Lately I've been buying local honey at the Farmers Market. San Marcos Farms has been a fixture there for many years and produces a number of different single varietal honeys. I plan to sample every one of them. So far I've tried the orange blossom honey (light colored, sweet and mild) and the Santa Barbara Wildflower Honey (amber colored, rich and delicious).
Yesterday, I picked up another jar of this honey and I asked the seller about some of the other varieties (yes, I bought this jar yesterday and it's almost half gone). He said most people like the wildflower honey for baking and desserts because it has a distinct honey flavor. The orange blossom honey is probably too mild for cooking. The sage honey also has a very distinct honey flavor, so I'll have to buy some and compare.
The honey that really intrigued me was the avocado blossom honey. It is very dark and looks almost like molasses. When I asked him what made it so dark, he said it's just the nature of the nectar from the avocado trees. Even though avocado blooms are a creamy off-white, the nectar apparently makes honey that is very dark. He also said the flavor is very rich and complex. Similar to the buckwheat honey found back East, it should be used where you want a very strong distinctive flavor. I'd like to try it in gingerbread or just by itself paired with a blue cheese.
And as I think about all these great local single varietal honeys, I realize that when traveling, I should keep an eye out for honey. I know you can order just about anything from the Internet, but it's nice to have an edible souvenir of a place you've visited... tupelo honey from Georgia, buckwheat honey from upstate New York, macadamia nut honey from Hawaii.
I think my adventures in honey tasting have only just begun.