As a honey lover when I heard that an immersive experiential art installation centred around bees and gastronomic honey tasting was coming to London I could not contain my excitement.
The Joy of Bees curated by Bompas & Parr for Relais & Châteaux , an international hotel group (that has a commitment to bees and sustainability) arrived in London in October (2016) and I was delighted to attend the preview night (and to experience the magic and try out some honey inspired food and drinks).
The Joy of Bees is an exhibition and honey tasting presented over four floors of a townhouse in Soho, turned gallery space. The event sold out in record time, confirming the public’s continuing interest in bees and honey. The exciting part for me was the opportunity to taste honey from all over the world and to hear other people share their thoughts on the flavours, aromas and colours.
On arriving there was an observation hive in the entrance surrounded by beautiful curated flowers,providing an enchanting greeting. The next floor was the Hive Mind exhibition, a curated collection of honey and bee related artwork from an international collection of artists. Alongside the artwork, guests were also offered honey based drinks created for the event by mixologist Ariel Saniecki at Relais & Châteaux’s Cliff House Hotel, Ireland (using the honey grown at the Inn at Little Washington (Virginia, US)).
After that came an immersive experience in a room called ‘Pollenesia’, where an entire fragrant garden had been planted indoors, adorned with bee-friendly botanicals such as Echionops Taplow Blue, Peacock Lilac, and Pink Yarrow. The installation contained a performance artist presenting to the audience as “Mellifera”, Queen of Honey. The scent of the flowers was delicious and powerful and the room was alive with the remembrance of nectar.
The Salon of Honey followed, which was a honeycombed haven where you could taste many types of honey under the guidance of honey sommeliers, who connected the terroirs of Relais & Châteaux with the tasting notes of each respective honey (56 of the international hotel group’s properties actually keep bees and they integrate the honey they produce in their food and drink). The honey tasting included the following (many of which I tried, though I sadly didn’t get a chance to taste the honey from Japan as there was so little of it available):
Hostellerie La Cheneaudiere (Colroy-La-Roche, France), Chewton Glen (Hampshire, UK), Adadia Retuerta LeDomaine (Valladolid, Spain), Inn at Little Washington (Virginia, US), Tobira Onsen Myojinkan (Nagano, Japan)
Spicers Peak Lodge (Queensland, Australia), Aeuner Hof (Bolzano, Italy).
The final room was a gastronomic bolt hold of honey inspired foods. After tasting blue cheese mouse with poached pear and honey, honey nougat, garden squash with truffle honey, goats cheese and walnut and macaroons with lavender honey and almonds, it really was time to go home (though I should have headed straight for the gym!).