Diner En Blanc Déjà vu

Mon Dieu, I can’t believe its been a year since Diner En Blanc 2012.

If you weren’t reading this blog last year (MISTAKE, you’ve missed out on a year’s worth of awesome); check out my post from last year to hear the details on the first year of this event.

For you lazy charlie’s here’s the cliff notes version:

– Diner En Blanc is basically a “pop-up” picnic that started in France 25 years ago.
– The event is held at a public, but undisclosed location (so the guests don’t know where it is until the night of the event).
– Attendees dress in all white (no cream, no ivory) and bring their own WHITE table, chairs, decorations, 3-course picnic dinner and champagne and set it all up on-site.
– After everyone enjoys their dinners and drinks; there’s dancing, sparklers and debauchery.
– Afterwards, everyone packs up all their stuff (including trash) and leaves the location as if the event were never there.

Fun right?

This year’s Cincinnati event was held at Washington Park (but there are events all over the country and the world, check it out).

Having been through this event once before; I knew the drill. I had my white dress, champagne and white table set-up on lock…..except for one wee problem….IMG_6738My table.

Not finding the suggested 24×36 camp table; I used a low patio table from my porch. While it got the job done; it looked like my date and I were at a kid’s table (I wish I put something in there for scale; that table be small).

Ignoring my Lilliputian table,  I was most excited about planning my picnic dinner.
Last year, my friend and I had ordered one of the pre-prepared picnic dinners (vegetarian, as that was what was left when we ordered) and while it was delicious; I was looking forward to making my own dinner this year.

The rules of Diner En Blanc picnic encourage you to provide 3 elegant courses:
A Starter
Entrée with Salad
Cheese and/or Dessert Course

Never one to back down from a challenge; I went for all four courses.

First Course:
Prosciutto, Tuscan Melon, Mozzarella and Fresh Mint Skewers 

IMG_6745These were a huge hit. I knew I wanted to do Prosciutto and Melon; and found a few recipes that encompassed this. Could. not. have been. simpler. I only dressed it with a bit of black pepper. These were gobbled up by us and the friends around us.

Ah yes, the friends around us. Part of the fun of Diner En Blanc is that you set up your tables in one long row of 50 (everyone is assigned a table group). Once everyone has set up with their (appropriately sized) tables and chairs; it looks like one long gorgeous dinner table (again, the kiddie table sort of put a damper on this effect..) But no matter…onto dinner! 

Second Course:
Lemon Basil Baked Chicken 

Almond/Raisin Whole Wheat Cous Cous 
Mixed Herb Salad (Arugula, Basil & Mint) with Lemon & Olive Oil Dressing 
Tabouli with mini Heirloom tomatoes
French baguette (mais oui) 
I wanted to make “picnic-friendly” food; ie nothing with dairy that could or would spoil in the heat (and it was HOT); but was still elegant enough for our evening. Everything came out summery and fresh. Exactly what I was after. Recipes were SO simple, I feel silly sharing, but here’s a few….

Lemon Basil Chicken: 1 lb, cleaned chicken breast, cut into tenders. Marinate for 1 hour in a mix of 1/2c. olive oil, 1/4c. lemon juice (slice lemon after juiced and add to marinade), small handful of fresh basil, hearty dash of garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper.  Bake on a baking sheet (lemons and all) at 350 for 20 minutes (until chicken is no longer pink in the middle).

Almond/Raisin Cous Cous: 1/3c. dry whole wheat cous cous, cooked according to package directions. To that, add 1/3c. golden raisins, 1/3c. slivered almonds, 2 tsp Madras curry powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder and 2 tbs olive oil. Stir well. Sea salt/back pepper to taste.

Tabouli: I follow my family’s church recipe, but try Bethany’s recipe, easy to follow and delicious. I added mini heirloom tomatoes, rather than garden and left them in bigger chunks for some texture and color.

After dinner, we walked around the event; talked to people, enjoyed drinks and admired everyone’s beautiful tables….IMG_6759….and some of us took a spin on the wheelie thing in the nearby playground…adults in white just wanna have fun. IMG_6752Back to the food!

Third Course:
Cheese Plate: Smoked Gouda, Triple Cream Brie & Coastal Cheddar Cheeses. Accompanied by Genoa Salami, Fresh Raspberries and Chili-Lime Cashews.
This was the perfect between-dances-and-drinks snack plate. I served this with (unpictured pita chips). The best part about this? Everything you see there came from Trader Joe’s. Thanks Joe.

The evening was still going; when we stopped to take a beauty shots of us girls.

Why yes, I AM wearing a floral wreath in my hair…that I made with pipe cleaners and fake flowers…who said I’m not crafty! Thanks Girl Scout Troop 4819 for instilling in me the many, many uses of pipe cleaners in craft projects..and accessories. IMG_6761Another delicious treat was that G.H Mumm was one of the sponsors of the event and yours truly was the recipient of one of the raffle-off bottles to our table.
Champers for all! IMG_6765
(Hmmm, photobomb anyone?)

The night wrapped up with people dancing in the gazebo and me losing one of my wine glasses, which is always the sign of a good night. IMG_6767But wait, there’s more!

We were SO full from the first three courses, we didn’t get to dessert during the actual dinner.  Don’t worry, it was eaten the next day.

Next Day Fourth Course:
Almond Joy Bars from Glorious Treats 

IMG_6735Since I’m me; I definitely made some adjustments to the recipe.  I didn’t toast the almonds, I used an egg yolk in the shortbread…. and rather than make ganache…I slathered warm hot fudge over the top. Yeah, I did that.

Cheers to another year of Diner En Blanc!

(and I am ordering my own 24×36 table NOW…)


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