Popcorn and Politics at the National Press Club
What does this year's new National Press Club chair want at her inaugural dinner tomorrow night in Washington? Popcorn. The reporter for Indiana's Journal Gazette is definitely going beyond Jiffy Pop too. That's where executive chef Jim Swensen comes in, concocting a "Popcorn and Politics" menu for Sylvia Smith and her attendees.
Going on his seventeenth year as chef of Fourth Estate, the National Press Club's historic restaurant, Swenson has dealt with a slew of big enchiladas. Giada, Mario, Rachel, not to mention U.S. presidents, international correspondents and diplomats. But this might be first time he's doctored up popped corn kernels for a garnish on his tomato and corn salad or crispy polenta with creamed corn. Dessert will include a cheese platter with Indiana cheeses of course (mmm, Wabash Cannonball) paired with his chocolate-smothered popcorn. A nod to Harry and David's Moose Munch, perhaps?
Swensen's experience with Indiana cuisine may have been limited before last month, but he's really been into the menu development. Dish names will take inspiration from Indiana-isms like Tippecanoe and Hoosier, and famous natives like Cole Porter and Hoagie Carmichael.
About the author: Erin Zimmer, Serious Eats's Washington, D.C., correspondent, is a just-graduated Georgetown gal following her nose about town as Washingtonian magazine's Dining intern and Best Bites blogger. She got her start as the Hoya campus paper's food columnist, and since entering "real person-hood" has ached for her dining hall's omelet station.