Over twenty years ago, the first Diner en Blanc took place in Paris and has since gone global. When I read that Toronto would host Canada’s first official Diner en Blanc event about five months ago, I promptly registered on the wait list hoping to receive an exclusive invitation to join 1,400 others to execute a chic pop-up picnic in a surprise location. My golden ticket arrived via email a few weeks ago.
Here’s the deal: I am invited to become a member and bring along one guest to the picnic. The location is secret, but I can choose to meet a group to travel by foot or bus. I must bring my own table, white chairs, china and cutlery, white picnic basket, and (electric) candles to set up my picnic. I can choose to either bring my own 3-course meal or to purchase one from a vendor ahead of time. Most importantly, I must show up in an elegant, head-t0-toe white outfit, rain or shine.
Unfortunately for us, the sun was not shining last Thursday. Bribed by the threat of having my membership and any future invites revoked, I picnic’d in the rain. My friend Bryony and I boarded the bus with our arms full of food and furniture and with our white outfits protected by clear ponchos to be taken to our surprise location: Fort York!
To my amazement and a testament to the good spirits of Torontonians, it seemed that most of the 1,400 guests showed up despite the weather. Men and women of all ages were decked out in fancy white outfits and ready to party. We all set up our tables and waved our white linen napkins to signal the beginning of our dinner.
After checking out other people’s purchased meals (and listening to some of their criticisms), Bryony and I were happy with our decision to bring our own gourmet picnic. We started off with Asparagus and Mascarpone Tarts, followed by a Vietnamese-style Spicy Beef Salad, and ended off with Berry Shortcakes.
We were entertained by live music while we dined and once guests finished eating, they started a dance floor in front of the stage and let loose to popular oldies and top 40 hits. After the sun set, the night was capped off by sparklers being lit by everyone – a beautiful end to the evening.
The good news for you is that the wait list is open for whenever the next Diner en Blanc happens in Toronto. It was an evening full of good energy and spirits, which I imagine will be seriously heightened the next time around when the sun is shining!