Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Sweet Affair: Savoring Quebec's Kosher Honeys

A Tour of Intermiel, Quebec's Winning Honey Farm


T
radition, "the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation" (Wikipedia) brings meaning and beauty into our lives. At the core resides teachings- Torah, Jewish law- Halacha, family tales, love, goodness- Mitzvoth, history, secularism, memories etc.. The reasons why one embraces tradition is individual, but it often seems like customs are easily taken for granted. Sadly, witnessing the way our current Quebec government seeks to eliminate diversity and religious symbols while challenging the essence and identity of different faiths (Multiculturalism) is like a bullet shooting straight at our value system, a deplorable and regressive approach, as much as a disgrace. To further understand the current Quebec regime, read: Ban on TurbansProposed Charter of Quebec Values, PQ Government must Define Secularism, Banning Religious Symbols, CTV Coverage.

The dipping of the apple in the honey symbolizes  a sweet new year.
 Pictured on the top right is a honeycomb and 2 favorite whipped \ creamy honeys,
Wild Flower and Clover, perfect for spreads.

All persons ought to endeavor to follow what is right, and not 
what is established.” – Aristotle

Some traditions call for sweetness by giving Valentine's day chocolates to a loved one, exchanging a kiss under a mistletoe, savoring traditional Mexican Suji cookies or French drajés at weddings; some Jewish traditions involve fasting for a day, tasting karoub or pomegranates, enjoying Moroccan couscous feasts and rejoicing over Matzah.  Holidays and food result into hundreds of traditions originating from both secularism or Halacha. In an ideal society, we feel secure and positive enough to understand the importance of multicultural values, we recognize them and respect them from a legislative standpoint and perhaps even appreciate them as part of mainstream culture... which is usually the case; but legal limitations on religious ways are currently being imposed, not sure how this will impact Jewish food culture for now, the pressure is on government  officials and public sector workers wearing visibly religious garments.


Ever since I was a little girl, every Rosh Hashanah I was taught to dip the apple in the honey as a Siman (Hebrew for sign) for a sweet new year. As simplistic as this sounds, there is deeper meaning as to why honey and why apples; for thousands of years, ancestors have partaken in this ritual.

As a mother, it is my turn to instill in my children the joys of Jewish living by teaching them New Year customs, even if this means 'going the extra mile'. For the first time ever, I had the privilege of taking my eldest daughter to Intermiel,  an award winning Quebec honey farm based in Saint-Benoît (Mirabel), 30 to 40 minutes from Montreal.

INTERMIEL'S HISTORY

Natives of France, teachers Viviane and Christian Macle, settled in Québec in 1969. In the 80s, they officially launched a line of honey. Today, Intermiel is a large-scale farm that manages the production of 5,000 beehives, runs a 15,000 tap sugar bush and a 600 apple tree orchard. Intermiel is recognized provincially and across North America for the quality and diversity of its products, as well as for its educational visits. Thanks to its agri-tourism orientation, it attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year, of which 15,000 are students from Québec schools. (Reference: http://www.intermiel.com/history/)


A Honey Palette ideal for a Rosh Hashanah  honey tasting party
There are over 6 raw honeys, 2 honey combs  and 3 creamy honeys to chose from at Intermiel, aside from non-kosher ganaches, ciders and other products. My favorite honeys are Clover and Creamy Wild Flower. The ideal Rosh Hashanah honey is Apple Blossom. The best honey's for honey cakes are Wild Flower, Golden Orchard and Clover.
  • Buckwheat honey (It has a very pronounced taste)
  • Wild Flower and Creamy wild Flower  (A favorite)
  • Pine honeydew (Distinctive taste - not everyone would like this one)
  • Clover honey (A classic)
  • Creamy Clover (A great spread)
  • Fruity and blossom honeys (Delightful, with a fruity twist)
    • Apple Orchard (Perfect for Rosh Hashanah)
    • Golden Orchard (Perfect for Rosh Hashanah) 
    • Creamy Golden Orchard  (Perfect for Rosh Hashanah)
    • Raspberry blossom 
    • And Blueberry blossom 

INTERMIEL'S HONEY FARM TOUR

Touring the honey farm and buying your raw honey before the holiday contributes to a more festive mood. For $8 a person, one gets:
  • A comprehensive tour of the honey farm that starts off with a presentation on the accolades and brief historic of the farm
  • To see first-hand honey extraction from a beehive
  • Understand how different flavored honeys are made
  • Learn about the different honey-based products 
  • And importantly, taste over 10 kinds of MK certified kosher honeys 

ABOUT THE BOUTIQUE

There is a wall of 1 kg jars, another wall of 8 kg bins, a section of honey based beeswax candles and beauty products, a counter of gift-packed honeys as well as non-kosher maple syrops, ganaches and artisan beverages (off limits for the kosher clan).

HONEY JAR PRICES


QUANTITY
PRICE RANGE
125 g
$2.5 to $4.00
500 g
1 kg
$5.50
$8.00 to $9.50
8 kg
$20.00 to $24.00


The agriculturist is doing a demo extraction of honey. A little boy is fascinated.

A Chassidish family is seeing how honey is extracted from the beehive.


From honey soaps, lip balms, beeswax candles to a wall filled with different formats and honey flavors, it is truly amazing to see what can originate from one of the worlds purest ingredients.  8 kg honey buckets cost between $20 to $24 dollars. You can also do refills when you bring in your bucket.

Honey tasting is a popular activity.
Honey jars can be bought in 1 kg jars or in gift packages.

Intermiel also has a beautiful ranch, playground and farm for kids to enjoy. At the end of the tour,
the kids can play and have fun.


On my way back home, I stopped off at Verger du Ruisseau to buy my holiday apples.
My daughter posing and me in the corner wearing a sodial bee hat veil.

Amid the current provincial anti-religious uproar, I am hoping that this little blog of mine can somehow enlighten Parti Quebecois leaders. A Charter of Values that acknowledges the diversity of all its citizen, is to be fostered, otherwise a divide will further be accentuated. In the meantime, the joys of Quebec Jewish living are beautiful  and makes me feel grateful to live  in such a province. My honey farm visit is a new-found Rosh Hashanah ritual that adds depth and creativity to my holiday entertaining. Thank you InterMiel!

Shanah Tovah U'metukah to all!