Name: Honey of Nosy Komba
You can buy it: In the village of Nosy Komba, Madagascar
Purchased: February, 2009
Color: Dark amber
Flavor: Dark chocolate with hints of coconut and traces of malt. Think: Dark Chocolate Mounds Bar.
Fragrance: Faint chocolate.
Notes: I bought this honey on our recent Prager listener cruise which began in Mombassa, Kenya and ended in the Seychelle Islands. I look for honey wherever I go, but finding it is a lot harder than you might think. Processed honey is available the world over, but the unprocessed, local honey that I’m looking for is, often as not, a treasure hunt. Sometimes I find it where I least expect it.
One of our stops on this cruise was an island just off the northwest coast of Madagascar, Nosy Komba. Thickly forested, volcanic hills sloping up from the beach, the island is notable for its lemurs. You don’t have to go far to find them. They pretty much own the island. Fortunately, they are quite happy to interact with humans, especially those offering bananas. For Susie, who has always been a big lemur fan, this was a small slice of heaven. We also saw chameleons of astonishing green and orange, very big tortoises, and some intimidating snakes.
The people in the town set up stands selling local wares. They specialize in hand-stitched table clothes many of which were quite beautiful. We were just about to leave when I spotted a woman selling, among other things, local honey. Lemurs and chameleons were a thrill, but finding local honey pretty close to the middle of nowhere; that really got me excited.
I had to wait another ten days to open the jar. I didn’t want to risk taking an unsealed jar through Customs. As far as what it would taste like, I didn’t know what to expect. The dark chocolate flavor was a pleasant surprise.
You’ll have to travel literally half way around world, 12 times zones, to sample this honey. Until then, take my word for it: its unusual taste matches its exotic source.
Final note: I beheld the most magnificent sunset of my life as we sailed away from Madagascar — a golden dome sky painted with splashes of red and turquoise and accompanied by a flotilla of clouds so low that you’d swear they were five feet above the water. Just like honeys taste different depending on where they come from; sunsets appear different depending where you are in the world.
None are more stunning the ones I saw in Africa on this trip.
Postscript: I just received a lovely note from Donald Smiley, the owner of Smiley Apiaries and the maker of my new current favorite honey, Smiley ApiariesTupelo Honey, a honey that I describe as liquid sunshine. Following a “Honey Update” on the show, Donald received a lot of orders from Prager Listeners. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to hear this.
If you wondering what all the fuss is about click on #19..