San Francisco is Abuzz!

Are you familiar with Colony Collapse Disorder?

No, it’s not a term derived from Game of Thrones, nor is it derived from chicken pox; it’s a real and very scary phenomenon that swept through the country five years ago and even became easily known by its own acronym, C.C.D., explaining the mass disappearance of our beloved honeybees who began dropping like another less attractive flying insect without rhyme or reason. Our namesake seemed to vanish unexplainably, leaving a serious threat to our food systems in its wake. For as the bee pollinates the flower, crop, and orchard, it becomes, as many have named it, the “angel of agriculture,” ensuring the survival of our produce.

A throng of concerned urbanites stepped forward with their campaign to save the honeybees, most interested in local and organic food, inspired by the greening movement that sprang forth during the same time as C.C.D., and committed to preserving our future food systems through developing urban beehives.

Yes, there could be one in your neighbor’s backyard. Beehives have sprouted up throughout the bay area, nurtured by the temperate climate, plants that constantly flower throughout the year, and dedicated beekeepers. Interestingly, San Francisco health codes don’t consider bees wild and dangerous animals to be barred from city limits, and there are no regulations on beekeeping. This has encouraged many to take up the trade and install apiaries in their backyards. So while urban sprawl may be one of the factors to blame for the demise of the honeybee – to produce a pound of honey, bees travel about 55,000 miles, and visit some 2 million flowers! Imagine how our concrete metropolis has thwarted their efforts to find enough flowers to pollinate – at least we may now aid in the honeybee effort by making them members of our city.

As our namesake implies, we at Salt & Honey have a particular affinity for the sweet nectar-producing workers. We love making honey infusions such as truffle honey, vinaigrettes and sweet balsamic chicken. We even use some of the honey produced by our local bees, purchased at places such as Marshall’s Farm at the Ferry Building and  Her Majesty’s Secret Beekeeper in the Mission (they also provide classes on starting your own colony).

Here’s some of the ways you can enjoy local honey by using our favorite recipes:

White Balsamic and Honey Vinaigrette

This is our go-to house salad dressing. We find that it goes great with everything! We like to jazz it up by substituting in flavored and infused vinegars, like white peach balsamic, to put a twist on the classic.

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup good olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons quality local honey
2 teaspoons grainy dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sized mixing bowl mix honey, mustard and balsamic vinegar. Slowly whisk in olive oil until emulsified with honey mixture, it should be a little on the thick side. Add salt and pepper taste. If you want a thinner or sweeter vinaigrette add more vinegar or honey until it is at the taste and consistency you prefer. Will keep, refrigerated, for up to one week. If vinaigrette separates (it usually does), just give it a good whisk or shake.

Truffle Honey

We love to infuse things at the kitchen and one of things we love most is when two of our favorite ingredients can come together. I use this for a special treat breakfast on toast with a hard cooked egg, drizzled over your favorite bleu cheese for contrast on a cheese platter, or over a scoop of Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream for a sweet and savory treat. You will definitely find ways to bring this seemingly extravagant staple into every day simple meals.

5-6 black truffles
1 quart good local honey

Take one clean quart sized mason jar with lid and drop 2-3 truffles into the bottom of the jar. Fill jar ¾ way with honey. Drop the remainder truffles into the jar and fill the jar to the top with the remainder of the honey. Seal tightly with lid and store in a cool, dry place for 1-2 months. Every week be sure to check in on your infusion and give it a little shake/stir to keep things moving about. Will keep for up to one year, in a cool, dry place.

Honey Balsamic Chicken

I love do ahead meals. This is a great example of one. Easy marinade, 24hr hang out period, coupled with a quick roast, makes this a perfect weeknight supper. Served with sauteed greens beans, a big green salad, and roasted garlic mashed potatoes and your family will ask this sweet and spicy chicken to become a regular fixture at the dinner table!

6-8 bone in chicken thighs
1 cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup good quality local honey
½ cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
10 garlic cloves smashed in peel
5 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Place chicken in a gallon sized freezer bag. In a large bowl combine honey, sugar, soy sauce, red pepper flake, ground black pepper, and vinegar and mix until sugar and honey are dissolved. Pour mixture over chicken. Add garlic, thyme and rosemary sprigs. Seal freezer bag and shake to incorporate herbs and garlic. Refrigerate for up to 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Place a baking rack on a foil-lined baking sheet and put chicken on top. Bake chicken for 30-35 minutes, until the skin is caramelized and dark in spots.

In a saucepan, pour marinade and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes or until reduced by half and thickened. Reserve.

When chicken is cooling, brush with warm marinade with a pastry brush. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

There are swarms (yes, intentional pun) of associations dedicated to providing resources and networks for bay area beekeepers. For information and resources to start your very own aviary, visit:

San Francisco Beekeepers’ Association (SFBA)
Alameda County Beekeepers
Marin County Beekeepers
Beekeepers Guild of San Mateo
Mount Diablo Beekeepers Association
Santa Clara Valley Beekeepers Guild