It’s traditional to wish people a שנה טובה ומתוקה (shanah tovah u-metukah) - a good, sweet New Year - during the Jewish High Holiday season. That desire for a sweet year is reflected in the symbolic custom of eating apples dipped in honey... sweetness layered upon sweetness.
This year, we had three - count ’em! - three different varieties of honey at our table. A honey trifecta, if you will.
Three different types of honey grace the Table of Elisson, hopefully a foretaste of a triply-sweet year.
In the covered glass dish toward the rear is delicately perfumed tupelo honey, from the flowers of the white tupelo trees that grow in the Florida panhandle. Unlike most varieties of honey, tupelo honey does not crystallize.
On the left, in the beehive-shaped dish, is buckwheat honey, a dark honey with a unique assertive flavor... in many ways the polar opposite of tupelo honey.
In the open dish on the right is date honey, AKA silan. Many scholars say that this is the honey referred to in the Bible when it speaks of Israel as “a land flowing with milk and honey,” despite there being evidence of apiaries as old as the tenth century B.C.E. I’m not an especial fan of dates - to me they look like the bastard offspring of prunes and cockroaches - but their sweet syrup has a distinctive, intriguing honey-like taste. I picked up a bottle of the stuff at Masada in July, and since then I’ve used it to make challah loaves with a special extra touch of Israel.
The apples? Granny Smiths and Galas... both of which went perfectly well with the various types of honey.
But the best treat might have been the challah, which, properly buttered, served as an excellent honey conveyance device... and, it is hoped, the harbinger of a bready, heady year.