“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf
A few years back, we received our first invite for Diner en Blanc here in Detroit, Michigan. This beautiful dinner party remains one of my top favorite memories I have stored and tucked away since moving back to Detroit. That year it was held in Eastern Market which is a fabulous open space with pavilions typically packed with many local farm’s fresh goods & flowers throughout the year. Only this time, there were people all around, dressed elegantly in all white, all coming together for a common purpose, to gather over good quality food & drink with friends. I loved everything about it; the beautifully set tablescapes, the thoughtfully prepared food, the people watching and of course the champagne! You can literally hear the corks popping all around and every time you simply want to raise your glass & toast!
If you’ve never yet heard of Diner en Blanc, this is a worldwide event where people essentially get together for a flash-mob dinner. They meet at a secret public space that is released only days prior to those invited and a temporary chic dining experience is curated by each of the table’s hosts. All of the guests are expected to come dressed in all shades of white to enjoy excellent food & a lot of bubbles. All of the guests work with their table’s host to coordinate everything from the food and drinks, to the tables, chairs, china, glasses & tablecloths. No paper or plastic aloud here! To what extent the table’s decor is designed is up to the guests and their hosts. It truly is amazing to see what everyone comes up with and how beautiful it all looks together. Diner en Blanc is really a time for creative expression underscored by class and elegance. Keeping with the traditions make this event all the more special by it’s uniqueness.
As for a little history around Diner en Blanc, the concept began back in Paris when a gentleman, named Francois Pasquier, invited a group of friends to an elegant outdoor dinner at Bois de Boulogne, asking them to dress in white so they could find each other. And so, this evolved into a presence that has now spanned over 70 plus cities across the globe. We are so thrilled this stylish and secret event has made it’s way to Detroit. Afterall, Detroit has it’s French roots so it is only appropriate, right?
This year we were invited to host a table which was an exciting honor since we could influence the invitations to our guests and help guide the direction of the food and tablescape. The secret location was Clark Park in Southwest Detroit; a lovely open space and just a perfect setting for some open air dining. We selectively invited a table of twelve to join us for this fabulous experience. Most of our guests did not know each other but all had in common an extreme passion for creativity and excellent food. This made for intriguing conversation and engagement with one another which is something I absolutely love. Pulling together the decor was so much fun since everyone contributed to the cause. I had described the theme as a somewhat Bohemian style where Anthropologie meets Mabel Gray Kitchen at Diner en Blanc for our table this year. Our friend’s Josh & Christine even went so far as to create small tealight holders out of birch branches and tiny cordial glasses with small succulents adding a rustic, natural feel. I brought gorgeous limelight hydrangeas from our garden neatly tucked in old Detroit creamer bottles and mason jars. And lastly, a stop to the La Belle Antique Shop pulled everything together when my friend Taffany and I neatly laid out the sweetly mismatched fine china.
Since all of our guests were either home chefs or the real deal, this made the menu all too easy. From incredible appetizers including a beautiful papaya bruschetta, delicious mozzarella, peach & prosciutto skewers by the inspirational Justine Poteat, to a stunning spread of cheese and charcuterie with homemade baguettes. We then experienced our friend’s refreshing watermelon salad with mango, cilantro & jalapenos to cleanse the palette. And from there it just got better with our sinfully delicious curried mussels, chef Jared Bobkin’s ever so tender pork & beef tenderloin and ending with a delightful lemon posset with champagne-poached berries from pastry chef Trevor Smith. And of course there was champagne and wine….a lot of champagne and wine thanks to Annrae & Anthony of Westborn Market.
Diner en Blanc is truly a time to experience. The soiree is held rain or shine and luckily we were able to chat, laugh and sip into a perfectly cozy summer evening’s night sky. As the sun was setting and people began to slowly deconstruct the tables, it was a reminder that coming together around the table with friends can be fleeting but for me it’s all about the connection. Authentic connection with people with common purpose over a common language, this being food, is truly a powerful thing. It’s about love, laughter and inspiration. And one thing I am sure of, is that our guests left that night feeling inspired, which makes me smile with a happy heart. Cheers until next year!
So, let’s raise a glass and say à votre santé & Au revoir for now!