On Saturday evening, thousands of diners clad in white from head to toe will descend on a yet-undisclosed location in the D.C. area for the annual fête known as Diner en Blanc. The rules are as long as the waiting list: you must arrive with a guest, as well as a square folding table between 28 and 34 inches and two white chairs, a white picnic basket or bag including a gourmet meal for two, a white tablecloth and white napkins, cutlery, dishware and glassware and a garbage bag to discard your trash at the end.
But for devotees who can get past all the red (um, white) tape, it’s a memorable night. Seeing long tables with thousands of guests dressed to the nines in white (read: white, not ivory, not off-white, cautions the official website) is an Instagrammer’s dream. And who doesn’t want to sip Champagne al fresco on a warm summer evening while looking fancy in your feathered fascinator?
If you are still looking for the perfect dinner-to-go to tote to the event, don’t fret. The chefs from the Sofitel Montreal Golden Mile, who prepared a picnic for VIP and media guests at that city’s event last week, also shared some tips for making sure your food and drinks stay fresh on a hot August night:
- Do not pack dishes with eggs, cream, raw meat or fish as these ingredients won’t support the heat very well.
- Make sure to eat your picnic no later than two hours after you pack it.
- All your ingredients and snacks need to be cold before packing them. If not, condensation will form in your basket or bag and soften all your bread, crackers or sandwiches.
- Use cold bottles of water to keep your picnic chilled. (Remember, if you are planning on drinking wine or Champagne that evening, you must order it from the Diner en Blanc website.)
Here are some spots around town offering fab meals to go:
The Daily Dish
The Silver Spring’s "Summer Picnic" for two (or four) includes watermelon gazpacho, pimento cheese deviled eggs, buttermilk fried chicken, pulled pork and bbq sauce, corn pesto, coleslaw and brownies. It costs $50 for two people, including disposable plates and flatware. Order at least a day ahead by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cork Wine Bar & Market
The 14th street restaurant and market offers two pre-packaged picnic spreads for two featuring a choice of either fried chicken or gourmet sandwiches, along with sides and desserts. Order at least a day in advance by emailing email@example.com.
Each Peach Market
The "Picnic Pack" for two ($40) includes a bottle of Rosé (save it for another time), St. Andre Triple Crème cheese, a baguette, Molinari finocchiona salami and a choice of any three Each Peach salads. Order by calling 202-525-1725.
The "Brown Bag Lunch" lets guests select one option from each column of appetizers (Bavarian pretzel, navy bean soup, roasted beet soup, Owen’s tavern salad, arugula and fennel salad or Caesar salad) and entrees (Owen’s chicken wings, crispy shrimp sliders, 1/4 lb. Angus burger, 1/4 lb. turkey burger, roasted portobello burger, fried chicken sandwich or barbecue chicken flatbread). The cost is $16 per person; add a soft drink or sweet tea for $1 extra. Order by calling 301.245.1226.
Feast in a Basket
An ultra gourmet basket for two people ($225 plus tax) includes choice of appetizer (bruschetta with crostini, antipasto skewers, fresh fruit and berry plate or watermelon, feta and mint skewers), a salad (Caesar, black bean and corn, pasta, house or tomato and asparagus), entree (beef tenderloin, grilled lemon-dill salmon, grilled herbed chicken breast, spicy shrimp with mango salsa, Chesapeake crab cakes, creole spice-rubbed flank steak or buttermilk fried chicken) and choice of dessert (bread pudding with caramel sauce, pineapple upside down cake, pound cake with berries, berries and cream or fruit salad), along with bread, mini rolls and cornbread. Order at least 72 hours in advance by calling 202.248.0864 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For an extra $25, they will deliver it to your door.