Nothing like gathering around delicious food to share a good moment with friends. To spread that warm Lebanese spirit, The Good Thymes has chosen a key ingredient of our culture, wild thyme.
Zaatar is the specialty Fady Aziz decided to take a chance on. After years of experience in branding and design, and heading the design department at marketing firm Quantum Communications, he chose to apply his knowledge to a new project close to his heart. Originally from Kfarhouné in South Lebanon, as a kid he spent his holidays at the village playing around with his friends in an empty field on which an old farm had been built and abandoned forty years ago. Years later Fady realized he was still dreaming of that green escape from his childhood and wanted to do something about it. A nature lover and a gourmet, he thought of zaatar, a local specialty, which he enjoys every morning at the breakfast table with his wife and children. He delved into the secrets of wild thyme cultivation. During his search, he met two professionals who had been in charge of revitalizing the cultivation of wild thyme after the withdrawal of the Israeli army from South Lebanon. The two men had set up logistics and professional training for farmers. They shared their knowledge with Fady who then created his modern concept around a traditional ingredient. A few kilometers away from green fields, an atelier was setup to welcome visitors for tastings or to observe the team mixing wild thyme with other ingredients to create inventive recipes for zaatar, which are then packaged and shipped worldwide or to grocery shops across Lebanon.
The Good Thymes experiments with recipes around zaatar, such as the nutty mix with almond, cashews and peanut flakes, the fruity mix with apricots, figs and cranberry or the oriental mix with pistachio, cumin, fennel and pumpkin seeds. Ingredients such as the tomatoes used in the spicy Hot Mix or the goat cheese kechek prepared by Fady’s neighbor and used for the Kfarhouné mix are bought from local farmers. To fine tune recipes, the entrepreneur sat down with his cousin, a chef, his friend, owner of a sandwich chain, and another cousin whose cooked meals are sought after by all the neighbors in the village. In synch with the convivial spirit of The Good Thymes, Fady’s friends gather to test new creations such as an unusual mix of wild thyme with chocolate concocted in the atelier. Ingredients are fresh natural and without preservatives to maintain the aromas of each product. Fady uses a traditional grinding technique selecting only the leaves and flowers and keeping the stems away rather than a mill which would automatically grind all parts with no distinction and let the flowers, rich in taste, get lost. New recipes are created according to seasonal ingredients and in his recipe book Fady writes down endless possibilities to revisit wild thyme.
The farm welcomes visitors during harvest days, for mornings in the field followed by a bucolic meal, and lunches and receptions are held near the atelier, among trees and fresh aromatic herbs.
Article originally published in L’Officiel Levant, November 2017 Issue