• Oh Honey

    Last June I was fortunate enough to inherit a swarm of bees from a kindly neighbor’s hive. Though the industrious critters worked zealously through the summer and into autumn, it was to my great sorrow to discover the colony’s company steadily dwindling through the months of February and March. While they left behind a full “deep” of drawn comb and capped honey, ultimately, the girls succumbed to a harsh winter, and I found myself hiveless and bereft.

    In the ensuing weeks, I watched with sadness (and at times fervently battled) as a colony of ants endeavored to take up residence in my now empty hive. Fortunately, a local community of bee keepers added me to their waiting list of interested persons hoping to obtain a “nucleus” of bees, dispelling a degree of my despondency. Weeks of waiting affected further discouragement.

    UNTIL… Yesterday evening, when I had made to once again evict the filching formicidae, and was descending to a deeper despair in my apiary pursuits, a solitary bee set down upon my hand. Momentarily distracted from my ineffectual commission, I spoke to her in a low tone, imploring her to enlighten her sisters of this well – appointed domicile. I articulated that, should they consider inhabiting this lovely Langstroth (and evict their colonized cousins currently bivouacking amongst the frames), they’d be well – provided for. The foraging bee (I shall call her Pilar) listened patiently before taking to her wings again, leaving me alone with the damnable ants. It being past the time of preparing for my evening out with the ever – enduring Ms. Clementine Seville, I set about my new task of grooming for our schedule affair. In the midst of making myself presentable, I received a message from my good neighbor informing me that his hive had yet again swarmed and had just deposited itself atop the tree behind his property.

    Hurriedly, I made my way to the site where the swarm had come to rest. Being unfamiliar with this variety of labor, I took my lead from my most capable fellow whose bees we were intent upon extracting. The operation required a “slow and deliberate” pace, he advised, so as not to disturb too greatly, the spherical mass of vibrating bustle. Employing great caution we set about the charge of cutting out the branch where upon the mass had alighted. Ian, being the taller chap, perched himself on that most useful top rung of the ladder (to be exploited only in dire situations such as these), and deftly excised the branch from the tree with several surgical snips, before handing it to me.  “Give it two shakes: one short, one sharp… just over the box of frames there”. After watching him mime the action a few time, I repeated the movement (with no small degree of unease) to an audible fwhump, followed by a substantial cloud of mildly confused, but surprisingly docile bees. Within a few minutes, the animation had lessened itself to a manageable hum and the entire effort was done in less than a quarter of an hour. In the last luminance of the day, we loosely fitted the lid to the top and removed ourselves from the area while the stragglers found their way into their temporary home. Late last night, the Nuc was sealed and transported to my estate, thence placed next to the awaiting hive. This few hours past I carefully transplanted the five full frames into a half – empty “deep”, resting on top of last year’s “deep” with its cache of drawn comb and honey. It’s difficult to discern who is happier at the moment… me, the neighbor from whose tree we removed the swarm, or the roughly 15 thousand bees now residing in the furnished hive. Should this colony of new tenants prove capable, I plan to appropriate a small levy of honey from their efforts to use in my newest vermouth! More news on that subject as the details develop.

  • Spotted

    To the ever enquiring Ms. Adrienne Stillman, we express appreciation for noticing our endeavors last year in that vast ocean of all things boozy and imbibable, know as Tales of the Cocktail. We are extra grateful for the exposure in her most entertaining and informative editorial Spirit Spotlight on the Dipsology Webpage. It is a “curated guide to New York City’s most noteworthy cocktail destinations” and dedicated to “the study of quality drink experiences as they relate to cocktails.”

    Have a glimpse at her words here:

  • Cilantro: Soap or Savory?

    No doubt amongst the most polarizing of herbs, Cilantro seems to illicit uniquely fervent rejoinders in regard to its character and quality. Admittedly, once I counted myself among the ranks of individuals whose assessment of the herbaceous plant as a culinary component, was to jibe “Ghastly Shrub… it lends the impression of soap!” That is because masticating the raw herb awarded the offender the unpleasant sensation of having one’s mouth washed out with soap (such as on the occasion one’s GranGran caught one using colorful language reserved for rugged workmen and sturdy seafaring fellows). Widely believed to be the result of a genetic temperament, those of us afflicted with such unfortunate response had little incentive to join those who seem to be born with a fondness for the flavor experience and add it to all our foods. Quite so… Why put forth the effort to adapt to such sensation if a body is predisposed to affront?

    Time passed, as it inevitably does, and my exposure to this herb did not abate. However as my ingestive experiences increased, and I encountered cilantro repeatedly, my aversion to it slowly shifted to a passive indifference. I was able to consume all manner of dishes seasoned with fresh cilantro, and not feel as if my palate was under siege. Within a few years, my sense of flavor continued to evolve to the point where I now crave Cilantro and will take it on its own, by the bunch. In fact, it has become the customary companion to the cured meats and salted quicos Ms. Seville and I have made a habit of enjoying with a splash of dry sherry upon finishing the work day. I would even go so far as to suggest that Cilantro is an ideal flavor enhancer – an herbal MSG of sorts. Its aroma refreshes the very air you breathe, and its pleasant piquancy summarily prepares the palate for the nightly repast. Truly, it’s an utterly civilized way to wind down work and submerse oneself into leisurely ease. If you have reservations regarding the degree of its palate purifying properties, I would encourage you to chew a few sprigs, stem and all, or use as a garnish in your vermouth or sangria. Make a nightly practice of it for a week or two and see if your palate doesn’t evolve to a similar state of delectation.

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