It’s worth running the gauntlet of excess baggage charges to take home a bottle of La Gomera’s palm honey, in fact, it’s worth taking home two because I can almost guarantee that it won’t stay in the kitchen cupboard for long.
Brewed from Guarapo, the sap of the Gomeran Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis), Miel de Palma is 100% pure with no added ingredients, has the consistency and colour of treacle and tastes like liquid toffee with smoky overtones. In short, it’s heaven in a bottle.
On La Gomera the Guarapo is collected from the base of the youngest leaves at the top of the palm tree in the early morning before the heat of the day kicks in, a precarious task to say the least. It’s then cleaned and filtered to remove any impurities and in order to prevent it beginning to ferment, is distilled the same day it is collected. Distillation takes several hours over a slow fire at a constant temperature and the mixture has to be monitored constantly to remove scum as it forms and to prevent it from boiling too quickly. It takes on average eight litres of Guarapo to produce one litre of Miel de Palma.
Rich in mineral content, palm honey is that rarest of foods, healthy and delicious, although I cannot vouch for its calorific content as it doesn’t tell me on the bottle. Still, all things in moderation.
In culinary terms, a drizzle of honey over goat’s cheese is a popular and delicious tapa in the Canary Islands. Added to salad dressings it gives a smoky, sweet flavour which lifts any ingredients and a spoonful in Greek yoghurt or poured over ice cream creates an instant hit on the dessert menu. As a sauce reduction it goes beautifully with fish like sole or salmon and with any meat who’s flavour is strong enough to marry the sweetness – rabbit or duck are perfect partners.
You will find Miel de Palma on sale in shops and supermarkets throughout the Canary Islands and you can buy Guarapo online and use it in much the same way as Miel de Palma. It has a sweet and very distinctive taste and is high in minerals.
Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+