Chef’s Team Up for Poppy’s Pop-Up Dinners
Chef Andrew Markert, from Beuchert’s Saloon, and pastry chef Jennifer Costa, formerly of Centrolina, recently kicked off Poppy’s Pop-Up, a series of outdoor dinners held in the backyard of a home in the Eckington neighborhood of Northeast D.C.
There are four more dinners planned this summer. Diners don’t know the address until the morning of the dinner and only learn the night’s menu after they’ve arrived. Costa came up with the idea to reflect the “Cali-clean-living lifestyle.” She prepares dessert and a take-home treat and Markert prepares the savory courses. The two have been close friends since they attended Johnson and Wales University together. There will also be guest chefs and mixologists at some of the dinners.
The dinners are named for Costa’s late grandfather, whom everyone called Poppy, and for the state flower of California from where she hails. Each three-course meal has a theme and comes with beverage pairings starting at 7:30 p.m. Each dinner also benefits a different area non-profit. Part of the proceeds of the first pop-up befitted Mary’s Center, a healthcare, education and social services agency in the District.
The first pop-up on June 21 featured wines from Sonoma, Calif., and berries. It featured an amuse of steak tartar, pickled strawberries, vanilla custard and chives on country toast paired with Berries 75 made with 1-8 gin, sparkling wine, berry puree, lavender bitters and citrus. Markerts’ first course included dry-rubbed pork belly and citrus-cured tuna with cucumbers and sour berry jus; roasted baby beet roots with pistachio dust, fennel, smashed berries and sorrel greens; and baby greens with torn basil, spiced cashew dressing, tiny tomatoes and mixed berries paired with Acorn Winery Alegria Vineyards Rosato 2015.
The second course included herb-stuffed leg of lamb, lime powder, basil crumbs and blueberry gastrique; grilled cippolini onion with berry-churri and candied lemon; roasted summer squash and baby corn with basil crema, shiso and roasted strawberries; and sautéed summer mushrooms with salted berry yogurt and crispy onions paired with Viszlay Vineyards Pinot Noir 2013.
For dessert, Costa served Valrhona Opalys white chocolate mousse with lemon chiffon, berries, mint and almond crumble paired with Lago Di Merlo Vineyard Ca’ Bella Moscato. Each diner also received a lemon-blueberry muffin to take home for breakfast the next morning.
The meal is served family style with mismatched plates and silverware at a single row of picnic tables, so you get to know others beside you. At this dinner, there was a transportation lawyer, a regional manager for Valrhona Chocolate, a PR person, a bartender, a Buddhist priest, an energy lawyer and a Methodist minister all bonding over delicious food.
Upcoming dinners, priced at $95 per person inclusive, includes corn on Aug. 11, stonefruit on Aug. 25, tomatoes on Sept. 8 and bubbles and apples on Sept. 22. Seating is limited to 35 diners and will be held under a tent if it rains.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.