Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Le Diner en Blanc

Last Friday we attended Le Diner a San Francisco, our local version of Le Diner en Blanc, which started in Paris and has spread around the world. The concept is this: many, many people (about 3000 in San Francisco) show up at a spot that is announced day-of by the organizers. Long tables are already set up. The participants bring tablecloths, chairs, table decorations, booze, and, of course, dinner. Everyone wears white. All the table settings are white. Even the napkins, which get waved around periodically throughout the dinner, are white. What's the point? Community, creativity, surprise, etc etc. Really it's just very very pretty, and novel.
Since I've only been back from Germany for a week, I didn't have the time or the energy to get too ambitious in my Le Diner planning. My aim was to keep it simple. With that in mind, I made a one-dish entree that, along with an appetizer of cheeses and a purchased cake for dessert, made for a special but easy meal. I went with a vegetable shepherd's pie, frankensteining together a few different recipes. I cooked black lentils, roasted acorn squash, and simmered carrots and kale with broth and fresh thyme. I layered these in a baking pan, piled mashed potatoes on top, stuck it all under the broiler, and wound up with a dish that was still hot a few hours later at the dinner. I neglected to take a picture of the final product, but here you have the beautiful squash and a weird-looking heap o' lentils.
On Friday evening we parked a bit of a walk from the dinner site and got a workout hauling everything in that warmed us up for the blustery night. The white sky was appropriately in theme, though it did obscure the view of the bridge and the bay from Marina Green. But don't worry! The party had more than enough scenery. There were people in suits, togas, tuxes, wedding dresses, minidresses, even a chicken suit. 

We dressed in absolutely everything white that we own, as you can see. I bought the fascinator while in Germany a few years ago for a friend's wedding, and you'd be shocked at how many occasions I can find to wear it. (Or, maybe, not so shocked).
The dinner officially got started with the napkin wave, accompanied by lots of whooping and hollering, aided by the fact that most people had already been on site for an hour or two, setting up and drinking wine. At one point a few hours into the dinner, after the Giants won their game against the Cardinals, someone at a nearby table waved their orange Terrible Towel. This led to a hearty Let's Go Giants cheer, which is even better than usual when hollered by wine-drunk people in formalwear. Trust me on this.
We had dragged along two friends and sat with a much larger group, all of whom were decked out in some sassy finery. Mini top hats galore.
We drank, we ate, we ogled, we made merry. Some of the other table setups were absolutely amazing - canopies strung with lights, huge flower arrangements, candles out the wazoo.
The dinner might have been a tough sell for some (ahem, Mike, cough) who (rightly, she said grudgingly) wondered why we were paying for the pleasure of making ourselves dinner and carrying a bunch of crap to a field to eat it. But I loved it. And we didn't even see anyone spill wine on their all-white getup! (I did get grass stains on my knees from crawling around under the table, but that's a different story.) Next year, you should join me.

No comments: