In this community, more often than not I find myself in the midst of storytellers—tellers of tales of family businesses, of ingredients rich in history, of core values unwavering in effect.
It’s why this specialty food industry is so special. Generationally passed down recipe boxes and, in the case of Honey Ridge Farms, beekeeping skills have crafted the gourmet company that we see today.
For the family at the Prairie, Washington based farm, which was founded in 2004 by Leeanne Goetz, it’s all about the bees. Her oldest son, Ryan, is fifth-generation beekeeper and worked alongside his grandfather Edmund Varney. Today, Ryan is caretaker to 4000 colonies that pollinate a variety of crops throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California.
So what’s one to expect from a family business, Honey Ridge Farms, who so cares for the hive health and quality of the bees they keep? I’d say award winning honeys—and that’s what I got.
Although they offer a wide selection of honey crèmes and honey-based vinaigrettes, the Balsamic Honey Vinegar truly stole the show for me. It’s a delicious aged balsamic-style vinegar made entirely from honey that adds incredible dimension to the simplest of ingredients... salads especially. It was a 2008 sofi Silver Award Winner for Outstanding Vinegar and most recently, the 2015 Good Food Award Winner.
It has a mellow and delicate sweetness, so I mixed it with some Dijon mustard, olive oil and hazelnut oil for a dressing that I thought would pair perfectly with pears and pecans. Gouda too. I tossed everything very simply in a salad bowl, and the light summer salad married deliciously with my dinner. And because it’s 100 percent honey, the aroma is incredible. Try it for yourself!