Chicago's first dȊner en blanc took place last night in the heart of the city, Daley Plaza. It was the most beautiful night for The White Pique Nique! (http://dinerenblancchicago.com/) The idea is something out of Paris and has started popping up in other large cities around the world. It's a bit of flash mob meets picnic.
We sat up our tables and as we heard the church bells ring in the eight o'clock hour, we got up and waved our napkins to signal the beginning of dinner. Pretty funny to see people with a napkin in one hand and camera in the other... hence the fuzzy photo. : )
I wasn't sure exactly what to expect of the whole event. From seeing photos of other city versions, I was certainly intrigued and not quite sure how it all worked, but excited. I had to buy a new table, chairs and a cover for my very colorful tote bag - since everything was to be white. I already had a white dress, shoes and plenty of tableware to choose from. Just had to pull it all together and figure out a way to pack it to get it downtown and not break anything!
I planned a French inspired menu of fresh baguette with beurre salé, salad, lemon chicken & rosemary potatoes and chocolate macaron and chocolate ganache crepes. Everything turned out great, but if I do this again next year... I will drastically change how I pack things. And will need to consider a menu that is better suited to be eaten cold. A learning curve this year for sure!
We were told to set up our tables so that they touch - to create the uniform look of one large table - and that makes for some tight quarters. We were on the end, so only had one couple next to us - the were not particularly chatty, but quite nice. I think for it to be really enjoyable, you need to have a group of four to six friends that can sit together.
What I found odd about the whole thing is that there was really no agenda. Set up in rows like we tell you, swing your napkin to ring in dinner and be gone by 10:30. That's it. There was a little music - a guy playing the accordion while we ate and then a three-piece band about 9. Some folks got up and danced, but mostly people mingled around the plaza and took photos of tables and people climbing on the Picasso sculpture. And, there was no real ending to the whole thing ... some people packed up as early as 9:30 and then a few more and a few more. We decided to pack it in around 10ish.
Overall the event was fun - I mean, how many people can say they had a picnic in Daley Plaza? And it was an absolutely beautiful night. Just another adventure in the city!