Natural, Fragrant, and Sweet as Lebanese Honey
Call me crazy, but I find that the most inspiring people nurture passions totally removed from their day jobs. Donald Trump is one contemporary example. The man is a real estate tycoon, and apart from having become an outspoken television personality thanks to his decade-long NBC stint at “The Apprentice,” he’s now seriously contending for the role of US president.
Many bloggers write and do so prolifically, simply as a creative hobby. For most, blogging is not a full-time occupation that fetches a salary. It’s a labor of love.
Then there are the nose-to-grindstone entrepreneurs, the ones who have taken a riveting pet project and transformed it into a tangible consumable, a byproduct to benefit society and enrich the way in which we live.
Case in point: Marc-Antoine Bou Nassif is a successful architect at the helm of his own firm, 1000 Years Old. Together with his brother Ralph, a business consultant, and their friend Rabih Traboulsi, an engineer, the trio founded L’Atelier du Miel (“The Honey Shop”). Passionate about rekindling the affinity between man and nature, they aspire to introduce Lebanon to locally-produced artisanal honey that is totally pesticide- and antibiotic-free.
|Pesticide- and antibiotic-free honey|
|You can suck on honeycomb for a sweet rush of gushing honey|
How exactly does it work? Nearly 1,000 beehives are moved throughout the year to follow flower-blossoming seasons. This way, the bees feed only on the nectar of flowers and honeydew of trees. In the space of 12 months, beehives rotate through the cedars in the Barouk; oak trees in Keserwen; Medlar trees in Sidon; orange trees in Tyre and Akkar; cherry trees in Zahle; peach and apricot trees in Rechmaya; Hawthorn and wildflowers in Kab Elias; and thorns in Ain Dara.
Who participates in the grunt labor? The very three founders are trained beekeepers who shadowed local producers and attended professional workshops in France. Of course, with over 1,000 beehives to tend to, they cannot go at it alone, so they employ fresh graduates in agriculture to assist with extracting the honeycomb frames.
|Marc-Antoine Bou Nassif demonstrates how honey is extracted from a honeycomb frame|
The result? Over 20 tons of honey are produced annually, with a product line of 30 local and imported honeys and honey jams. The shop in Tabaris, Achrafieh, modeled after a veritable honeycomb, also sells sweet treats including pain d’epices (gingerbread), marrons glacés (candied chestnut), pastilles (honey drops), chocolate-chip cookies, madeleines, and nougat.
|L'Atelier du Miel sells 30 different varieties of honey|
|Products also comprise honey jams and other goodies|
|Chocolate-chip cookies made with honey rather than cane sugar|
The founders of L’Atelier du Miel aim to convince the Lebanese that honey is an essential part of the daily diet. Natural honey contains sugars already digested by bees, and they are thus easily absorbed by the human body. By contrast, industrial sugar derived from beetroot or cane has zero benefit. Honey also helps preserve the natural flavors of fruits in jams.
|Goat labneh drizzled with honey on a slice of wholewheat baguette|
|Fig tartlets with goat cheese and honey|
Products, tasting tips, and their specific benefits are detailed elaborately on L’Atelier du Miel’s website. For those interested in exploring the extensive variety of honey on offer, peek in at the boutique store, and you might just bump into Marc-Antoine. If you do, you’re in for some sweet discussion.
+961 1 322 064