meant to enhance the flavour of cheese, not overpower it, so it’s best use it sparingly. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to pairing cheese with honey; it is all about the sensory journey. Raw honey is best for the cheese pairing experience, as raw (non-heat treated) honey is much more flavourful and dynamic than its pasteurized counterpart.
My love affair with cheese and honey started in a rural agriturismo near Olbia, Italy when I first tried warm home-made goats cheese with pine honey, and it deepened as I grew up and discovered other cheeses and honeys from around the world.
Let’s look at some classic and some less usual cheese and honey pairings.
Nutty cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano or Manchego and Alpine/mountain cheeses such as Gruyère, Comté, Asiago, Provolone and Roncal pair well with flavour-rich honey, such as chestnut, Raw Forest and Raw Buckwheat Honey.
Semi-soft, mild cheeses with a strong aroma, like Taleggio, mature Brie or Camembert goes well with orange blossom and rosemary honey.
If you prefer mature Cheddar or crumbly Lancashire cheese, I recommend opting for Raw Heather Honey. Don’t forget the oatcakes though!
Greek forest honeys are some of the most complex honeys. Both have distinct characteristics and bold flavours. With its lingering taste of molasses and woodiness, Greek Pine Honey goes perfectly with Parmigiano-Reggiano, Manchego or any herby cheese. The earthy and caramelly Fir Honey on the other hand is better paired with Pecorino or any sheep/goats cheese.
Cheese, like honey, is best served at room temperature so remove your cheeses from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.
A variety of flavours and textures keeps it interesting and you may just stumble upon your next magical combination. For textures and flavours serve some roasted or salted nuts like pistachios, walnuts or macadamia, some dried or fresh fruits – cherries, apricots, fruity dates, grapes, raisins and freshly sliced green apples or figs. Bread or crackers are a necessity as well as wine!