Over the last couple of weeks I have dined in three one Michelin starred restaurants and another one that became a Michelin starred restaurant the day later, I have eaten excellent street food and in a couple of pretty decent Korean restaurants, I’ve cooked grouse (rather well, if I do say so myself) and a few other bloggable dishes, and for two days I sat and watched a chef with two Michelin stars working on recipes with his development and pastry chefs.
But all I really want to write about is cheese and honey.
One Saturday at the beginning of summer I went to an evening called Beef Cartel, run by a young butcher come chef called Niall Davidson. We ate a number of pretty extraordinary tasting beef courses – raw bavette, bone marrow and seaweed lives long in the memory. At the end of it we were served Isle of Mull cheddar, a glass of whisky and fresh honeycomb. The combination of those three things was brilliant.
I’ve tried it a number of times since, and the cheese matched with oozing lumps of glorious wax and honey gets me every time (the whisky less so – but I blame that on a little drinking incident on New Year’s Eve 1999).
In fact, following a thoroughly scientific test last night, I can confirm that honey is my preferred sweet thing to have on or near a cheese board, above Eccles cakes, quince cheese, grapes and general chutneys (in that order).
Isle of Mull cheddar is a particularly good match. The cheese is salty and nutty as well as a bit herby and fruity and that seems to balance perfectly with sweet honey. Other quality cheddars like Keen’s and Montgomery’s don’t appear quite so perfectly paired, but honeycomb is still a beauty of a condiment.
If you have not had the pleasure of scraping the last dregs of honey off a cheese board, using a chunk of Isle of Mull cheddar, I urge you to try it.
Londoners, you can get superb honeycomb from the London Honey Company in the Spa Terminus part of Maltby Street Market and also the Pimlico, Blackheath and West Hampstead farmers’ markets. Well kept Isle of Mull cheddar is available at Neal’s Yard, La Fromagerie, Whole Foods and I’m sure plenty of other places too.
7 thoughts on “Isle of Mull cheddar & honeycomb”
Beautiful post and I so agree about pairing cheese with honey (I can highly recommend pairing a salty pecorino with the bold flavour of chestnut honey).
And this sentence “If you have not had the pleasure of scraping the last dregs of honey off a cheese board, using a chunk of Isle of Mull cheddar, I urge you to try it.” is mouthwateringly good. Beautiful writing, as always!
Ed – I did manchego, honey and fresh thyme as one of my courses on Saturday night – can’t agree more about the combination although hadn’t thought about the whiskey before! And was it Medlar you went to? We went on Wednesday and the star got announced on Thursday I think. Epic meal.
Sophia – Thanks very much. Pecorino and chestnut honey sounds lovely.
Hannah – Nice one. The whisky was a very good addition – it was a really peaty one and just added another complimentary dimension. I think both the whisky and the honeycomb were from the Isle of Mull as well – there’s a lot to be said for things growing together eating well together.
Oh, and it was Dabbous, not Medlar (though I do think Medlar is excellent).
Also agree that Wild Honey (Italian is amazing) with Pecorino sounds cool.
Neils Yard in November, Will try the Mull Chedar /honey gig, can’t wait. Michelin wise our hero Clare Smyth gets a visit. Big up the Kerb.
Had some Wookey Hole cave aged yesterday (nice).
Cracking combination- am sure there’s something lovely in the soft crumble of the cheese against the wax of the honey. Shall chalk it up for the ‘to do’ list as the weather continues to darken and the whiskey bottle gets pulled out more frequently.
I was googling for ‘cheese & honeycomb’ and came across this page. I’m selling honeycomb at a Christmas Fair in Tobermory next Friday and thought I’d find a picture to help sell it as an ideal part of the Christmas cheeseboard. Then I read the article and realised it might have something to do with the two London chefs who dashed in on their way to the ferry to buy a dozen combs from us. I think we’re the only folk on Mull who sell honeycomb. If so, the bees were feeding on the flowers in the pastures grazed by the cows that produce Isle of Mull Cheddar. No wonder the two flavours went together so well!