Dîner en Blanc: An Exquisite Affair
ELEGANT ... MYSTERIOUS ... FUN ...
... are the three words that I would use to describe this international culinary and cultural phenomenon.
How It Started
In June of 1988, François Pasquier organized a picnic with his friends in Bois de Boulogne, a gorgeous public park in the 16ème arrondissement of Paris, and to find each other, he asked all of his friends to wear white.
Twenty-five years later, this refined pique-nique has become so popular that it continues to grow worldwide and in numbers. This year 13,000 attended in Paris, 5,000 in New York City, 5,500 in Montreal and 4,500 in Philadelphia.
Present Day Primer
Today, it is typically in the summer and after a three-phase registration process, thousands of individuals congregate at a secret location (normally a central place within the city) on a specific day (depends on the city), which is literally discovered as you metro or walk to the designated lieu. Invitees are dressed in white from head-to-toe, carry their tables, chairs, centerpieces, and a picnic basket filled with a gourmet meal to be shared à deux or with the entire table (some bring sweet and savory bites to share, which is a kind and smart way to say hi to old friends and meet new acquaintances.) And throughout the evening, there are traditional elements that kick off certain activities such as dinner. At the end of the day, this experience is supposed to be about human collaboration and connection.
2015 Dîner en Blanc - Washington, D.C. Version
Last Saturday night marked the nation's capital second annual Dîner en Blanc and it was incroyable! More than 2,700 individuals - fashionistas, foodies, politicos, students and socialites - stylishly dressed in white (along with supplies of the same color) descended upon this year's secret (and beautiful) venue - Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square.
Orchestral music filled the air as group and table leaders helped direct people to their spots. Scrambling to set up, attendees rapidly decorated their tables and area (which ranged from simple elegant bouquets and candelabras to contraptions that allowed lights to hang), picked up their pre-ordered wine or champagne (sponsors this year were Reims, France-based Lanson and Modesto, California-based Apothic) and laid out their respective menu du jour.
After everyone was settled in, the mood lightened and attendees partook in the napkin twirl, which officially kicked off le dîner. The three-course dinners that night varied from antipasto skewers and cheese and charcuterie platters as appetizers, colorful sushi to quiches to grilled meats as entrées and macarons, canelés and chocolate sweets as desserts. As cameras were flashing and conversations amongst new and old friends occurred, night fell which meant one thing - sparklers. Everyone lit their own creating a gorgeous and ethereal scene. Dance beats by the skilled DJ Sabeel Chohan took over the earlier soft symphonic tunes and got everyone dancing and posing for more pictures until the end of the night on the steps of the over 200-year-old historic library.
Words can only say so much, so here are some photos (all were taken by me unless otherwise credited) from this unforgettable French-inspired evening.
The Departure - Dupont Circle Metro
The Venue - Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square
Champagne and Wine Sponsors of the Night
White Hot Fashion
The Napkin Twirl
Tasty Bites - Sweet and Savory
Dancing and Posing