Last Thursday night I had the pleasure of attending Toronto's inaugural Diner en Blanc. For those of you who haven't been privy to all the hoopla, Diner en Blanc can be defined as a smart mob or flash feast - kind of like a flash mob but instead of a group of people breaking out into a dance routine, a bunch of strangers dressed all in white congregate at a secret location and set up an elegant dinner time picnic. I found out about the event which began in Paris in the late 80's the way all cool kids find out about posh by invitation only events... on a blog of course. I signed up to be on a wait list and about a month ago I received the news that I had been invited with a guest. Yay me! The rules to this underground dining ring were lengthy. You couldn't just show up with a gingham table cloth and some sandwiches and call it a picnic. No no I had to scour the city for suitable white folding chairs, the perfect square table no smaller than 24", no larger then 32", a picnic basket (preferably white, or if non white must be covered in a white cloth), a white table cloth, white linen napkins, China, silverware, glassware, must bring a three course dinner, must wear an elegant white not cream or ivory outfit and some joie de vivre. Subsequently, we also needed white or clear poncho or umbrella given that it turned out to be the rainiest day this summer. I was seriously considering backing out the day of when my friend Rebecca reminded me "if you don't come you will never be invited back!" Her words echoed in my mind as we walked out of our taxi in the rain to the meeting spot in front of the ROM. I felt utterly ridiculous until I saw the sea of white clad trend setters invade the streets of Toronto. As we approached Bathurst and King the buzzing had exploded around us, the word was out and the historic Fort York was our destination for the evening.
It was quite a sight to see, rows and rows of buses and people dressed only in white completely drenched schlepping all the listed items through the muddy grass to the open field. I had to laugh all through the first 30 minutes of setting up. It was hilarious watching women in high heels set up their "elegant dinner" in the rain. It poured all though our first course, all over my Caesar kale slaw and shared cheese tray, right though my white table cloth & linen napkins but the rain did not stop anyone from having a fabulous time. Just as we were warming up to the table of friends next to us enjoying their margarita pizzas and beef carpaccio from Pizzeria Libretto the rain stopped and the sky cleared. All of a sudden I felt the magic all around us, 1,400 strangers all dressed in white surround us enjoying each others company, sharing in the strange and whimsy of it all. l.
I went on to thoroughly enjoy my main course of olive oil poached cod with arugula & mint pesto, raw puttanesca gluten free pasta and roasted cauliflower. There was a lot of charcuterie and cheese trays around, many people opted to pick up dinner from local hot spots like Whole Foods or the picnic basket at County General. There was also the option to purchase a catered meal provided by chef Ted Corrado but being the Tomato Snob I am that just wouldn't do. The night before I stayed up late to make a vegan gluten free peach berry tart with an almond and lavender crust. Yes I was trying to make everyone around me jealous and that I did.
Gruvhunter. It was kind of like New Years with out counting down from ten, popping bottles or having to kiss any stinky garlic breathed party goers (yes I'm speaking of myself).
As you can see everyone was totally committed to the theme of the evening white everything although there were a number of people wearing the forbidden ivory & creme. I thought they were going to be persecuted for such an abomination, but in good spirits the party gods let them be. If you do get the chance to attend this sensational event don't pass up the invitation, It's definitely a night to be experienced by all.
Photo credits 1-12 by Jaime Verk - Perez, #13 by Rebecca Goodman.