My mother, it appears, is on a mission to get Joel – and me as well, really – thoroughly acquainted with the many wonderful places, resources, and activities available in our new stomping grounds.  We are accepting this mission with enthusiasm.  Two thumbs up for exploring the area!  Especially when it means, as it did this last weekend, going on a tour of some local farmer’s markets, farms, and the charming little town of Bayfield, Wisconsin.

My mom picked us up early Saturday morning in her zippy silver Honda.  It wasn’t exactly still dark, but it was early for most people’s version of a Saturday morning, and there was a frigid nip in the air.  We donned hats, and mittens, and puffy coats and piled into the car with Squid in tow.  We met up with a couple of friends at the bottom of the hill (have I mentioned Duluth is built on a hill? – like San Francisco in extra-miniature), and off we went!

Our first stop was the farmer’s market in Port Wing (pop. 406), a tiny affair in the backyard of a church, just across the road from a rustic gas station that also had a fresh and smoked fish counter.  Because, why wouldn’t you buy your fish while you’re getting gas?

The arrival of freezing temperatures over night has shooed away most of the remaining summer produce and ushered in potatoes and winter squash aplenty.  Standing in front of a bench piled with at least a dozen different varieties of gorgeous winter squash, shaped like turbans and onions and gourds, we chatted mostly with one particular farmer whose place we were going to stop by later in the afternoon to pick up lamb, pork, chicken, and pullet eggs, tiny eggs that are mostly yolk.

My mother also bought us sheepskin to put on our office chairs to keep our hindquarters warm in the winter.  It’s something they do in Norway, and it’s a pretty brilliant and practical idea.  (They also bring little sheepskin seats with them on ski trips for setting down on the ground when they stop for a snack or cup of coffee.)  I’m quite excited.  Our chairs are already frigid on the rear.

We made a detour into the harbor to briefly watch the waves crash up along the stone pier, and then we took off for Bayfield.  Bayfield is a sweet specimen of a town, sleepy and quaint-feeling almost in the manner of a New England sea side town.  And flooded with visitors in the summer in the same way as well.  There are cozy bed & breakfasts for staying in and good restaurants for eating at.  From the marina you can take a ferry to Madeleine Island and spend the day biking around and swimming.  Or you can rent kayaks and tour the sea caves (which, technically, I suppose, are lake caves).

In the fall things settle down and clear out considerably, so we had plenty of sidewalk space to ourselves as we wandered about, poking our noses into bookstores and galleries.  We ate fried Lake Superior whitefish livers with local beer for lunch.  And, we stopped to warm up with some excellent lattes.

Duluth, for all its awesomeness, doesn’t have the best independent coffee shops.  In some of them, I’m afraid, asking for a dry cappuccino may get you little but a blank stare.  So, we treasured the roasty, carefully pulled espresso we got in Bayfield.  My mother and both of our friends ordered a drink the cafe called a “honey bee latte.”  I was skeptical, but stole a sip, and was instantly overcome with drink envy.  It was a revelation.

It’s hard to think of a simpler innovation than sweetening a latte with honey.  After all, it’s a mere step away from stirring in a spoonful of sugar (though I guess I don’t really do that either if I’m having a latte).  But, honey, in my mind, has been reserved for tea, and the combination of honey and coffee didn’t sound good at all.

It may not sound good, but I’m here to tell you it tastes wonderful!  The rich, floral sweetness of honey enveloped in steamed milk conjures Mary Poppins and comforting bedtime stories, but then the bitter rush of espresso demands attention and a bit of sophistication.  Besides spiced apple cider, I don’t know that I’ve ever had a drink that felt more perfectly suited to a cold, but brilliant fall day.

The afternoon we spent on farms.  We picked up rosy honeycrisp apples from one with the most lovely view of the orange tinted hillsides.  We visited our friend Bruce and wandered through the fields where he is working with the University of Wisconsin to grow the northernmost wine producing grape.  While Squid played chase with a poodle named Vouvray (and found stinky things to roll in), we tasted grapes from the vines and watched Bruce measure the sugar levels in the fruit.

Our final stop was to fill up our coolers with meat at Morning View farm.  Talk about free range, when we pulled into the driveway, we kept having to stop to avoid running over chickens that were squabbling and scratching all over the place.  They ran about, blithely ignoring us.  A gang of pigs squealed excitedly (a little maniacally, actually) as they rooted about in a large mud patch.

The farmers invited us to walk to a back field, carefully picking our way around cow pies, where we got to meet the calves that had been born in the last few days.  Some were only a day old. They were a hardy northern breed with long, curly black hair that made the calves look as much like bear cubs as they did like cows.  They eyed us curiously, then ran back to get milk from their moms who were standing around munching grass and looking pretty content with the state of affairs.

We drove back home in the steep-angled golden sunlight of early afternoon, carrying enough food to last us a good several months.  The next morning, though, I woke up thinking not about my fresh pullet eggs, but about a honeybee latte.  So, I decided to make one for myself.  Might I gently suggest that you give one a try as well?

Honey Bee Latte (serves 1)

This isn’t really a recipe so much as a concept, so feel free to adjust proportions to your taste.  I have found, though, that the latte turns out better using just a bit more honey than I first expected.  This allows the honey flavor to come through, not just the sweetness.

  • about 1 Tbs. dark amber raw honey (preferably local)
  • a double shot of espresso
  • 6-8 oz. steamed, foamed milk
  • grated nutmeg
  1. Put the honey in the bottom of a mug, and pull or pour the hot espresso over it.  Stir gently to dissolve the honey.
  2. Pour in the steamed milk and milk foam.  I always try to make fancy feather and flower designs when I do this, but it always turns out looking like big plops of foam.  Oh well.  It still tastes good.  Top with a little sprinkling of grated nutmeg.
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28 Responses to Honey Bee latte

  1. Gorgeous farm photos! Hats and mittens? Appears that we live on a different planet. We sweated our brains out on Saturday doing some gardening chores…..90 degrees and counting.

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      Thank you! And seriously, hat and mittens. It was a bit chilly for September, even in these parts. All in all it’s been a weird weather summer and fall.

  2. Brianne says:

    Port Wing has a farmers market?! That is awesome. I was a big fan of the Red Mug cafe in Superior when I lived there, but I’ve never heard of a dry cappuccino 😛

    Also, I am all over this latte sweetened with honey. What a wonderful concept!

  3. Gudrun Witrak says:

    Emily! What a fun blog! I have had honey sweetened lattes and love them! Great recipe for home life if you have an espresso machine. So now, you and Joel must kayak the sea (lake) caves with us. Just off Corney or in the Apostles. It’s one of our favorite things to do. xoxoxo

  4. What a beautiful area you live in. And honey in a latte – why haven’t I thought of that?!

  5. Denise Bussa says:

    Emily, I’m a friend of your mom’s and a neighbor just down the path on RIdgewood. I’ve been following your blog for about a year and enjoy what you have to say about the world as well as the recipes. I only have run-of-the mill honey but added it to my latte this morning and am enjoying the change since I usually drink them plain. You are inspiring! I hope we will meet one day soon.

  6. Peaches says:

    Hi Emily! What a fun travel story It takes your mom to come up with the idea I guess. I’m trying your honey latte this morning. Thanks for being such an inspiration. Guess I’ve forgotten to open my eyes to what’s going on in these great northwoods. See you soon!

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      Truly, I think my mom missed her other calling as a tour guide! She’s a natural. Just ask her for tips. :) See you soon!

  7. i love the chickens and piggies! you’re such a great writer, Emily. this latte is going to need to happen! — maybe at the coffeeshop next-door to my office a little later this morning :)

  8. Jennifer Hellie says:

    Did you buy the smoked fish in Port Wing? It’s incredible! Go back next year for the Fish Boil on Labor Day Weekend… definitely an experience. I stumbled across your blog through your aunt Kathy (we used to work together) and I love it! Welcome back to the midwest :)

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      We didn’t try any of the smoked fish, but next time we’ll have to! And, I’ll mark the Fish Boil on my calendar. How fun!

  9. Oh I looove honey lattes. When I first tried one, a few years ago, the first thought that went through my head was, “What took me so long?!” Beautiful photos!

  10. dribbens says:

    If you ever make it down to Minneapolis, there’s a place called Espresso Expose (on the U of MN campus) that serves a “cafe miel” similar to your honey bee latte. I no longer live there and still make cafe miel for myself, especially when I’m missing Minnesota. They really get the right amount of spice/honey/espresso ratio :)

  11. […] Honey Bee latte (fiveandspice.wordpress.com) 43.652500 -79.381667 Spread the word:TwitterFacebookPinterestLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  12. Chiara says:

    Oh, I LOVE the way you write! And this post! I just found your blog and I have the feeling I will be reading it all!

  13. […] early for sunrise service at a park on the Intracoastal. To follow, a stab at relaxation and a special coffee. If I can ease out from under the cat in our couch cocoon, homemade pasta for the holiday […]

  14. […] is a unique fall drink I found perusing the internet. It comes from Five and Spice and it combines some of my favorite ingredients (a.k.a honey and caffeine). Here’s what you […]

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