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Restaurant Sun Aug 30 2009

Beyond the Bottle: Explore the Bounty of Honey

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On Thursday evening, the National Honey Board invited a group of writers to look "Beyond the Bottle and Explore the Bounty of Honey" with a honey tasting and specially-created dinner by Chef Randy Zweiban at Province. It was an enjoyable evening that combined education about honey production, varieties and environmental concerns with an interesting and inspiring range of cocktails, appetizers and dinner courses that highlighted the wide range of uses for honey in cooking.

Honey Spoon

It was interesting to learn that when you buy a bottle of blueberry honey, you aren't getting blueberry-flavored honey, but rather honey harvested from bees who have visited blueberry flowers. There are over 300 varieties of honey found in the United States, but many are difficult to find alone because several are often blended together to produce the typical "supermarket" variety. However, the Honey Board provides a handy "Honey Locator" to help you find a particular variety, if you're looking for a specific taste.

Honey can range from being almost totally clear to as dark as maple syrup. We tasted buckwheat honey that was very dark and complex, with a flavor similar to molasses. It would be wonderful to use in fall-flavored baked goods.

Honey Dessert

The event organizers were full of interesting honey tidbits and anecdotes. For instance, we learned that honey is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air and locks it into baked goods, allowing them to maintain a soft, moist texture. It's easy to substitute honey for sugar in recipes; you can substitute up to half of the sugar with honey. For each cup of honey used, reduce any liquid by 1/4 cup, add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and reduce the oven temperature by 25°F to prevent over-browning.

Zweiban

The best part of the evening was tasting all the ways that Chef Zweiban used honey in savory dishes. The highlight of the dinner was a Lemon-Honey Glazed Slow Roasted Halibut. The honey flavor came through but it was not overly sweet and the rich honey glaze helped to lock the moisture into the fish so it just melted in my mouth.

Local honey can be found at farmers' markets all over the Chicagoland area. Just this past weekend at Green City, I saw 5 different farmers selling bottles of their local harvest.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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