december 25, 2012
Alfredo Neuman has merry eyes and a kind smile. He spends his retirement as a beekeeper, maintaining at least 120 hives on the grounds of Brookview Farm in bucolic Manakin-Sabot, Virginia. Alfredo and his wife Barbara operate Alfredo’s Beehive at the well-attended South of the James Market in Forest Hill Park (now at Patrick Henry School for the winter term). This is a man who loves his work. Born and raised in Colombia, South America, Alfredo honors his late brother by practicing the art of apiary science. He offers a number of products and gives samples of two types of honey : clover, from nectar gathered in spring, and wildflower, a rich dark amber liquid from summer blooms at Brookview Farm and environs. This latter honey, pictured and used in today’s recipe, is exceptionally fragrant and rich tasting. Alfredo’s honey may also be purchased online or at Good Foods Grocery here in Richmond.
It would be easy to showcase Alfredo’s honey in baked goods, but perhaps its simple beauty might be eclipsed by the finished product. Today’s salad is a symphony of flavors. The salty tang of stilton cheese marries well with the sweet-tartness of honey and lemon, while the frisee lends a backnote of bitterness, offset by the creamy crunch of walnuts. Forelle pears are in season; tiny seckel pears would also do well, as would crisp bosc pears. To assemble ahead of time, crumble the cheese, whisk the honey and lemon and wash and dry the frisee. The pears should be cored and fanned just prior to serving to prevent browning. Use the small end of a melon baller to remove the seeds from the bottom, cut pears lengthwise and then make 1/8 inch cuts almost to the stem, fanning the pear half. Not to worry if your cuts are so aggressive that you remove slices from the fan – during salad assembly you can simply pack the slices tightly together.
As with the fall harvest salad in a recent post, use a nice large plain plate (white is perfect) to avoid the distraction of a busy pattern. This seasonal salad takes minimal effort to assemble and will wow your guests. You could add grilled or sautéed seafood, chicken or steak and call it a light lunch. Starting dinner with this salad will make your mouth happy and ready for whatever comes next. Enjoy.
honey lemon forelle pears with stilton
by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
3 T honey, preferably local
juice of one large lemon
one medium head frisee lettuce, about four handfuls, washed and dried
4 oz stilton cheese, crumbled
2 forelle pears
4 T best quality extra virgin olive oil (I like Laudemio)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- whisk honey and lemon in mixing bowl; reserve 4 tablespoons
- use small end of melon baller to core pears; cut lengthwise and then fan pear halves
- toss frisee with pinch of salt and honey lemon mixture in bowl, then arrange on chilled plates
- place pear halves atop frisee, then top with stilton and walnuts
- drizzle reserved honey lemon mixture over pear, cheese and walnuts
- dabble salad with olive oil, then grind pepper atop salad according to taste