A few weeks ago I attended a truly unique foodie event called Diner en Blanc (Diner in White): an outdoor meal set in a mystery location while everyone sports white clothes, white shoes and white accessories, carrying their tables with white table cloth and white chairs . This event takes place in about 12 different countries at different dates. It started about15 years ago in Paris.
This year was the 4th edition of the Montreal Diner en Blanc but it was my first year participating. Why did I wait so long? Well the first year I missed the scoop and then the following years the rules changed: you have to bring your own table, chairs, real dishes, real utensils and real wine glasses. Too much of a hassle! Also you must be accompanied by someone of the opposite sex (rules have relaxed this year for same sex couples).
Finally I caved in this year and decided to attend this unique experience. My beau was not free that night so I asked a colleague to be my date…thankfully he took charge of the ‘furniture’. You can ask to be seated with friends too online so we were actually a group of 5 couples. We gathered our dinner kit but we opted for the catered picnic basket. Great decision! We just had to get our wine too.
The location is only revealed 30 minutes before event. How? When you reserve online you are asked to choose one of the many meeting spots around the city. Once there, everyone piles into one of the tour buses which drive us all to the mystery outdoor location. The bus leader announces where we are going as we drive there. Our secret location this year? The terrace of Place des Arts, Montreal’s major performing arts center, right in the heart of downtown.
Everything is choreographed: you are assigned a seating area and everyone sets up their tables. As we get ready to sit down and eat, the sun is starting to set. All you see is a stunning sea of white. This year no less than 4,200 people participated.
We eat, we drink, we talk…everyone is merry. Our catered picnic includes a gaspacho soup, a fancy chicken wrap, 2 salads, a cheese and fruit platter, bread, and a Jack Daniels Panna Cotta.
The party really begins when everyone lights a sparkler. I am not sure if it was planed but the white balloons given earlier to each lady were released as well. Two thousands helium white balloons dancing together as they flew up to meet the stars in the sky. This was one of the most magical and spectacular moments of my life.
The DJ got his groove on as the dance floor opened. The tiny dance floor was flooded in an instant so people just shook their booty wherever they stood. A large crowd kicked our shoes of their shoes and got into the huge basin fountain. I joined of course and it was a totally cool moment. We laughed at the locals and tourist who laughed and snapped pictures of us.
Around 11pm we started to pack up, leaving absolutely nothing behind: no imprint on the environment is emphasized (except for the balloons apparently). Thousands of happy and tired people made their way back to the buses which brought us back to the pick up location.
Would I do it again? Absolutely! It is a lot of work and preparation to get there but it truly is a magnificent and special experience. Some say it is old fashioned and presumptuous. I kinda of thought that before too but not anymore. It’s lighthearted old world charm and glamor.