Friday, September 23, 2011

NYC Honey Festival 2011 - Part 1

An incredibly sweet way to spend the day, yes? The Rockaway Beach Boardwalk in Queens played host to the first New York City Honey Festival (hosted by the Queens based Brooklyn Grange) this past weekend, and two of my friends and I decided to check it out.There was no better way to celebrate the first year of legal NYC beekeeping.

It was a gorgeous fall morning/afternoon....really glad that the weather was behaving itself.

This tempting delight was our first stop:

Why hello there, Mike's Hot Honey! This spicy blend of honey, vinegar, and chilies has long been on my wish list. Mike's assistant was slicing up chunks of Manchengo cheese and crusty bread for samples, and of course we pounced upon it like hungry mice.

The burn of the honey is warm and complex, rather than astringent. Sweet, but ends with a tingly bite.

Commerce! And a happy customer.

As we walked through the tables we spotted:

And silk-screening, courtesey of the Bushwick Print Lab:


I was this close to getting a little bee painted on my cheek, but I held off because I thought I'd look silly.

We then ran into the Backwards Beekeepers NYC table:

which was covered in:

Nothing to fear though, for they were all under glass. It was crazy how busy they looked.

Behind the boardwalk concessions, local beekeepers were demonstrating how they extracted honey from their hives throughout the day.. Tim O'Neal of Borough Bees talked about his hives and explained how the bees made the honey.

After the hives were uncapped (the bees seal the combs with wax when they're full) , they were ready to be spun in a honey centrifuge (the hand crank kind was in attendance, so you had to use some elbow grease to spin it):

And there's the honey coming out of the spout. From there it can be strained to get out stray pieces of wax, or just bottled as is.

I also bought a wee bear of Summer honey from Seward Trail Honey, which has liquid gold from various parts of the year.

Sixpoint Brewery was also on hand to quench our thirst with some honey brewed beers. I chose the pale ale, Little Buzz. It was smooth drinking with just a kiss of sweetness. There was another brew, I think it was called Medium Dark? But I think Little Buzz won my vote.

Kira and I, all smiles.

John, taking a sip. 
But, I think the COOLEST part of the day, was helping beekeeper Ralph Gaeta of Buck and Billie's Honey get some honey out of some particularly stubborn combs. Kira and I really got our hands dirty; She held down the centrifuge, and I used my very long arm to scrape every drop of honey towards the spout. Nary a drop was wasted!!!

Let it begin!

Teamwork! On the left, Kira. On the right, Ralph.

Straining the liquid gold. The wax bits left over, Ralph will use to make candles.
And here are some humorous photos of me not wasting any of the honey that had stuck to my arm:

You really can't take me anywhere.
Since we were so helpful, Ralph reserved two jars of his amazing honey for us before he sold out and it was definitely money well spent.

Here is a little bee enjoying some honey from the Honey Tasting, where Ralph got second place!

Please don't sting me.

After all of this carousing, it was time to take a relaxing walk on the beach, and catch a bit of the sunset.

But after all of this honey and other treats from the Rockaway Boardwalk, we were still hungry. Thank goodness there was a honey themed dinner in store for us.....stay tuned for the thrilling and belly filling conclusion in my next post!

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