Monday, 12 May 2008

A Taste Of Two Honeys

A guest post from my dad, Mike (he's the honey monster in the middle).

Three beekeepers and a honey monster
Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Motola (more of her Hackney honey photos here).

I didn't need a second invitation to be up early on Saturday morning and round the corner to the bustling Broadway Market, home to Hackney's local farmers' market. "Come and be introduced to a couple of real honeys... and make sure you brush your teeth first" was the seductive call - enough to make me salivate to the point of dribbling. Unfortunately, the message was rather more literal than I'd imagined. I arrived to discover a cameraman, a sound recordist and a small army of production assistants surrounding a trestle table bearing two bowls of viscous amber liquid. And the chaps shown alongside me in the photo above. Not exactly honeys - but nicer guys you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere.

Hugh invites a woman to take the honey testWhat my local friend Ian Davies and the TV broadcaster, organic farmer, author and perennial food campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have in common is that they are both apiculturists. Well, strictly speaking it's not Ian but his stepson Philip Schild (top photo, rear) who's responsible for the Hackney honey crop, under Ian's watchful eye. Philip and Ian have been keeping eight hives of bees on the flat roof of their Hackney house for four years, collecting up to 500lb of nectar a year during their three annual harvests and selling it locally.

Hugh F-W started to keep honey bees down at his West Country farm at about the same time as his London counterpart started up on his roof - so when it came to judging the quality of Hugh's output, Channel 4 thought it would be a good idea to arrange a country vs. town tasting competition, with a blind tasting of their respective produce here on the streets of Hackney.

Passers-by were invited to try Hugh's Devon country offering and Philip and Ian's Hackney urban variety - without knowing which was which - and select their favourite. Meanwhile the camera rolled and the production team recorded people's preferences. And which honey won the competition? I couldn't possibly tell you, except to say that it wasn't the one that I chose myself. If you want to know whether Hugh or the local lads won the Hackney taste test, you'll need to watch the brand new series of River Cottage starting on Channel 4 on Wednesday 28th May (the honey tasting should figure in the first or second episode). Meanwhile, pass the gluten-free bread dips, please.



Columbus Foodie said...

I can see that you get your passion for food from your dad, Trig. I'm glad to see he instilled the same love for good quality ingredients in you, which I'm sure already does and will continue to influence your cooking. Thanks for sharing this with us. I'm always interested to hear about local foods in other parts of the world as well.

Helen said...

This is great, Hackney honey. I love it! I'll look out for the episode.

Mike said...

I got quite excited for a minute there, Helen, thinking you were calling me Hackney Honey. Then I realised it was just a misplaced comma and what you really meant was "this Hackney honey is great". I'm all disappointed now. said...

Great read, Mike! What a lovely way to spend your Saturday morning :-)


Chef Erik said...

Nice site. It's great to see someone with such passion for cooking. I've been cooking for 15+ years, self taught. I cook for a living and for fun once I get home. I'm hosting the Veg Head carnival this month, details are in my sidebar, feel free to submit any vegetarian articles. Hope you can make it.
ps...nice knife, where did you get it? Is it a western style?

Y said...

Well Hugh is quite the honey anyway, so it seems entirely appropriate, doesn't it? Erm.. doesn't it? :-D

Chris Lock said...

Any idea where I can buy/get hold of this Honey? I work in Shoreditch so would love to grab a few jars for the office.

Trig said...

Thanks guys. Chris - I've emailed you with details of where to buy the honey.

purl pirate said...

Argh, someone told me that the honey is on sale at Broadway Market, but there was no sign today.

i'm desperate for some to help with my hayfever!

Mike said...

Hackney Rooftop Honey are in the process of setting up a website for online sales, but for the time being you can buy their honey from H E Tidiman (Master Butchers), 57 Broadway Market, Hackney E8 4PH.

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