Soft white linens over long wooden tables, sturdy wicker chairs, and soft candles creating shadows against a simple clear vase with white tulips and purple daisies. Sound like heaven? It most certainly was; in food fashion. June 8th, 2014 marked Union Market’s third annual Sunday Supper; a night where guests arrive to create simple bonds over a delicious three-course meal.
The excitement was impenetrable as soon as guests began arriving at Union Market; everyone adorned in their Sunday best and ready to experience culinary delight! Welcomed with refreshing drinks such as blueberry ice tea by servers in white suit jackets, black pants and sage ties to match the place setting napkins was a beautiful indicator of what the night had in store. Drink in hand, the experience began; an hour of mingling coupled with walked around hors d’oeuvres like goat cheese and strawberry jelly atop a crispy crostini as well as chicken and pork sausage bites was a pleasant precursor to the dinner portion. There were also stations that draped the front of the dock; fresh clams on ice, whisky and bourbon, and a wine station.
Each guest was given a table number, so once called to be seated any pressure to choose a table was alleviated. Each chair was festooned with a different cookbook for guests to take home and create new dishes and concepts. Everyone took their seats and listened to the evenings mistress of ceremonies introduce special guests as well as share encouraging remarks.
And the feast began! First course was from Chef John Mooney of Bidwell; Lamb Sausage, Apricot & Long Hots Pepper and Milk Stout Mustart. Other offerings were from Jose Garces of Garces Group; Borrones, Wood Grilled Red Peppers, Whipped Eggplant, Marinated Anchovies and Focaccia.
Course two was from Chef Art Smith of Art and Soul; Broiled Snapper, Woodlands Pork Mountain Ham, Peas, Favas, Radishes and Curry Oil. Chef Jeremiah Langhorne formerly of McCrady’s brought the second half in course two; Chesapeake Shellfish, Charred Sinner Squash, Pickled Garlic Scapes, Heirloom Tomatoes and VA Bay Sauce.
The third and final course was from Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen; Fried Chicken, Extra Crispy, and Pepper-Honey Glazed Fish with Pickles and Biscuits. Chef Nick Stefanelli of Bibiana also brought offerings to finish off the final course; Ember Roasted Beef Short Rib and Strip Loin, Bone Marrow, Charred Spring Onion, and Seasonal Tapanades.
The fare was served family style with servers removing plates from each guest after each course was completed as well as continuously refilling water glasses. A delicious surprise was a Tuscan Kale Salad from the James Beard Foundation’s award-winning cookbook that was flavored with parmesan cheese, olive oil and a refreshing taste of freshly squeezed lemon juice. The salad was a smashing hit at the table, leaving guests wanting more. With red and white wines always near on each table, the libations continued throughout each course into dessert.
After the feast, Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation shared a few words as well as introduced the evening’s line up of chefs responsible for all of the blissful and contented faces. After the flashes of the cameras died down, and applause dissipated, it was time for some more mingling, coffee and dessert. Decadent sweets from Robb Duncan of Dolcezza, Santosh Tiptur of Co Co. Sala, Aggie Chin formerly of Palena, and Emily Luchetti of Farallon rounded out the evening’s experience. The chefs made themselves available to chat with the guests and the guests continued to bond with one another.
When the last sip of coffee was taken, and the final business cards were exchanged in order to keep in touch with new found friends, it was clear the Sunday Supper was more than just showcasing the talents of culinary all-stars; it was an atmosphere and event created to allow guests to arrive as strangers and leave as family, while sharing the common bond of a great meal.