Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Diner en Blanc
It's been an interesting summer. June was baking and dry, and the grass outside my window was parched and straw-like. July was intensely hot and humid, and then the rains began. The grass in the city became lush and green, startling me with its hardiness.
Just as hardy were those adventurous souls that took part in Toronto's first official Diner en Blanc. I volunteered to be a table host, and it was fantastic. Started in Paris in someone's garden 25 years ago, Diner en Blanc is now an international sensation. It stands for nothing, it makes no statement, but instead is an event of beautiful and gracious proportions.
The idea is that people sign up to take part in a picnic, that happens rain or shine. They bring with them white chairs, folding tables and white linens, real place settings and great food (unless they pre-order from the official caterer). They dress from head to toe in white. They don't know where they're going until the last moment.
This first Diner en Blanc Toronto was capped at 1400 participants. It will grow next year. From designated meeting spots all over the city, the unsuspecting guests were ferried to the grounds of Fort York. The rain was soft and the glow from all the white linens and the strange pink clouds made everyone look so beautiful. The outfits were stunning and varied... a beautiful woman in a white sari, young women in white tutus, a handsome gentleman in a white naval uniform, a man next to me in a white dhoti; there were modified wedding dresses, fascinators, boas, and so much more. None of my photographs did any justice as my camera got soaked. The one image of me looks like I've been rolled in marshmallow but that's my boa. My face looks like it was melting... it wasn't, but it was dripping wet as were the rest of us... so much fun! I love getting caught in the rain, maybe it's my English heritage.
Dinner was started by the mass waving of white linen napkins, and, as we did so, the rain stopped. Miracle! The sky cleared and the night became cool and dry. Perfetto! I had taken the day off work to cook, and our picnic started with gorgeous cheeses and baguette, and champagne, followed by poached salmon, asparagus in phyllo, tomato salad, and completed with key lime pie. Live jazz and opera during dinner was followed by a great DJ after dinner, and the traditional lighting of the sparklers.
At 11 o'clock we vanished, the directive being that we leave nothing behind, as though we'd never been there.
It was a very special event. I was very busy in the days leading up, and this is one of the reasons I haven't blogged much lately. *One* of the reasons.