I think my interest in Dîner en Blanc lasted about 45 seconds. The first year it came to Philadelphia I remember when I came across the initial press and my intrigue quickly became confusion. I was on board at first since a huge outdoor picnic with a color theme sounded kind of lovely, but with the barriers to entry and the price, I was quickly over it. Quite simply, paying to lug a table, chairs, an entire meal, plates, flatware, and wine to an undisclosed location while dressed to the nines just to flaunt my disposable income grossed me out.
And then Dîner en Noir came along.
My biggest problem with Dîner en Blanc was, of course, the problem of what the ticket price represented. Sure, it costs money to get permits for events, but when you’re bringing in over $100k and all your workers are volunteers, the remainder is going into someone’s pocket. I also have no desire own an all-white cocktail dress, much less purchasing one for a single evening.
Dîner en Noir basically took the best parts of the Dîner en Blanc concept and ran with it. No nepotism, incredible music, and as you drag that table to your meeting place you can take comfort in the fact that the proceeds go to charity—Philabundance and Friends of Penn Treaty Park to be exact. And who doesn’t feel sexy in all black? Oh, and did I mention that they actually drove us to the final picnic location? Very classy touch.
I had originally planned to prepare our picnic dinner, but when we learned Chef Ritter was catering, we knew we had to go with his menu. As with all of his food, it was fantastic. The charcuterie plate was the stand-out, featuring pork belly rillettes and chicken liver pâté served with toasted bread. It also included an assortment of pickles including cornichons, green beans, and absolutely incredible herb-pickled mushrooms. The walnut-tarragon pistou and truffled honey was a perfect accompaniment.
The meal also included a fresh salad with dijon dressing, and two excellent French sandwiches. The pan bagnat included tuna in olive going, capers, artichoke, shallots, and egg–totally decadent. The jambon buerre was a perfect contrast to the brine of the pan bagnat, with a simple combination of proscuitto, radish, and good European butter.
Dessert was wonderfully light—thankfully, because we were stuffed—with chocolate cover strawberries and chai/lemon/pistachio madelines
We were having too much fun to snap more than a few photos, but check out this gorgeous album of photos taken by Gregg Sims over on Flickr.
Merci beaucoup, Dîner en Noir. We’ll see you in 2015.