Three Very Good Things: Honey Pistachio, Farmhouse Bread, and Single-Cow Butter

Pistachio honey

{This is part of a series in which I share three delicious things recently tasted and enjoyed. Please feel free to share your 3VGT list in the comments below, or on your own blog!}

My latest “three very good things” are as follows:

~ Pistachio honey from Sicily

Maxence and I recently chanced upon a gelateria* in Paris’ seventh arrondissement. It was pouring rain, but that didn’t lessen the pull of gelato one bit, and as we sat down to our little tubs of vanilla (for Maxence) and chocolate sorbet (for myself), I noticed a shelf stocked with miscellaneous jarred goods of Italian origin.

Among them, a Composto Miele e Pistacchio from Sicily, described on the little label as a mix of 85% honey and 15% pistachios. These being two of my favorite things yet seldom seen together, I promptly bought a jar. We tried it on toasted sourdough the next morning, and were smitten with this creamy, golden spread, the flavors of honey and pistachio melding together in a most titillating way.

The only problem is that it is disappearing fast, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to get more: the lady who served our ice cream informed us that the gelateria would be closing soon, and the company that makes the honey, a Gioiello di Sicilia based in Milo, Sicily, has a limited online presence: the website listed on the label no longer exists, and their facebook page is dormant.

So what I plan to do instead is make my own: I’ll mix some of the creamy springtime honey I bring back from the Vosges with a bit of the pistachio paste from Terre Exotique I’ve been saving for just this type of worthy purpose.

* VasaVasa, 41 avenue de la Bourdonnais, 75007 Paris, +33 (0)1 47 05 84 30.

~ Julhès’ pain fermier

Pain fermier

I am always on the lookout for purveyors of good bread for my breakfast toast, and I was delighted to discover that Julhès, a multi-faceted food store on rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, has a decently priced and very well done selection.

On my first visit I honed in on the pain fermier (“farmhouse bread”), a rustic sourdough-leavened bread made with a bit of rye flour and lots of seeds, and I was instantly hooked. The good news is, Maxence’s offices are now close by, which means I get a surprise loaf of it every now and then.

~ Single-cow butter from Blue Hill Farm

Blue Hill butters

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to take part in a special lunch cooked by Dan Barber at the Plaza Athénée in Paris. It was part of Alain Ducasse’s “Rencontres Essentielles” lunch series, for which he invites chefs he admires from around the world.

The chef from Blue Hill had put together a menu that showcased the work he’s been doing with breeders to come up with new varieties of fruits, vegetables, and grains, based on heirlooms but perfected with modern breeding techniques to maximize flavor as well as disease resistance. (More on that soon when I share a Q&A with the chef.)

Lunch was wonderful from beginning to end, but one of the things that most captured my imagination was the butter tray: it featured three different butters, each made with the milk from a single cow from Dan Barber’s dairy farm. (The fourth mound to the right in the picture is rendered pork fat.)

I can’t honestly say I was able to taste the difference — my palate was far too stimulated at this point to do a proper butter tasting. But in a world where the food industry’s ambition is to produce uniform, homogenized goods, I love the idea of letting each cow express its singular traits through its own butter production, each a distinctive shade of yellow from cream to buttercup.

  • Candice

    Oooh pistachio honey!That sounds delicious. Hopefully they wont close before I have a chance to visit them!

  • That pistachio honey sounds to die for. I can’t wait to see what you come up with when you make it.

  • I love the walnut honey I buy in the Vercors each year, but my current favourites list are mostly Turkish:

    1) Fresh Turkish flatbreads – I don’t know what you call them, but they are huge, and slightly risen so you can slice them in half lengthwise. And they are only 50p each, and one is more than enough for lunch for 3! I am buying them every time I go past that particular Turkish foodshop, now, about once a week!

    2) Ulker Golden (that’s the brand name) plain chocolate with pistachio nuts in it, which is seriously to die for. Your local Turkish supermarket probably has it. I recommend it.

    3) Not Turkish but the best pistachio ice-cream I’ve ever tasted from Oddono’s Gelateria in Bute Street, London. Mmmmm…

  • Nancy

    I had some of Dan Barber’s butter (and still warm ricotta) at a special dinner at Blue Hill Stone Barns a few weeks ago — sublime (as well as their amazing brioche with ancient grain flour, plus countless other snacks and courses). His jam is also exquisite — a veritable rival to my Paris brand of choice — Christine Ferber.

  • Jessi Peterson

    Was the pork fat just for visual contrast or did it get tried too? I imagine the same things you said of the butter could apply to the lard as well. I just rendered the fat from our two hogs and am planning what to do with it – lard has gotten a bad rap. I wouldn’t use it as a sandwich spread, but some people have fond memories of lard and sugar sandwiches. And Zingerman’s sells a Lardo spread that is cured spiced pork fat – highly tasty.

    • I tried it too of course! I understand biscuits and scones made with lard are excellent…

      • kira

        I’ve used lard in a quiche with great success. Either half, lard half butter or lard only. Turned out very nice.

    • lard, particularly with crispy bacon bits or onion is commonly served with bread in Poland. Not the healthiest thing but can be delicious.

  • Draquin

    The pistachio honey spread sounds gorgeous. I look forward to reading about your making some.

  • oh my goodness pistachio honey sounds too good to be true. Honey + nuts would definitely make my 3 very good things list, and good bread and butter are all the better to eat them with!

  • I love the combination of honey and pistachio – I’ve made honey and pistachio scones before (must remember to put them on the blog, thank you for reminding me!) and they were LUSH!

  • That’s so true what you said about the specialness of each animal in terms of the finished product. I really like that perspective (never heard of it before!)

    1)Pecans dipped in honey
    2)Instant parfait: layers of mild yogurt, creme fraiche, and warm mirabelle jam made with plums from my potager.
    3) Aged Parmesan slivers on tortilla chips

    • Triple yum! I need to try the parmesan + tortilla chips, I never would have thought to pair the two but see how well it would work.

  • Aisha

    Hi Clotilde! So funny that you’d find pistachio and honey in the same container! Whenever she goes to Iran, my mother-in-law brings me back a snack that’s basically nuts layered in a jar of honey (lots of pistachios, cashews and almonds). You spoon it out of the jar and the honey-pistachio combination is addictive!

    • Ooh, I’ve seen those jars before, but never tried them!

  • My mouth is watering!!
    My 3GVT…
    Seven grain sourdough from a bakery in Melbourne called Noisette.
    Hand cultured butter from the Myrtleford butter Factory.
    Smoked garlic from Grampians Organics..

    • And you 3VGT also sound like they would come together to make a great snack!

  • Liz Thomas

    I have to say the thought of “Single Cow Butter’made me laugh out loud. I suppose it could well be different from cow to cow but it also sounds very gimmicky.

    Must be very expensive to make too and doubtless made by hand as I think you’d have to make it in very small batches. My grandmother made all her own butter so I do know what is involved.

    The pistachio honey sounds lovely!

  • joe

    Pistach honey does sound lovely, perhaps I’ll try it with California pistachios and local honey.

  • I have never had pistachio honey, sounds delicious though.

  • Pistachio and honey are probably two of my favorite things. I can imagine eating these two things on the lovely bread that you mentioned. There are so many delicious foods in this world – thanks for sharing them with us!!

  • Susan Bovee

    When I was growing up in northern Minnesota, my mother sent me to the local creamery to buy fresh lard. She would use lard plus an egg-sized knob of butter in pie crust, and she was known for her pies. My father accepted only two desserts other than pie: white cake with chocolate fudge frosting, or very occasionally, fudge. None of the marshmallow chocolate mixture masquerading as fudge, but real, cooked fudge that was boiled, cooled slightly and beaten until it began to lose its gloss, then poured onto a platter to cool. But her pies were indescribable. Flakey, tender crust. Oh my!

  • Chester

    Hi Clotilde – reeeally looking forward to your Q & A of Dan Barber – he is awesome. Have you seen his inspiring, fun TED Talks?

    • Yes, I have! I’ll link to them in the Q&A — thanks for the suggestion.

  • Being a life-long fan of peanut butter and honey combo and a lover of pistachios, I had never thought to mix them with honey as well. I look forward to your efforts so that I can try your version.

    • Ooh, peanut butter and honey, I’ve never tried that! Do you do it as a sandwich, à la PB&J?

      • Emily

        Very similar to PB&J, and even better toasted with sliced bananas.

  • Meghan

    My favourite way to eat peanut butter and honey is on toast for breakfast. The warm bread softens the PB and honey so they swirl together and drip off the toast if you don’t hold it level.

  • Natalie

    Honey with pistachios sounds great…but I’m even more excited that you will be trying (have now tried?) peanut butter and honey on toast for the first time. It is one of the best combos on Earth, in my opinion.

  • lunarossa

    Clotilde, you should make your honey and pistachios concoction using creamed honey. |Creamed honey is nothing more than christalised honey that you whisk it with electric wisk!

  • Emily

    My most recent 3VGT list:

    _ chocolate yogurt from Pequea Valley Farms (Lancaster County, PA, USA)
    _ 2009 Cherry Tree Merlot from Waltz Vineyards
    _ Colby style goat cheese

    … all discovered locally during my husband and my recent ‘mini-moon,’ a perfect opportunity to discover neighborhood treats!

    • Those sound wonderful, and I’m intrigued my the concept of the mini-moon! Care to explain it in a little more detail?

  • I’m a big fan of Julhès, too. Have you ever made it to one of their tasting “salons”?

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