Appetizers

Make a bee-line to this honey feast

Honey in several flavors and forms will be featured at a special dinner at UC Davis – The Feast: A Celebration of Mead and Honey.
Honey in several flavors and forms will be featured at a special dinner at UC Davis – The Feast: A Celebration of Mead and Honey. National Honey Board

This feast at UC Davis is all the buzz.

Hosted by the Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Food and Wine Science, “The Feast: A Celebration with Mead and Honey” honors pollinators everywhere while mixing a little education with fine cuisine.

To be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, the honey feast features a Mediterranean-Northern African menu created by Ann Evans, author of the “Davis Farmers Market Cookbook” (Mirabelle Press, 2012), and Kathi Riley, caterer and past chef at San Francisco’s Zuni Cafe. It will be served in the foyer of the institute’s Sensory Building on the UC Davis campus.

“It really is a very beautiful space,” said Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center. “The menu will be great, too.”

Tickets are $125 apiece and going fast; deadline to register is Wednesday, Feb. 3. Go to honey.ucdavis.edu for complete details. Proceeds support the honey center’s programs.

This is the third year the center will host a honey-filled feast, but the name was changed for 2016; it formerly was the Mid-winter Beekeepers Feast.

“The name now reflects what it really is – a feast and celebration of honey and mead,” Harris said.

Mead is an ancient wine-like beverage fermented from honey, water and often fruit, spices and other flavorings. Dating back almost 9,000 years, mead is finding renewed popularity along with greater interest in bees and honey.

“People are getting much more aware about honey,” said Harris, who will conduct an optional free honey tasting for guests before the dinner. “People are getting much more adventurous about honey, too. They’re not just satisfied with plain old soupy honey; they want something more interesting.”

Honey spikes every dish on this special menu, but don’t expect to be overwhelmed by sweetness, Harris said. Instead, this showcase highlights how honey works with other flavors to bring out their best. In addition, several distinctly different honeys will be used including avocado, wild buckwheat and coriander.

“Honey enhances whatever it’s served with,” Harris said. “Often you taste the savory long before the sweetness comes through.”

The dinner includes: chicken tagine with couscous and winter vegetables; a three-way avocado salad featuring fresh avocado, avocado oil and avocado honey; carrot-cumin-corander soup shots; cheeses from Cypress Grove served with honeycomb; an array of Mediterranean appetizers; and an almond-olive oil tart served with whole milk ricotta cheese and a drizzle of coriander honey. Several meads will be served along with a signature cocktail for the evening – a Honey Stinger made with ginger mead.

In addition, food and wine expert Darrell Corti will lead a mead flight tasting along with award-winning mead maker Ken Schramm.

“It’s going to be a very exciting evening,” Harris said. “You may learn a lot about honeys and some amazing meads, too.”

Debbie Arrington: 916-321-1075, @debarrington

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