Last year was my very first Dîner en Blanc experience and to say it was my favorite Philly Food Girl memory to-date, would be a gross understatement. I found myself standing on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, surrounded by thousands of others, all dressed in white, and the moment brought tears to my eyes. A national landmark, all the history, all the fun, all the music, all the food, brought on ALL the feels.
If you’ve somehow missed what DEB is all about, let’s get you caught up!
Dîner en Blanc is a worldwide event, spanning six continents, in which people flash-gather in a public space and set up a temporary, chic dining area. Guests come dressed in white to enjoy quality food and wine. Only a select number of participants who have previously signed up are made privy to the location the day of the dinner, and generally converge in an iconic city location.
The Dîner en Blanc concept began in Paris in 1988 when Frenchman François Pasquier invited a group of friends to an elegant outdoor dinner at Bois de Boulogne, asking them to dress in white so they could find each other. The event's presence has grown to over 70 cities, with almost 15,000 gathering for the 25th-anniversary event in Paris.
DEB kicked off in Philly in 2012 with 1300 attendees surrounding the Fountain at Logan Circle. In 2013, 2200 attendees lined up on the JFK Bridge, out front of 30th Street Station. By 2014, the demand to participate had climbed to 3500 attendees, stretching the Avenue of the Arts with City Hall acting as the ultimate Philly setting. The rain in 2015 didn’t stop 4500 attendees from dancing and dining the night away at The Navy Yard. And finally, in 2016, a staggering 5000 attendees (with thousands on a wait-list) made their way to the steps and surrounding area of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, including Eakins Oval, perhaps trumping the previous City Hall backdrop. This year’s undisclosed location will host the largest number of attendees ever held in the United States: 5200!
What to Wear
Listen guys, it’s August. It’s hot, it’s humid, and you’re going to be trekking through the city by train, car, and likely foot. Heavy lined satin, or thick polyester are not gonna work here. Also, the theme is WHITE. Not tan, not light grey, not pops of color, WHITE. Some people get decked to the nines, some are scantily-clad to coddle the heat situation, and some even take a more theatrical approach and go all-out with masks, hats, and light-up costumes (these are so fun to see!).
I tend to lean towards “comfy cas”, with some bold jewelry to dress it up, as the way to go (and my overall standard outfit philosophy!). After stressing myself silly last year, I ended up finding a $12 dress at Target! You can also check out H&M, Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Macy’s.
DON’T FORGET! You are walking, and in some case, walking pretty far. This isn’t the time for your highest Loubs. You can looks stellar and still not want to rip your shoes off. Or, if all else fails, wear flip flops and change into your shoes once you arrive and your destination. Keep in mind, however, it’s one more thing to carry!
What to EAT & Drink
Tied with what to wear is what to eat & drink! And since I am Philly Food Girl, I have several tips for you.
1. Nothing mayo-based. It’s going to be sitting in the heat, and odds are you’re not going to want to bring a cooler full of ice in addition to everything else you need to carry. Try my Greek Orzo Salad (a variation of one I took from The Pioneer Woman) which can be modified any which way you like, and makes a ton. Pro Tip: Know others who are going? Split the food prep and share!
Greek Orzo Salad
1 lb. cooked orzo 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved ½ cup Kalamata olives ½ cucumber, large dice 1 pepper (yellow, green, or red), diced ½ can of chickpeas, drained ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled fresh parsley, chopped
Dressing (whisk or shake in a jar to combine) 2 lemons, juiced + zest of 1 ½ cup EVOO 1 tsp kosher salt pinch of sugar ½ tsp cracked black pepper ½ tsp dried oregano
Combine salad ingredients, top with dressing, stir, and let sit for an least 1 hour (overnight is best). Keeps in the refrigerator for a week.
1. Picky things. Fresh fruit, cheese & crackers, chips & guac, salsa, etc. Di Bruno Bros has pre-made cheese & crackers + grapes + candied pecans. They’re perfect and save you a ton of money from having to purchase separately.
3. Don’t forget dessert! This is the perfect time for cupcakes, cookies and brownies.Make your own or grab some from Sweet Box at 13th & Pine (delivery available too).
4. Dranks! Listen, I’m going to share TMI but it’s worth the self-sacrifice.Last year I didn’t pee once during DEB, it was SO HOT! You want to stay hydrated, and not with all booze. Trust me. I may or may not have an Uber receipt of pickup from Somewhere in North Philly. It’s worth lugging a few liter bottles of water. If you’re looking for a great wine selection, try Nawrocki Imports. They’re amazing!Want to mix it up? Look no further than my PFG DEB Spritzer
PFG DEB Cocktail
Combine pureed strawberries (or watermelon!) with muddled fresh basil and your favorite sparkling white wine or champagne.
Photo Credit: Veggie and the Feast
The suspense is mounting on where #DEBPHL17 will bring us, and I cannot WAIT! If you’re still on the waiting list, keep the faith, and hang in there. If you’ve already received your confirmation, I’LL SEE YOU THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DEB is just one more reason of #WhyILovePhilly.