Fresh Figs & Honey on Honey Lavender Gelato

Question: Does honey taste good on everything? 
Answer: Yes.  
Figs and honey
Honey, like vanilla, is an unsung hero in everyday America.  It can be found in most people’s cupboards, in every supermarket and bodega, and even in diners.  It is something that one might not consider a luxury, because it has become an every day commodity.  However, the cultivation of honey is quite complex, and the resulting ingredient should get the respect it deserves.  Through a process of foraging, digesting, regurgitating, evaporating air, and monitoring the temperature of the hive to prevent fermentation, bees are able to produce a thick, sweet liquid that has a myriad of culinary uses.  And to make things even better, bacteria doesn’t grow in honey, meaning that it can last for centuries (really!).  It is a food that never goes bad.  

The one thing that I learned early on in my gelato making is that honey goes really well with goats milk, especially when paired with a floral or herbal flavor.  I was always tempted to add even half a cup to our Herbal Blend, or Minty flavors when we had the shop.  It always brings out the flavor in a way that sugar can’t.  However, honey has a strong flavor in and of itself, and cannot be used as the sole sweetener- except in our Honey Rosemary gelato.  Hence, our Honey Lavender.  For our Honey Lavender flavor we use a wildflower honey from Tremblay Apiaries in Van Etten, NY.  The honey not only adds sweetness, but also contributes to the velvety texture and delicious flavor that gently compliments the organic lavender buds in the milk.  

Honey also works as a topping for Honey Lavender, and does not “gild the lily”, as I am sure many of you would be concerned about.  The simple gelato pairing that we have for this time of year is Honey Lavender Gelato with fresh figs and honey drizzle.  Though figs are not local to the Northeast, they pop up at supermarkets and fruit stands twice a year for a few weeks.  Late August, early September is one such time.  Though I love figs, I have learned that I like them fresh, not cooked, which takes away from their sensual texture and subtle flavor.  A drizzle of honey enhances their flavor without taking away from its nuance. 

These are other honey combinations that I love in and out of the ice cream world: 
Honey + Orange Blossom Water + Mint + Rum (a different sort of mojito)
Honey + Orange Blossom in ice cream or cream based desserts
Honey + Mint and other herbs in refreshing drinks
Honey + Raw Cacao Nibs on yogurt 
Honey + Thyme + milk or cheese
Honey + Lemon + Tequila (a different sort of margarita) 
Honey + Rose in ice cream or cream based desserts
Honey + Cinnamon on bread 
Honey + Banana + PB 
Honey + Banana + Carob or Chocolate in Smoothies 
Honey + Almonds 
Honey + Oregano in black tea 
Honey + Fennel Pollen + Lavender buds on yogurt