Review: Honey trip and bounty
Until today, my only experience in life with honey has been whatever was on the shelf at the retail supermarkets. Never really paid much attention. Seemed decent enough on a piece of toast or something. Over the past few months, I've used the supermarket-honey in various quantities in my own breads. In smaller quantities, I can't detect it at all, and in larger quantities, there is an off-smell (to me), and not very appetizing.
There was a recent discussion here about how a lot of the honey we get at those supermarkets are from suspect origins, etc. Yes, there is definitely something to it -- it's no conspiracy theory.
So, being curious, I got online and found a local honeybee farm here in the bay area, CA. Marshall's Honey, run by Helene and Spencer, a husband and wife operation. It is located in the Napa Valley, about a 45 minute drive for me. I called ahead to make sure they were available, and they were, so today I took a drive up.
I found Helene working in the primary "processing" building (a small cottage style building). Helene was super-friendly and warmly invited me in. This wasn't a retail storefront, but their actual work-room. It consisted of a press, a bunch of tanks, and some bees buzzing around (the bees were docile), and various glass jars, lids, and other work-items on shelves. There were no filtration devices of any kind. They just simply press the honeycombs, extract the honey, and keep the honey in tanks with a small spigot at the bottom. There are little bits of pollen in this honey. Each tank is a different strain of honey, and some are blends of various strains. They maintain hives all throughout the SF bay area, and harvest new honey weekly.
I didn't know what to get, so Helene got me a tasting spoon, and she led me around to all the tanks, opened up the spigots, and I got to taste most of everything.
Oh. My. Gosh.
I am not kidding around. From the very first taste of the SF Bay Area Blend, it was like I'd been living in a black-and-white world, and Helene turned on the Technicolor for the first time. This honey is absolutely incredible. I've never tasted anything like it before. The SF Bay Area blend is deeply rich, bold, and intoxicating. Other strains like the Wild Blackberry and Orange Blossom are fruity. It's amazing to taste a honey that is fruity. Star Thistle tastes almost like candy. We spent about 30 minutes tasting honeys, talking about honey, bees, and bread. A very nice visit. She doesn't need a marketing dept, the product sells itself.
I wanted to buy all of it, the tanks and everything. :-) But I decided upon 4 jars, which in itself is going overboard... and I also got a few sampler-packs I plan to give out for holiday gifts. Helene brought out new, empty glass jars and filled them up for me, straight from the spigots. :-)
Do yourself a favor. Try locating a local honey farmer in your area and get some natural unfiltered honey. If there are none, call up the Marshalls and get some from them. http://www.marshallshoney.com 
I wanted to take pictures of the place, but I didn't because since they didn't know me at all, they might have thought it weird if I pulled out a camera and started taking pictures. This wasn't like some big industrial facility.. just a local farm... in their personal work-room... 
But here's the bounty. From left to right: Wild Blackberry, SF Bay Blend, Orange Blossom, and Star Thistle.
All from bee hives around the bay area, CA.