Friday, February 3, 2012

The Heart of the Honey

On Thursday, 2nd of February, Upstairs on the Square collaborated with Follow the Honey to create a four course dinner inspired by the incredibly versatile condiment. When one first thinks about a 'Honey dinner', one might be inclined to think it would be an overly sweet experience...I myself was a bit curious as to how it would all play out. I can tell you right off the bat however, that this dinner, put together by Chef Susan Regis and Mary Canning (owner of Follow the Honey), was exquisite, using different species of honey to bring about attributes and flavors in each dish.

Before we delve into the different courses, (featured in the menu above), let me just comment briefly on the novelty of the evening for me.  For one thing, it was my first time at Upstairs on the Square, (embarassing...I know!) and for another, well, it would be my first time really exploring the culinary versatily to be found 'honey'.

As soon as I walked into the place, I knew it was something quite different. I would probably best describe it as walking into Alice's Wonderland - there are fun and quirky decorations coming out of the walls, warped mirrors here and there, and the colours are just fantastic! It gives everything a very whimsical feel - once you step in here, Harvard Square falls into thin air - you are transported! 

 The meal, which began with some Mead and a trio of cheeses with different accompanying honeys, was on the third floor and was arranged in group tables. My friend and I were at a table with a young couple who actually keep two bee hives (another first for me!) and some recently retired high school teachers. I always love meals of this kind, you get to meet and connect with some very interesting people!
The first course, pictured above, was a Popover with Organic White Volcano Honey, a light mix of greens, sliced radish and a roasted chestnut.  The cheese trio had already got my taste buds going and this dish continued the trend. The crispy popover was light and warm, and in the middle (very like a volcano:) ), there was a pool of warm volcano honey. The two came together in holy matrimony. I was enthralled! 

 The next dish was probably the highlight for me, and my friend, a huge fan of anything containing pork belly, agrees. This dish combined two of my favorite things: scallops and pork belly. The P Town Scallops were Honeycomb topped and amidst a Green River ambrosia mead.  The different tastes and textures in this dish were a salute to the cunning of using two different kinds of honey. The pork belly itself was probably some of the best I have had. The top was perfectly crispy, the belly was almost liquid it melted so readily in your mouth and the meaty part was tender and sweet. I could have had five of these dishes no problem.

 The main course was a duo of Clementine Dusted Duckling. It was served atop a huge and juicy caramelized endive and honey dragee almonds. It came with a honeyed brioche filled with soft, sweet honey butter. This dish was very nicely compiled (even though I did not manage to get a good picture...), the duck was well cooked and the reduction was not too sweet. I reveled in the honey dragee almonds which added a surprising crunch. My favorite part of this dish however was the endive, which was bursting with flavor.  

To finish everything off, Chef Regis was very clever to end with a Panna Cotta - which is Italian for 'cooked cream'. It would have been a mistake to make something too sweet, but this White Gold Panna Cotta was refreshingly creamy, topped with a perfect crunch from honey caramel corn and a spicy peanut mix.
The whole meal was sublime. It was all tied together at the end with a little honey caramel truffle.
My only reservation was with regards to the wine and cocktail pairing. Apart from the very first pairing - the Bee's Knees - a cocktail with Gin, Honey and Lemon, all the others fell a little flat. It was most likely because the meals themselves were so outstanding.
All in all though, this adventure was very special.  Mary, owner of Follow the Honey has a fantastic approach to her passion. Just with the opening of Follow the Honey, she has already gotten people thinking differently about an ingredient many just think of as a sweetener for tea. With this new found partnership, Mary and Susan have begun to pave the way towards a very sweet, but very substantial future:)
I also can't wait to go back to Upstairs on the Square for some of their fun Events:)


  1. Inave never been to Upstairs either!iknow, bad Bostonian!

  2. "Young couple" ha, thanks!

    It was nice to meet you. And if you are interested, I have some beekeeping notes and pictures up at

  3. It is SO worth the trip!
    I really want to try their Afternoon Tea:)

  4. Nice pictures, Rachel!!! Really wish I were there to eat the stuff! Congrats!!!

  5. It was such an amazing meal! You must try out both Upstairs on the Square and Follow the Honey!

  6. Rachel, you rocketh the hive mind ~ thanks tons for the sweet reportage. We are already conspiring a repeat Follow The Honey to Upstairs on the Square discovery come Spring/Summer!

  7. Excellent! I hope I can make a repeat appearance:)

  8. ohh Rachel that looks FABULOUS!!! We need another dinner date (or brunch!!) soon!!!