B E R Y L S O L O M O N
A key pillar of Zahava is to celebrate the wisdom of the past in the hopes of enhancing our present. One of my favorite pioneers of this space is Beryl Solomon, founder of Poplar: A digital, curated selection of CBD products to help you redefine your wellness.
At a recent Poplar dinner, Beryl created the most epic mix of ancient and modern with a Passover-inspired meal fit with optional CBD and Cannabis pairings! Catered by Tent Rosebud NY, and hosted in a Chinatown loft, the evening featured a coursed meal (beginning with Matzoh Ball Soup of course), and a waiter who came around to each guest to offer them the optional additional salad dressing, sauce or dip, infused with cannabis. Beryl walks us through the inspiration and intention for this epic and wildly original evening.
Tell us about This Meal You Hosted! What was your intention for hosting it and what went down?
"The intention for the dinner was to create an evening where people could take time out of the stress and monotony of the day to day and forget all of the things they feel like they should be doing and places they’re supposed to be and just take a break! I wanted to create an environment where you could immerse yourself in the Poplar world of CBD that may not be a part of your weekly, daily, or ever practice.
Ultimately, my intention was to create an authentic place for people to find a few hours of peace, and I think spending an evening in good company is the definition of that. I believe a lot of this is the idea of not checking your phone. We live in this world where if it doesn’t happen on instagram it didn’t happen at all. And yes this dinner was created to support my business so of course I wanted folks to share it on social. After that moment of sharing, what I actually wanted was for everyone to put down their phones and REALLY connect!
In my personal life, I just started observing a form of Shabbat, where from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday I am committing to no “unnecessary” phone which mostly means social media. We do shabbat dinner and spend time together. I will still text my husband and coordinate things we need to pick up for the kids etc., but nothing unnecessary.
Our theme this month is Balance, inspired by the Zahava Ibex Token. How does the notion of Balance connect back to the spirit of Poplar?
I used cannabis to go off my SSRI, so literally to create Balance in my body. CBD brings my body into homeostasis. That’s what cannabis does on a cellular, molecular level, and that affect permeates through your entire body. Cannabis helps me feel in the moment and also beyond the moment - like seeing the forest and the trees at the same time.
Hosting can feel daunting, you think: I don’t have enough space, the dishes don’t match etc. How do you get over these kinds of hangups and just...host?
It’s like everything else we do -- starting a business, becoming a mom -- you weigh the pros and cons and understand that the pros will outweigh the cons. It may not be perfect, but it’s worth it.
What tips do you have for making an intimate meal feel special without feeling like you have to go overboard or spend a ton of money?
I think less about “intimate” and more about “real” or the annoying buzz word authentic (it’s annoying but it’s true!). I think about the mental space everyone is walking in with and how I can make everyone feel comfortable, especially considering the complicated subject matter of CBD and Cannabis. Ultimately though, I can make the space safe and beautiful, but to achieve the feeling of intimacy the guests have to buy in. People have to respond to the metaphorical table you set for them.
How did you get the vibes going with such a large group, and when inviting people who don’t know each other?
I made a commitment to greet each of my guests. I stood at the entry, and my intention (though it wasn’t necessarily premeditated), was to set the tone, showing by example. If their first exposure to the evening was my warm, effusive and friendly hello, than that created the feeling of the space they were walking into.
I also make a point to introduce people to each other. Everyone just wants something to grasp onto, it doesn’t have to be anything significant. I had a boot cast on my foot when I met my husband, and I used to joke that it was a man magnet! It was so easy to connect on -- that standard, “Oh boy, what happened to you?!” That’s all people want, a way to connect, even if it’s super dumb. So when you introduce two people you create an opening, and if they bump into each other later in the evening, they have the tools to bring that connection back. Serving up those up nuggets is what makes a good host..
Our Zahava candelabras were crafted to create a centerpiece to anchor an evening. Do you have any special objects that anchor the evening for you?
People bond over food. The anchor that night was the menu. But even when I’m hosting a Shabbat at home, there’s always an element that is family style. I don’t want anything to feel pretentious, that’s just not my personality. Any element that makes my relaxed approach apparent is my anchor because that casual vibe is what makes me feel most comfortable as a host. I’m not about having fancy China and the proper fork -- that would never be my jam even if I had the most money in the world. We didn’t register for China, I would rather have 10 people eating off of mis-matched plates than have perfect China but only be able to invite 6. Living in a nyc apartment and having kids, hosting is about food and the experience we are going to share together, and less about what you are going to put the food on.
What’s your favorite memory from this dinner you hosted?
I was so proud and happy that I was able to pull off what I envisioned in my mind, and that people had a great time and felt like they participated in something special. It’s a sign that you’ve done something right if people want to come back. It’s hard to get people to show up -- we’re all tired etc. but people wanting to come back again because they liked hanging out with you or better yet because they met cool people -- that’s super rad."