SOURCED, PAIRED AND MIXED BY TARA STEVENS AND GAIL LEONARD
HONEY FOR CHEESE
VARIETY: LAVENDER
PRODUCER: HICHAM NAFIS CHERGUI
HIVE LOCATION: KENITRA (BETWEEN CASABLANCA AND FEZ)
CHARACTERISTICS: A thick caramel-coloured honey with hints of lavender. Soothes headaches, calms eczema and reduces bruising. Can be spooned into camomile tea to aid sleep or alleviate stress. Or used as a nourishing face mask.
PAIRINGS TIPS: Drizzle over soft, fresh goats cheese with a bunch of mint leaves and dried fruit and nuts on the side.
HONEY FOR FISH
VARIETY: CAPER
PRODUCER: HICHAM NAFIS CHERGUI
HIVE LOCATION: FEZ
CHARACTERISTICS: a surprising olive oil green colour, thick texture and mellow taste with a subtle prickle of saltiness
PAIRING TIPS: Goes well with fish, especially strong flavoured fish like mackerel. Mix it together with lemon juice, herbs and aromatics (sage, coriander, parsley, capers, green olives) and use as a marinade before placing the fish under the grill or on the barbecue.
HONEY FOR LAMB
VARIETY: ROSEMARY AND WHITE THYME
PRODUCER: HICHAM NAFIS CHERGUI
HIVE LOCATION: ROSEMARY FROM TAZA IN THE FOOTHILLS OF THE RIF, WHITE THYME FROM THE SOUSS NEAR AGADIR
CHARACTERISTICS: white thyme honey is thick and unctuous, rosemary is soft and dense. Both have herbaceous nuances. Rosemary is good for colds and anaemia. White thyme is considered anti-bacterial, and administered after surgery.
PAIRING TIPS: blended with lamb in mind as a rub (mechouia) for a slow-cooked shoulder or leg. Mix with butter and other Moroccan spices (cumin, cinnamon, paprika, ginger and cardamom).
HONEY FOR PUDDING
VARIETY: FIG AND CAROB
PRODUCER: HICHAM NAFIS CHERGUI
HIVE LOCATION: FIG FROM TOUNES IN THE MIDDLE ATLAS, CAROB FROM BENI MELLAL BETWEEN MARRAKECH AND CASABLANCA
CHARACTERISTICS: : fig honey looks like molasses and is know for its calming properties. Carob is more chocolately and aids the digestive system making them excellent for the end of the meal. Both are thick, luxuriant and decadent honeys.
PAIRING TIPS: Use in sticky toffee pudding instead of the toffee or dolloped into porridge or drizzled over a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Stir into Greek yogurt, and over hot, buttered crumpets.
HONEY FOR ROAST VEGETABLES
VARIETY: JUJUBIER
PRODUCER: TAOUFIK BENAMAR
HIVE LOCATION: FEZ
CHARACTERISTICS: A dense, heavy golden honey, with ripe peach tones that enhances sweetness in other foods. Its own sweetness is mellow rather than cloying with a pleasingly nutty finish. It has anti-stress qualities.
PAIRING TIPS: great for glazing veggies before roasting, particularly carrots, beetroot and sweet potatoes. Also good stirred into a cream-cheese icing for lemon cup cakes.
HONEY FOR HEALTH
VARIETY: EUPHORBIA HONEY
PRODUCER: HICHAM NAFIS CHERGUI
HIVE LOCATION: SOUSS NEAR AGADIR
CHARACTERISTICS: A very rare honey largely used medicinally in Morocco. It’s considered a tonic for just about everything, but in particular it is used in the treatment of diabetes, cancer and kidney infections.
PAIRING TIPS: Dissolve a teaspoon of the honey in a glass of water every morning for breakfast
PROFILES OF THE HONEY PRODUCERS:
HICHAM NAFIS CHERGUI
Fondouk Kaat Smen 81, Ta’laa K’bira, +212 535 634 269
Hicham Nafis Chergui is the earliest riser in the Fez medina, opening the shutters of his small stall in the Fondouk Kaat Smen (the honey and smen souk) at 7.30am every morning when most of the medina’s trade folk rarely emerge from their dens before 10. The reason is that he tends the dead, or more accurately, the grieving family and friends who traditionally eat nothing but bread, honey and smen during the preparations of the funeral rites.
Hicham’s honey is widely regarded as some of the best not only in Fez, but in the whole of Morocco, sourcing his product from remote hives, wild bees and rare herbs and flowers from all over the country. He offers some 17 different varieties, including tiny batches of pure honey from feral bees (unfortunately, unavailable anywhere outside of the honey souk). The following are our favourites both as pure honey, coupages created by Gail and Tara, and for pairing with other ingredients.
TAOUFIK BENAMAR
Route Sidi Bousserghine, Sefrou,+212 669 103 664, www.betamiel.ma
Taoufik Benamar runs a small honey cooperative in the pretty little town of Sefrou, about 1 hours drive from Fez. He just makes three types: Jujubier – an unusual honey considered one of the finest in the world, Rosemary and Aloe Vera. For this project we went with the best.