Take the honey and run
Wed Jun 25 2008
Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello
Remember when you thought you were oh-so-sophisticated because you’d discovered Nutella, the European cocoa-and-hazelnut answer to American peanut butter? Well, we do, but we can now say that we’ve officially outgrown that phase, thanks to these two hazelnut-fueled addictions, also from overseas. In these jars, honey takes the place of chocolate. From Provence, France, comes Avelline ($14.25), a praline-like spread of crushed hazelnuts and mountain honey from the artisan producers Lo Brusc. Olanhas e Mèl ($17.25), meanwhile, is a jar of plump hazelnuts suspended in organic Acacia honey from the Alpine section of Piedmont, Italy, a region known for its superior hazelnuts. Though the two products are made by third-generation apiculturists from identical ingredients (native nuts and unpasteurized, unstrained honey), the results are radically different. The sticky paste that is Avelline recalls a nutty dulce de leche—we like it on a toasted baguette—while the Italian honey is a delicacy of another order, with hazelnuts that are preternaturally meaty and crisp. We’d eat this one on its own, or with salty goat cheese. Both are available at Formaggio Essex (120 Essex St at Delancey St, 212-982-8200), their exclusive U.S. importer. The jars are so precious—with labels that look hand-drawn—that you might not want to open them, but you should. Really. Go nuts.