by Adam Wong ’17 and Caroline Gentile ‘17
Before Thanksgiving break, the owners of Follow the Honey kindly hosted Crimson Crave for a honey-tasting extravaganza and information session. As we entered the basement of 1132 Massachusetts Avenue, with our cold toes poking out of our flip-flops, we were embraced by warm lighting, warm air, and warm, flowery smells.
We started off at the raw bar, where people can come in and sample tons of honey for free. A lot of the honey sold there was from small local beekeepers, but we had a variety of different honeys from around the world, paired with local French-style cheddar and French bread.
How local is local, you ask? In fact, surprisingly, there are many beekeepers in the urban setting of Cambridge. Follow the Honey even has their own bees and makes their own honey. However, we also tried honeys from places as far away and remote as Colombia and Tanzania. The owner, Mary Canning, and her daughter, Caneen, take trips to visit the beekeepers all over the world to get a better sense of where the product is coming from. They hope to encourage beekeepers, from all over, but especially developing countries, to take advantage of the resources at hand to make delicious honey.
What was most striking was the pure variety of honey, and the variety of flavors, textures, and colors it could take on. Honey is made from and takes its flavor from the nectar of the flowers that bees pollinate. It is the extraction of flavor of these otherwise inaccessible flavors inside flowers. What makes these flavors so inaccessible? The tiny amounts of nectar per flower. Bees must extract it all and concentrate it into honey! Honey made from melon honey does not necessarily taste like melons, and a wild flower honey does not taste like a wild flower.
There is an unbelievable amount of flavors honey can take on, which is dependent on the bee that makes it, but also the flower from which the bee extracts the nectar. There are hard honeys, which have a degree of granularity due to the crystallization of sugar. One type of honey we tasted from Hawaii was pure white and dissolved in your mouth, like white sand being washed away by a wave. Other honeys took on ridiculous flavors like chocolate, cinnamon, turmeric, and we swear to god, marshmallows. Some honeys were made from oak flowers, tasted like caramel, and looked like amber.
Although the honey they sell is certainly reason enough to stop by Follow the Honey, the store itself is simply adorable. The interior is warm and inviting, and in the warmer months, their terrace offers a burst of nature in an otherwise urban environment.
Among the growing number of chains that seem to be popping up in Harvard Square, the uniqueness of Follow the Honey is striking. Not only do they sell honey in the usual glass jar, but they also sell honeycomb, honey on tap, and other bee-themed products.
If you are looking to buy a unique gift, taste some honey, or want to show off a cool place in Harvard Square to your parents, Follow the Honey is definitely the place to bee.