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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dîner en Blanc Toronto 2013

On Thursday, August 29, 2013, we headed to Dîner en Blanc in Toronto. From their website, this event is described as, "At the last minute, the location is given to thousands of friends and acquaintances who have been patiently waiting to learn the “Dîner en Blanc's” secret place. Thousand of people, dressed all in white, and conducting themselves with the greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette, all meet for a mass “chic picnic” in a public space."

We attended last year, when our surprise location was Fort York.  The evening was, without hyperbole, magical and we were so excited to attend again.
The drive to Toronto was horrendous.  With the CNE in town, we missed our departure point for the bus.  Because the location is top secret, there is no way to just meet up at the point - so we resorted to yelling out the window to anyone wearing white.  We actually managed, by driving randomly, to find a group waiting to board the TTC and the group leader told us to drive to the intersection of Shuter & Mutual.  When we did, we saw the buses and discovered our secret location: a parking lot - not one of the most prestigious areas of the city, as described in the Dîner en Blanc FAQ.
Despite our disappointment in the location, we made the best of the situation and began our delicious picnic.  First, we started with some sparkling lemonade.  
While we waited for the signal to begin dining, entertainment circled the parking lot.  In this case, a fan dancer
 and a burlesque dancer covered in balloons.
At Dîner en Blanc, the beginning of dinner is symbolized by the waving of white napkins in the air.
Knowing we wouldn't have time to cook, I picked up a Picnic Basket from Cake & Loaf.  This is half of the cheese and fruit combination, with their housemade crackers. The basket features a delicious assortment of Brie, Applewood Smoked Cheddar and Cheddar Cheese with fresh berries, nuts and a delicious jam that paired wonderfully with the cheese and berries. 
We then moved onto the antipasto platter.  Again, the flavor combinations were wonderful. The boccocini cheese and cherry tomato skewers were fresh and provided a great contrast to the sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts. Our basket also came with a mushroom pate, two demi-baguettes, juice and water.  A fantastic picnic for $27!
Dessert was baked by my mother - Carrot Cake in a Jar. A sweet way to end the evening's meal. 
At 9:30 p.m., all members light a sparkler at the same time. As this years party reached its climax for a few brief moments with sparkles filling the sky a dingy parking lot became the most beautiful spot in the city. Sometimes all you need is a a little sparkle and the Toronto skyline in the background in order to make the ordinary stunning.
We had a great table, made some wonderful new friends, drank some great wine and had an enjoyable evening. Dîner en Blanc is not an inexpensive proposition - all tables and chairs must meet certain requirements (and be purchased), the tickets came to about $90, once all fees were added, and all food and drinks, excluding wine (due to LCBO rules), must be brought in.  Perhaps our expectations were inflated last year with the remarkable location at Fort York, but for the amount of preparation and cash, I expected more than a parking lot.  We will return next year, but with hopes of a much more remarkable location.

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