Dirk Meyer and Jennifer Berges Meyer are musical icons in Sarasota. Dirk was recently named associate conductor of the Sarasota Orchestra (after five years as assistant conductor), and Jennifer has become known as a fundraiser for a variety of causes, from the Citizens Advisory Committee and her co-chairmanship of National Philanthropy Day, to her career as associate development director at WUSF, Public Media. Two dominant themes run through their home: music and food.
“Dirk is the real cook in the house,” Jennifer admits. “It’s not that I don’t know how to cook, but more that I don’t really enjoy it. It stresses me out. Dirk loves to do it, and he’s pretty darn good at it.”
The newlyweds both love food, and they do a lot of entertaining that involves both of their passions — food and music.
“It’s so much fun to plan a menu,” says Jennifer, “and I love to make fancy cocktails to greet our guests. Because most of our friends are musicians or work in the performing arts, we tend to eat late and stay up late.”
Like many others who are intimately involved with music, neither likes much music during dinner parties.
“It can’t be too loud, but we do enjoy having a little Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin or Ella Fitzgerald,” Dirk says.
Jennifer agrees but adds, “You have to be careful in your selections because it can affect the mood. I like more current music such as The Shins or Beirut, two of our favorite indie groups, but I have to have the clicker handy just in case a downer comes on.”
She quickly adds: “When in doubt, we’ll turn on WSMR (the 24-hour Tampa/Sarasota all-classical radio station) and let the classical music play.”
Dirk, who most likely has classical music thrumming through his head 24/7, likes background sound.
“Frank makes for a great soundtrack, as well as Amy Winehouse,” he says. “I like to have background noise to keep me company because I’m often left alone in the kitchen. Even background TV will do.”
Although Dirk is German and cooks quite a few dishes from his homeland— such as schnitzel and spaetzle — the couple loves all kinds of food. In fact, one of Dirk’s favorite local restaurants is Gateway to India. And their favorite way to celebrate after one of Dirk’s performances is to have a party.
“Jennifer will make a dangerously delicious punch, and we’ll order platters of sushi,” Dirk says. “I love to fire up the grill and keep it casual. There’s no better way to unwind than with your friends at home.”
But they also do a lot of traveling — for food.
“We took a trip to New Orleans last February, basically to eat and relax,” says Jennifer. “We fell in love with John Besh’s restaurant, August. This past New Year’s Eve, we were in Amsterdam and had an amazing dinner at Roots — that was an experience. Everything is locally produced or sourced in the Netherlands. It was so fresh and delicious and the ambience was modern yet very romantic. It was perfect.”
Dirk’s Salmon and Lentil Salad
Serves: 2; Start to finish: 30 to 40 minutes
For music to listen to while making one of Dirk and Jennifer Meyer’s favorite weeknight dishes, listen to Frank Sinatra’s 1958 album, “Come Fly With Me,” featuring songs from “The Isle of Capri” to “April in Paris” and “It’s Nice to Go Trav’ling.”
1 cup lentils
1 pound salmon
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups arugula
2 cups of mixed greens
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 red onion
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
Combine 1 tablespoon Dijon, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil. Use this to marinate the salmon. Set aside while preparing lentils.
Boil lentils until tender (20 to 25 minutes).
Drain and set aside.
Place the salmon in a baking dish and cover with foil. Cook at 425 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until it reaches desired doneness.
Combine 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for the salad dressing. Mix the greens with the arugula, walnuts, red onion and lentils, toss with the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the salmon.
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