Stop. Collaborate. And Listen.

We are very fortunate to live in an amazing community.  From the unique and creative goods to the wonderful and heartfelt causes, our community is full of people that strive to make a difference. In an effort to showcase the people that make our community great we have begun a series called Community Collaborations. Each month we will feature a business and create a mead with their help.

This month we start off our Community Collaborations Series with a double whammy.  This month we were honored to make a mead for the Syrian Solidarity Dinner hosted at the home of Jarrod Dixon, owner and chef at J&D Catering, and organized by Lacey McLaughlin, owner of Idea Dinners.

Solidarity Dinners bring together community members in support of special causes.  People gather around the table and discuss a variety of topics over expertly prepared food and drink. I have been to several events hosted by Lacey and enjoyed several meals by Jarrod including the amazing meal he prepared for my wedding. Needless to say I was really excited to see what would happen when the two of them collaborated. When I approached them about making a mead for the dinner and making them part of our first Community Collaboration they were both open to the idea.  That's when my research on Syrian cuisine began.

Nestled in the heart of the Middle East, Syrian cuisine has been strongly influenced by its neighbors. Turkish and Lebanese cuisines are strongly recognizable in the flavors of Syria. Yogurt, chick peas, olives, garlic, lemon, eggplant and fresh herbs such as parsley and mint all play a central role. The national dish of Syria is kibbeh, a deep-fried, torpedo-shaped croquette usually filled with minced lamb or beef.  Meat and spices play a huge role in the flavors of Syrian, particularly those used in the spice mixes za’atar and baharat. Syrian dishes are created to be shared and enjoyed as part of a big group. Syrian cuisine is simple, delicious and social. This sounded perfect for the purpose of this dinner!  Now I had to come up with the flavor profile for our mead.

For our first Community Collaboration I resisted the urge to explore some of the more unique flavors available to me.  We had a group of people coming that I did not know so we opted for a slightly more reserved route and opted for an Apricot mead. Syria is well known for their dried fruits, in particular apricots. One special apricot drink is Amar-el-Deen.  This is a sweet drink made from soaking sheets of dried apricots overnight and making it into a sweet nectar.  Rosewater is often mixed in but instead of rosewater we opted to feature another Syrian spice, cardamom.  Cardamom was already being featured in some of the food so it felt more appropriate for this dinner.  We created a cardamom syrup using date palm sugar which is much less sweet than honey or sugar and has an amazing earthy aroma.  We added that and our lovely apricot nectar to our wildflower honey mead and the resulting mead is mighty tasty, if I do say so myself!

Our dinner started out with a creamy hummus, simply prepared with lemon and served with dates, olives, and warm pita. Course number 2 was a fresh salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh figs.  I could have eaten a couple more plates of this. It was so simple and so perfect.

I was a bit leery of the soup course.  I'm not a huge fan of lentils and we had a curry lentil soup heading our way.  I will have to give lentils anther chance because the soup was hearty and delicious and had all the makings of comfort food!

And all those amazing dishes brought us to the main course, a slow braised leg of lamb and couscous. We had been looking forward to this course all night and I don't think anyone was disappointed.  The lamb was spiced with a blend of Syrian and Mediterranean spices and just fell off the bone.  The highly aromatic leg of lamb was tender enough to cut with a fork and was served on a bed of couscous with warm pita.

How tasty does that look!?!

Jarrod at J&D Catering and Lacey with Idea Dinners out did themselves putting together this dinner and we are honored to be able to create a mead to complement such an amazing meal.

Here's a toast to good friends, good food, and the table that brings them together.

100 percent of all funds raised by this dinner will be donated to Global Giving's campaign to provide emergency assistance for children fleeing Syria. Global Giving has been ranked as a four-star charity by Charity Navigator. 

Want to try our Syrian inspired mead?  RU Syria Us is on draft for a limited time in the tasting room. One dollar from each glass will be donated to Global Giving.  If you would like to make an additional donation please send your donation via paypal to laceyemc@yahoo.com or to Lacey McLaughlin via venmo. Cash donations will also be accepted in the tasting room while RU Syria Us is available.