Follow the Honey: The Place to Bee

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.

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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.

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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.

Follow the Honey tends to bees in their very own backyard!
Follow the Honey tends to bees in their very own backyard!

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.

A few of the honeys we tasted.
A few of the honeys we tasted.

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.

A view of the terrace at night.
A view of the terrace at night.

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.

Honey on tap!
Honey on tap!

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.

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The 2014 Boston Local Food Festival

By Orlea Miller ‘16

As I step off the T, I’m not sure which way to turn. I’m no native Bostonian and using the Subway is still quite the challenge for me. Luckily, someone else has predicted my dilemma and pointed me in the right direction, a mere 20 feet from South Station:

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As a self-proclaimed foodie, I’ve planned on attending Boston’s Local Food Festival for the last two years, but didn’t make it until this fall. Let’s just say I don’t think it’ll be my last time taking advantage of the incredible free food experience I had today.

This year’s 5th annual festival was themed “Healthy Local Food for All,” advertising a celebration of “the virtues of eating locally grown and produced food from Massachusetts and New England.” Translation: tons of free samples of produce, charcuterie, cookies, ice cream and beverages from local farmers and chefs, accompanied by performances by local musicians, and demos and exhibits about cooking, nutrition, health and exercise.

As I approach the beginning of the festival, which takes up about four blocks of Atlantic Avenue (close to Boston’s Aquarium), my face lights up in anticipation of this culinary adventure.

We immediately encounter Cupcake City’s food truck, offering a traditional cookies and cream cupcake, in addition to unique fall flavors including salted caramel, vanilla chai, and pumpkin. Just to the right Bart’s Homemade is parked, an ice cream stand selling its own twist on flavors, such as Deep Purple Cow Yogurt (black raspberry yogurt with white and dark chocolate chunks), Three Geeks and a Red Head (coconut ice cream with coconut flakes, chocolate chunks, fudge brownies, and a raspberry swirl), and Dutch Chocolate with Orange (chocolate ice cream with orange and vanilla extracts).

And in case the sweet, creamy treat didn’t appeal to the taste pallets of locals on Sunday afternoon, Flatbread Company was serving up pizza straight out of their brick oven just a few feet over.

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As my stomach tries to fathom the tastes I’m experiencing, my friend and I make a tough call: we’ll walk the entire festival before deciding what we’ll have for lunch.

Luckily for us, we didn’t have to stay hungry. With free samples from just about every booth, we were full before we made it too much further.

First up is Michele’s—a New Hampshire based popcorn company offering samples of their chocolate, buffalo supreme, sweet and salty, and extra cheddar flavors.

 

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Maple Nut Kitchen is serving up its gluten free and vegan granola just to the right, encouraging samplers to try each of its twelve flavors. The mocha chip was perfect, and the fruity flavors, such as Northern Berry Harvest and Southern Cherry Almond, allow you to experience a crunchy sweet and savory blend all together.

As if the 60 degree weather isn’t doing fall justice, each booth’s display reminds me of the approaching season as well. Decorated with pumpkins and leaves, the offerings of fall fruits and vegetables and vegan/vegetarian chili dishes allow me to spend the day taking in all of the delicious flavors that fall traditionally brings to the East Coast.

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In between the rows of local food vendors were exhibits and do-it-yourself stages, including a cooking demonstration by Red Lentil’s Pankaj Pradhan. After watching the chef display his expertise on Indian-style plant-based foods, I was convinced my lunch would include something from the Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurant’s booth.

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I chose the tofu kabob and rice, a delicious choice that provided the traditional Indian feel, topped off with a cilantro-based sauce which gave it a unique twist.

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My friend started off sweet, enjoying a cantaloupe filled treat. The fruit just provided the container, and was filled with something that resembled a strawberry smoothie that attracted all sorts of attention throughout the remainder of our stroll.

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Afterward, she switched to savory and selected a honey butter biscuit filled with fried chicken, and topped with maple syrup.

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By this point, the two of us were happily stuffed, yet managed to squeeze in seconds at our favorite local food vendors’ booths. We went back for cookies, popcorn, Q’s Nuts’s offerings (a family-owned and operated nut company), and even a pasta dish being prepared by a chef right before our eyes.

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We couldn’t leave the food festival without our ice cream, and ended our afternoon with treats from SoCo Creamery, which unfortunately we consumed before either of us had a chance to snap a photo. My friend went for the Coconut and Brownie flavor, and I had a cone of Espresso Cookie, savoring every last bite while we walked back to South Station to return to Harvard Square.

Boston’s Local Food Festival surpassed any expectations I had for the event. The food samples were endless and delicious, the music added just the right surrounding mood, and the gorgeous weather was the perfect way to experience all that Boston has to offer its residents.