What a magical evening The Rose Table en Blanc was! I bought a six foot table to set up in the middle of my garden and invited five foodie friends over for a Le Diner en Blanc-inspired dinner party. If you haven’t heard of it it before, Le Diner en Blanc began in Paris in the 1980s when François Pasquier decided to host a picnic to reunite with friends after a few years abroad. Now over 10,000 Parisian foodies gather each year to celebrate food and friendship at the event.
My first Le Diner en Blanc was the inaugural Diner en Blanc Dallas last year, which was held on the Margaret Hunt Hill Pedestrian Bridge. My experience was a little different than the average guest’s because I worked the media tent. Diner en Blanc Dallas is one of my fabulous PR clients. (If you didn’t know, I own a PR company.) It’s so fun for me to promote because Le Diner en Blanc encompasses everything I preach here on The Rose Table: take time to enjoy great food and great company in a beautiful location….preferably in a fabulous hat!
In cities around the world, Diner en Blanc is held at a top-secret location somewhere outside that celebrates the beauty of the city in which it’s held. Part of the fun of Diner en Blanc is speculating where it will be held year after year. To mimic this, I wanted to set up a table in the middle of my yard rather than host a dinner party in my usual locations: my dining room and my flagstone patio. It was so festive to eat amongst the trees! Here’s how I hosted The Rose Table en Blanc:
Photography for The Rose Table en Blanc provided by Katie Nixon Photography.
For The Rose Table en Blanc, I invited some of my biggest foodie friends. My guests included my good friend and TV producer Dawn, Emmy-award winning photojournalist Peter, local blogger Ginger, world-class violinist Chee-Yun, and foodie extraordinaire, my mum. True to Diner en Blanc form, we all dressed in head-to-toe white ensembles, hats strongly encouraged.
Guests of Le Diner en Blanc wear pure white, not ivory, not eggshell: snow white. Even the shoes are white. It really is one of the best events of the year if you love dressing up like me. After all, it’s not very often you get to wear a fascinator to dinner!
For The Rose Table en Blanc, I recycled my ensemble from Diner en Blanc Dallas 2015 because, well, I loved it, so why not? I adored Dawn’s look: a simple white dress with loads of pearls, a white fascinator, a white watch, and a fabulous white rose cocktail ring.
Part of the fun of Le Diner en Blanc events around the globe is setting up your table for this epic pop-up picnic. People get really into it. Since metallics are allowed, I added a few silver touches, including an Eiffel tower that usually sits on my mantel.
Note: Real candles are not allowed at Le Diner en Blanc. To mimic this look, use fake candles.
I also hung a strand of mercury lights over the table that came to life as the sun went down. I used hanging plant stakes since I was in my own garden, but guests of Le Diner en Blanc build all sorts of incredible light structures. You can tell who’s a first-year and who has been going to Le Diner en Blanc for years!
When you’re planning your table for Le Diner en Blanc, you’ll only be decorating for two: you and your guest. I opted for a whole six foot table, which would be three individual tables at Le Diner en Blanc. I used three mason jars and my mom’s fabulous antique pewter vase to hold my flowers.
Although you are allowed a pop of color with the flowers at Le Diner en Blanc, I decided white and green was the most elegant color scheme for The Rose Table en Blanc. I bought a few white hydrangeas, white roses, white spray, white carnations, and greenery, the name of which is completely escaping me. I always arrange flowers in my hand the way I want them to look in the vase, then cut the stems at an angle.
This is easy to recreate for a single jar, since you can find single hydrangeas and single roses at most grocery stores. (I bought all of my flowers and groceries at Central Market.)
The Place Settings
Attendees of Le Diner en Blanc bring real silverware and real dishes to the pop-up picnic event. The dishes and napkins must also be white, which was easy since mine already are. If you can fold a napkin into a swan, kudos! I am not that talented so I go for simple: candles in jars so they won’t blow out in wind, a folded napkin slipped into an elegant napkin ring, and a herb or flower tucked into the napkin ring.
The flower in the napkin ring is quickly becoming my signature table look! Carnations are one of the main white flowers I purchased for the centerpieces and they always have teeny, tiny buds that need to snipped off. I saved six of them when arranging my flowers and kept them in water until right before my guests came over.
Music is an absolute must at any Diner en Blanc, so we set up a boombox outside. (Yes, I still have mine from the nineties and, quelle chance, it happens to be white!) As aforementioned, beautiful Chee-Yun Kim attended The Rose Table en Blanc (here she is below on the far left) and she was kind enough to bring one of her CDs. It went platinum in Korea but has yet to be released in the US. Lucky me – she let me keep the album, which is full of recognizable movie music.
At the real Le Diner en Blanc, musicians stroll around playing classic French music. Chee-Yun’s CD was the next best thing! For more music inspiration, check out my Dinner Party Playlist.
Apothic Wine is the international sponsor of Le Diner en Blanc, so it seemed like the perfect choice for The Rose Table en Blanc. Plus I quite like Apothic Wine! Apothic White paired beautifully with the menu. I chose a Mexican champagne with twice – twice! – the amount of bubbles of normal champagne to go with dessert.
The Napkin Wave
Nothing says Bon Appétite quite like the napkin wave that kicks off every Le Diner en Blanc around the globe. When the appetizers and salad were on the table and the wine was poured, we commenced dinner with a wave of our white cloth napkins. It was such a festive way to start the four-course meal!
That’s why you’re all here, isn’t it? I threw this party together in one week during my busiest week of the whole year. Typical me move! I work eighty hour weeks as a publicist and I find it absolutely imperative to slow down and enjoy a good meal with friends at least once a week. Cooking is my favorite way to unwind after a long work day.
This menu was shockingly easy to prepare and would be great for any picnic or outdoor setting since everything is served chilled. The appetizers took all of ten minutes to put all three together. The salad took about five. The main course was completely finished and waiting in the fridge. Ditto for dessert. I’ve never thrown a simpler dinner party! Remind me to host chilled dinner parties all summer.
Since Le Diner en Blanc is a pop-up picnic, most guests bring their own food. (You can also pick up a pre-ordered picnic basket full of goodies on site.) I was so honored when the lovely hosts of Diner en Blanc Dallas asked me to create some original recipes for you!
Here’s the menu I came up with:
The Rose Table en Blanc Menu:
Prosciutto wrapped cantaloupe
Mozzarella & tomato skewers
Watermelon & Feta skewers
Bleu Blueberry Spinach Salad
Baguettes served with Irish butter, sea salts
Grilled Shrimp & Veggies Orzo Salad
Fiori di Sicilia Eiffel tower sugar cookies
Blackberry Brownie Trifle in mason jars
Let’s break that down, shall we? Click on the names of each dish for the recipe.
This is a go-to appetizer of mine because it’s so elegant without being fussy. It takes mere minutes to wrap prosciutto around hunks of cantaloupe. It’s hardly even fair to call it a recipe!
Also known as caprese salad on a stick! Delicious drizzled with balsamic vinegar if you aren’t wearing all white.
Watermelon just screams summer. If you don’t want to pack skewers, simply toss all three ingredients in a bowl or use toothpicks instead of skewers.
This simple salad is as good for you as it is tasty! The saltiness of the pistachios balances the sweetness of the blueberries.
Baguette served with butter and a variety of sea salts
No recipe needed. Just buy fresh baguettes and pack up good Irish butter and a couple jars of sea salts for a flight of flavor. Serve alongside the salad. We were amongst friends – as Le Diner en Blanc should be – so we kept the baguettes right on the table.
The flavors in this salad are unreal. Crispy bacon, crunchy veggies, and tangy Feta cheese enhanced by grilled shrimp tossed with lemony orzo is decadent without being too heavy. You’ll still be able to dance the night away at Le Diner en Blanc!
Note: Use my fiori di sicilia sugar cookie recipe and buy an Eiffel tower cookie cutter for a couple of bucks. Bake until they just start to turn brown, about 6-7 minutes.
These mini trifles are easily portable! The mint-infused blackberry sauce takes just minutes to prepare and goes so well with the dark chocolate brownies and vanilla whipped cream.
Enjoy a few iPhone photos from The Rose Table en Blanc:
Remember: the most important component of a dinner party isn’t the table setting or flowers or music, it’s enjoying your company. Good food, good friends, what more could a gal ask for on a Friday night?
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