13 November 2014
Lorraine Eaton, Virginian-Pilot's award-winning Staff Epicure (excerpt from her blog on HamptonRoads.com)
How sweet was this assignment?
The other night, I drove over to Chesapeake for the Tidewater Beekeepers Association’s annual honey contest where beekeepers from across Tidewater proffer the liquid from their hives.
A glowing arc of local jarred and bottled honeys awaited me and my fellow judge, Steinhilber’s Executive Chef Peter J. Stine.
Some honeys were amber colored, others had more of a yellow cast, and one, from bees that worked a field of a certain type of flower, was the color of blackstrap molasses.
Beekeepers, it seems, move in a sort of parallel universe that’s invisible to the rest of us. They know where hives are located all across the region and, what types of flowers are nearby and what sort of honey that nectar will yield.
They also know about the secret lives of bees, which is endlessly fascinating and magical. Consider that it takes more than 22,000 bees to make just one jar of honey!
Some of the honeys that Chef and I sampled tasted floral, some citrusy and some even had a little hint of pepper. None had the flat-sweet flavor of commercial honey. Bottom line: buy your honey local.
Congrats to the winners: Peoples Choice went to Kate and Michael Walsh of Suffolk and the overall winner was Paul Sarandria of Portsmouth.
Lorraine Eaton is The Virginian-Pilot's award-winning Staff Epicure, who roams Tidewater writing about the foodways and cocktail scene.
She is the author of "Tidewater Table," (2013) a local bestseller featuring coastal Virginia cooks and recipes (think soft-shell crabs, okra, oysters, deviled eggs, bbq and such.) In 2014, she co-authored the "Food Lover's Guide to Virginia," (Globe Pequot Press) a culinary chapbook of the state's best eats. Her work has won local, state and national awards and she has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Lorraine's stories have been featured in The Washington Post, Outer Banks Magazine. Her long-form non-fiction pieces have been published in three anthologies, including "Best Food Writing 2012," an annual compilation of the best American essays and stories on the topic.
Look for her stories in www.hamptonroads.com/flavor. And find recipes posted by Lorraine. Visit her Facebook page, too.