September 23, 2013
I completely geek-out when it comes to the beehive we inherited with our move a year back. Last spring, Santa Barbara’s local “bee man,” Paul, came over and uncovered the hive all healthy and buzzy with the promise of a fall harvest.
This beekeeper was ready. My glass jars were all lined up for collection with visions of me slathering that golden nectar on cheese or passing out Weck jars of honey around the Christmas tree with sweet satisfaction.
Enter Paul. As he carefully removed the trays it was obvious our hive was struggling. We did find the queen bee, which was amazing to see up close. I didn’t realize she was so much larger that the rest of the group.
What happened? It could have been the lack of rain fall this year, or an infestation of mites — we did discover one mite that we quickly squashed. It possibly was due to some unknown change in our environment, or maybe it’s just the nature of well, nature.
For now, I’ll stick with the San Marcos honey I find at our farmers market, or hope some of my successful honey maker friends will feel pity and share a Weck jar of their own. Either way, I’ll grab some good honey and make this favorite dessert. Just a few awesome ingredients, no baking and totally delicious. It’s like handing your guest a little fall treasure on a plate.
Cheese Course: Figs, Piave Cheese & Honey
Piave is a cow’s milk cheese from the Veneto region in Italy. It has that wonderful crystallizing crunch like a Parmesan Reggiano. You can find it at most cheese shops or high-end markets.
Wedge of Piave cheese
4 large figs
Honey to drizzle, about 4 teaspoons
1 sprig of fresh mint
Fresh cracked pepper
Cut the cheese in half (as if you were cutting the tip of the wedge off). Slice off the rind on both sides and slice across to make 12-15 thin slices (you will have perfect triangles).
Cut the top of the fig off and then quarter the fig. Place the Piave slices on a plate with the four slices of fig nestled up against it. Sprinkle the cheese and figs with cracked pepper. Then, drizzle with honey- about a teaspoon on each fig and finish with fresh mint leaves.
Serve on individual plates, with a dessert fork and knife.
My resident wine dudes (yes, there’s more than one) suggest you eat this dessert accompanied by a Valpollicella or Bardolino.