Honey is flavored by a multitude of flowering plants within a three- mile radius, so no two are quite the same. How do New York City honeys fare against their upstate and international rivals? We convened an expert panel to assess eight different brands. Between palate-cleansing swigs of Perrier, the foursome blind-tasted (and sniffed, as one would a fine wine) each spoonful, awarding a maximum of 30 points each for taste, texture, and sweetness (for a possible perfect score of 120 points).
Christina Tosi, pastry chef at Momofuku Milk Bar
Amateur beekeeper Julian Niccolini, co-owner of The Four Seasons Restaurant
1. Seggiano acacia honey
$17.99 for 17.5 oz. at Whole Foods
Bottled by biologist-beekeeper Mauro Pagliaccia in Italy’s ancient Etruscan region, this pale honey earned perfect scores from Feldman, who praised its “wild-tasting” quality.
2. Tremblay Apiaries Summerflower honey
$5 for 16 oz. at Union Square Greenmarket
This summer honey from a small upstate apiary received the highest scores for a Greenmarket honey. Tosi especially loved its “fieldiness.” Judged the best bang for the buck.
3. Berkshire Berries New York City Roof-Top Magic honey
$5 for 1.5 oz. at Union Square Greenmarket
Made by beekeeping legend David Graves from New York City hives, an excellent, if pricey, honey. Tosi praised its “fine flavor, with a hint of grain.” The top local brand.
4. Golden Blossom honey
$6.49 for 16 oz. at Food Emporium
The supermarket standard got high points from Tosi, who uses similar honeys in her Milk Bar confections. But Niccolini was on to its mass-market origins: “Very commercial.”
5. The Hamptons Honey Company pure honey with comb
$11.99 for 16 oz. at Whole Foods
Castronovo liked this “delicate, healthy” Long Island honey more than the other panelists. “I think I got some wax bits in there,” he said, seemingly pleased.
6. Berkshire Berries pure raw honey
$12 for 16 oz. at Union Square Greenmarket
This spring clover honey from Graves’ Berkshires hives lost points from Tosi and Feldman, who thought it “overly sweet.” But Niccolini and Castronovo gave higher marks.
7. Queens County Farm Museum honey
$9 for 16 oz. at Union Square Greenmarket or the farm
During the bee-ban era, the Farm Museum was one of the few legal retailers of real New York City honey. The tasters all found this one “passable” but thought it lacked character.
8. Andrew’s Taste-Bud Bursting local wildflower honey
$10 for 16 oz. at Union Square Greenmarket and Tompkins Square Greenmarkets
Niccolini actually gets his bees from this honey’s maker, Andrew Coté. But the honey was too mild for these palates. “Not much there,” said Tosi.