Need to Up Your Charcuterie Board Game?
Meet Weston-based beekeeper, author and master honey sommelier, C. Marina Marchese.
Tucked away in the Bradley Edge Tool Company historic district of Weston is a storybook New England cottage that’s home to a honeybee haven with chickens, an organic garden and native plantings. A barn—handcrafted from wood milled in Kent—serves as a design studio and a honey house for beekeeper, author and master honey sommelier, C. Marina Marchese.
Marchese became smitten with honey after visiting a neighbor’s apiary and tasting honey straight from the hive. A week later, she quit her job to become a full-time beekeeper and founded Red Bee Honey. Her adventures fill her first book, Honeybee Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper, which was recently optioned for film and TV rights.
Honey is made exclusively by the female worker bee, who forages up to three miles from the hive to collect nectar. Landing on the sweetest smelling flower, she sips its nectar, adds some of her own enzymes, and carries it to the hive, where it’s stored in beeswax honeycomb. Her sisters create ventilation by flapping their wings to reduce moisture content, and eventually, the nectar is transformed into honey. A honeybee produces just one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its entire lifetime.
Each honey has a unique color, aroma and flavor based on the type of flowers the bees visit. The diversity of flowers around the world results in countless varietals of honey. While the botanical source plays the biggest role in the honey’s taste, it’s closely followed by climate and soil. A wildflower honey produced in Connecticut, for example, will taste completely different from one produced in Vermont.
Cheese is the perfect complement to honey, and a honey tasting is a delicious way to entertain guests. Imagine the soul-satisfying sweetness of honey drizzled over a creamy, salty cheese, with a bite of crusty bread and a fig or walnut. There are countless ways to pair this dynamic duo. One of Marchese’s favorite pairings is her own honeycomb with a triple crème cheese, fresh raspberries, pumpkin seeds and a crusty baguette.
Marchese teaches classes and curates private tastings for culinary organizations and curious-minded foodies. Through her work with Murray’s Cheese, she developed a talent for creating honey tasting menus that are a gastronomic delight. “Tasting all these honeys has helped me cultivate my palate and made me savor food through understanding flavors,” she notes.
Fascinated by the endless types of honey, Marchese enrolled in the Italian Register of Experts in the Sensory Analysis of Honey, and after passing the rigorous exams, she became the first U.S. citizen to be accepted as a member of the registry. In her second book, The Honey Connoisseur, she pioneered the concept of writing tasting notes for honey. Between her travels in pursuit of the next amazing honey, Marchese is usually found in her barn creating botanical art or tending to her hives.
The print version of this article appeared with the headline: The Sweet Life.