by Raisa Aziz, Edible DC photos by Jennifer Chase
There is something sumptuous in the simplicity of Californian food - fresh, seasonal ingredients at their best, with an emphasis on unfussy cooking and natural flavors.
The first dinner in the Poppy’s Pop Ups series from Chefs Jennifer Costa (formerly of Centrolina and Le Diplomat) and Andrew Markert (of Beuchert’s Saloon) was an ode to this California spirit and paid particular homage to the natural bounty of Sonoma County, with a theme of “wine and berries.” Each of the four following dinners will maintain this spirit but focus on a different theme. If A Taste of Sonoma was anything to go by, you can expect a meal in which both meat and vegetables shine, excellent wine pairings and a convivial family-style gathering amongst soon-to-be-friends.
Pastry Chef Costa developed the concept of Poppy’s Pop Ups to honor her late grandfather (whom everyone called Poppy) and works closely with Chef Markert to develop the menu for each meal. Costa prepares the dessert (in this case, a decadent but light white chocolate mousse, lemon chiffon cake with berries, mint and almond crumble) while Markert presents the savory portion of the meal. The family style nature of the dinner lends itself to sharing food and stories with people seated around you. I was quickly released from the anxiety of sharing a meal with strangers as we immediately bonded over the knockout first course (citrus cured tuna and dry rubbed pork belly; roasted baby beets and pistachios, and a green salad with mixed berries and a cashew dressing). Safe to say, Chefs Costa and Markert have successfully created a fine-dining experience (in terms of food and drink) but with the ambience of a garden dinner party with friends.
The subsequent dinners are on August 11th and 25th and September 8th and 22nd, with more information and registration linked here. Each dinner has a charitable component with a portion of the proceeds donated to a local nonprofit.
Raisa Aziz (@raisaaziz) is a food stylist, photographer and writer in the DC Area. When not cooking, baking or eating, you can find her bopping about town in search of local adventures.