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Honey, we’re good: Sweet menu items at local restaurants, and how to use the nectar

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 18, 2022

In honor of A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” entering the public domain, here is a list of honey-focused menu items and a few tips and tricks for using honey at home recommended by chefs from some of our favorite local restaurants.

What to order

Whether you’re looking for a sweet cocktail or a treat to go along with it, Hogwash Whiskey Den, 304 W. Pacific Ave., offers a wide array of ways to enjoy honey. The cornbread with honey-browned butter is always a “customer favorite,” chef C.J. Callahan said.

After the cornbread, Callahan recommends the “miso-honey”-flavored chicken wings and cracklins (chicharrons) drizzled in jalapeño hot honey.

Vieux Carre NOLA Kitchen, 1403 W. Broadway Ave., also offers its own honey-forward cornbread.

“Our cornbread is basically a honey bomb,” chef Jeana Pecha said. “It’s made with honey and topped with honey butter, and if that wasn’t enough, a honey drizzle, as well. It’s sweet but savory, as well, and is such a fun time.”

At Italia Trattoria, 144 S. Cannon St., try “The Bee’s Knees” cocktail.

“‘The Bee’s Knees’ … is mixed with our own honey, fresh lemon juice and a very floral and aromatic gin called Uncle Val’s from Oregon,” general manager, co-owner and beekeeper Bethe Bowman said. “It is an extremely popular drink.”

Other honey-featuring dishes at Italia Trattoria include the Prosciutto di Parma served with house-made mozzarella, grilled peaches and a drizzle of honey and the Panna cotta served with seasonal fruit and honey.

“The Italians love their bees and honey,” Bowman said. “There are festivals and whole towns in Italy that celebrate honey and the bee. Anybody that works with food should support bees. They are responsible for at least one-third of our food. We respect those little critters, their ability to pollinate and just adore the sweet nectar they make.”

How to use it

Honey pairs well with cheese, cured meats, duck, pork and vegetables.

“Each honey has so many different characteristics that the possibilities are endless,” Bowman said. “We taste the honey and pair accordingly. You can have a very elegant floral honey or a deep dark buckwheat honey. Just taste it and enjoy.”

“Honey is a great binder for vinaigrettes and an even better mixed into soft cheeses or butter,” Pecha said. “I love to use it to balance sauces and use it as a sugar replacement in some recipes.”

And, “if you haven’t tried honey on vanilla ice cream, you are missing out.”

Callahan recommends trying “spun” or “whipped honey.”

“It’s a great way to use honey when it crystallizes,” he said. “Take equal parts crystallized honey and liquid honey and mix until it becomes almost like whipped cream. You can put it on toast, fried chicken, your favorite breakfast pastry.” You can even add it to your morning coffee.

Another of Callahan’s favorite ways to use honey in the kitchen is in wellness shots.

“When you’ve worked too much, drank too much, or you’re just feeling under the weather, take some local honey, lemon juice, cayenne, apple cider vinegar, some crushed garlic and a splash of hot water,” he said. “Mix it, and bottoms up.” You’ll be feeling better in no time.

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