In the early 90s, Ihsan and Valerie were invited by one of our customers to stay at a lovely château in Provence while on a food sourcing trip. Located near the town of Abt, about halfway between Toulouse and the Atlantic Ocean, the surroundings were picturesque and, as Ihsan recalls, “breathtaking.” The villa served as a wonderful base from which to explore the region and led to some of Ihsan and Valerie’s earliest finds – ones that have stood the test of time – like Durand chocolates and miellerie: Lo Brusc.
Generally, the terrain in Provence is pretty flat with a few gorges here and there. However, as you move further east, you get closer and closer to the Alps. The Lo Brusc shop is located in Saorge, France, in Haute-Provence, close to the French/Italian border. The day they visited Saorge for the first time, Ihsan recalls the approach as, “a series of hair-pin turns up what appeared to be a mountain with a mesa-like top.” The very old town was situated at the top and Lo Brusc was positioned at the beginning of a tiny little side street – a wooden sign with a bee hive on it was dangling out front.
During their visit, Ihsan and Valerie met Brigitte – Pierre, her husband was out tending to the hives. They had lunch and sampled honeys. This was Ihsan and Valerie’s first introduction to monovarietal honey. Monovarietal or single varietal honeys – where the bees are harvesting predominantly one type of blossom – are more common nowadays but twenty years ago, they were quite rare. It was certainly the first time that either Ihsan or Valerie had encountered the likes of tilleul (linden blossom), romarin (rosemary) and, in particular, lavande fine (wild lavender) honey. They were blown away.
Today, even though there are more single varietal honeys available from small apiaries, there are just a few who have the know-how to time their harvest perfectly to maximize the purity of the varietal type. From our very first meeting, Lo Brusc set the standard and today remains at the fore in terms of both flavor and quality. Now, Brigitte and Pierre’s son, Jean, manages the family’s apiaries while his sister Estelle manages their shop.
Our honey buyer, Julia, who works with apiaries across the United States and in Europe – including the Bresc family – succinctly states how we feel about their honey: “I love Lo Brusc because of the distinct flavors and textures in each of their honeys. Every year, the harvest brings new and unique flavors. What is so lovely about Lo Brusc is that the selection of flavor profiles that their honey offer ranges from super subtle and delicate to bitter, funky and pungent. Their honey is true to the flower source and I always turn to Lo Brusc as the example for what a particular single source honey should taste like. Lo Brusc is a beautiful representation of how diverse single varietal honey can be.”
We couldn’t agree more.