Friday, 4 May 2007

A Buzz In My Kitchen

Regular readers may remember that back in November I posted an article focusing on the research I did for my Australian gastronomy project. Then three weeks later, after tons more research and some grueling late nights, I was able to present My Down Under Menu in a follow up posting.

One ingredient of particular interest from my menu is Tasmanian Leatherwood honey, made in the hills of Australia's southern island by bees feasting on the pollen of the Leatherwood tree, which I became rather fascinated with after reading about the somewhat unique way it's made. So strolling down the aisles of my favourite supermarket Waitrose, guess what I stumbled upon, on a shelf next to at least twenty other varieties of specialised honeys?

Tasmanian Leatherwood honey - a unique taste

Now that's what you call an impulse purchase!

Since publishing my gastronomy menu I've written a 24-page project report on Australian gastronomy, where I delved as far back into the country's history as possible in an attempt to identify and explore the influences that have shaped today's modern Australian cuisine. If I get permission from my college I will publish my report on this blog. If everything goes to plan, I'll post a chapter each weekend, in Dickensian fashion, with the intent of keeping you guys on the edge of your seats once a week.

Meanwhile, here's a short excerpt on the subject of Tasmanian Leatherwood honey...

"My studies into the Australasian delicacy of emu meat swiftly lead me to the sweet, viscous nectar known as honey. I remembered reading somewhere that emu meat is complemented by sweet marinades, one reason being that its lack of natural fat, which normally adds moisture to meat while cooking, is beautifully compensated for by the syrupy, natural sweetness of honey. My quest to find the perfect honey for this dish led me rapidly to Leatherwood. The Leatherwood plant is endemic to Western Tasmania, where the beekeepers carry their hives into the rainforests in time for the blossom in late summer. There, the Leatherwood plant’s nectar is extracted by the local bees to produce a pure, unblended honey analogous to a single malt Scotch whisky. The uniquely distinctive, spicy flavour of Leatherwood honey is an acquired taste, judging from the popular quote: "some people swear by it and other people swear about it". I haven’t been luck enough to try Leatherwood honey for myself, but I’m sure there is a very good reason why it accounts for seventy percent of all honey production in Tasmania".

Well, I've tasted Tasmanian Leatherwood honey at last and it's quite unique. In-between the initial sweetness on the tongue and the sweetness that lingers on the palate is a delicate but distinctive rush of heathery, woody smokiness. You can't mistake it and it's exquisite. Unfortunately, my generation may be the last to taste this wonderful product, judging by what I read from the Campaign to Save Leatherwood Honey. It seems that deforestation of Tasmania is rapidly destroying the unique habitat in which the beekeepers make this national treasure. The loudest buzz in the woods right now is the sound of chainsaws.

A present my mum brought back from AustraliaAnd on the subject of Australian bush tucker, here's a little present my mum brought me back the week before last on her return from Sydney.

I wouldn't say it's particularly aimed at foodies, more of a guide to what to look out for and what to avoid if you happen to be venturing in the Aussie outback.

It's a very brief guide, with only one page devoted to each species of flora or fauna. However it does give the traditional Aboriginal uses for every one, which for me is a very useful source of information to have at hand.

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

Hmmm.. we may have to have this at our honey tasting in Sept! You could always come and lead the discussion on this particular honey?!

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