*This post is part of a Diner En Blanc series! Check out the rest of the series here*
Yesterday, I attended Houston’s Diner En Blanc 2016. Just like last year, I complained all the way up until the event, but once the tables were sat and the napkin wave began I was again in love with this event!Someone is probably thinking, DANG she’s writing about that event again?! I apologize in advance, but for whatever reason my views tell me that people love reading about Diner En Blanc SO I am just here to give the people what they want :). Here is my event run down for Diner En Blanc 2016!
If you recall, in my last post I was at a loss for what I would decorate my table with, but I knew that it had to be better than last year. I hit up Tuesday Morning, the Dollar Tree, Homegoods and some neighborhood boutiques looking for ideas. Here is my rule, if I cannot use it for more than Diner En Blanc, I am not buying it! At my first spot, I found a gorgeous white cake plate that I knew I would use a million times over. This sparked my VISION, as my sister says. I am food blogger. Why not let my table decorations center around food?! With that in mind off I went.
My next biggest haul came from Tuesday Morning. That place was a god send! I found some heavier plastic plates that you can reuse and are light making for easy transport! I grabbed a couple of charger plates for like 3 bucks each to add a dash of fancy and then some napkin rings to really set it off. Then I picked up two plastic wine glasses to minimize the amount of glass I had to carry with me.
Next I had an idea to do some branding at my table, so I bought a chalkboard meat and cheese plate from Whole Foods for about 12 bucks! That was probably the cheapest thing I have ever purchased from Whole Foods! Anywho, I wrote out Black Girls Who Brunch at my table for passer bys and pictures. Genius, I know hahahaha!
This year I had time to do some pillaging through my own cabinets and there also was no prohibition on glass. I found a tall mason jar that I received as a gift from a recent foodie event and threw some white hydrangeas from Trader Joes in that. I also had a empty bottle which once housed some cheap HEB wine. Well it came with a top and I always knew I would reuse it for water or lemonade one day! Today was the day! Finally, I grabbed a my silverware, square white bowl and a white glass pyrex bowl to display my food.
Long story short, I thought I purchased pre-packaged food from the hosts, but the morning of the event I could not find a receipt or proof that on my cards were charged. Thankfully, I caught this mistake early enough for me to pick up some food myself. Sadly this meant no wine (more on that later). I set out to find a meal that featured courses and would make for great pictures. My food stops were Trader Joes, Whole Foods and Dessert Gallery!
Trader Joes is so budget friendly, so I always start there and get what I can. I fill in the rest at their pricier neighbor, Whole Foods. At Trader Joes, we grabbed meat, cheeses, fruits, lemonade, salad and water. Sounds like a lot, but we knew we needed more dishes so we hit up Whole Foods too. There, we bought some crackers, chicken and pasta salad. My sister ordered a stuffed portbello mushroom for her entree. I threw them in the oven right before we left with the hopes that they would be warm by the time we ate. They really were not, but it was worth the try!
Finalllllly, we went to Dessert Gallery my favorite dessert spot! There we grabbed a mini all white cake for our dessert/center piece. My sister tried to advocate for a chocolate cake, but when wearing all white, white food wins! In the end we were stuffed! We would probably cut out some of those foods next year to save on space and money.
The Arrival & Setup
Before heading to the event I packaged all of my crap carefully in a suitcase for easing hauling. We donned our all white, full makeup in 90 degree weather and white clothes and headed to our meet-up location near NRG. There I met my fellow Houston Food Blogger Collective members including blogger Ryan (IG: DatFoodPorn). Ryan was a life saver for me! We negotiated a fair trade for the event. He used my dolly, plates and silverware in exchange for hauling my table and chairs on said dolly. This made the loading and unloading much less stressful than last year.
Once we loaded up on the shuttle bus, we headed to the undisclosed location. As we neared downtown we all began to guess where the event could be. City Hall? Discovery Green again??? Or maybe Minute Maid park?? Sure enough, the street and grassy area outside of Minute Maid park was the location. The street was blocked off allowing for close bus access too. Perfection! The only thing that would have made this better would have been to set up inside the park. We set in our assigned area and began to unload our stuff for setup. Again, I was happy with how I planned stuff this year. Other than my sister being in my way, my set up was perfect and I was ready when the ceremonial napkin wave began!
Dinner and Entertainment
Once we cut the cake and were done eating, the party started. This year there was much better music and live entertainment. There was string quartet playing pop music, a live band that started the evening off and a DJ to close it out. I should note, that this year the crowd was majority black. Black folks LOVE any excuse to dress in white! Well the DJ played to the crowd and smartly went with songs like the Wobble and Frankie Beverly. There was also a photo booth and plenty of great baseball themed backdrops around Minute Maid Park. Just like last year we ubered back to avoid the rush. I highly recommend doing the same.
The short of it is, we had SO much fun!! The planners this year were a New Orleans based group called the Spears Group. No shade to last years group of hosts, but this group planned a seamless event! I made sure to tell one of the main hosts that they needed to come back next year as well!
Quick Tips Before I Go
- Last year I went straight from Trader Joes to the event. Bad idea. Organize your food at home before you go! For example, a box of crackers takes up more space than necessary. Take out one roll, throw it in a zip log back and go.
- Food based centerpieces are easy and functional, but still allow you to be creative.
- I said this last year and it is worth repeating! Ladies go for the white dress over the white linen pants etc, you will feel underdressed compared to the rest of the crowd. The ladies this year legit had on opera dresses and I even saw a guy with a white tuxedo. Again, people especially black folks love any reason to get all dolled up in all white.
- Quadruple check your order in the online store before the deadline or you will end up like me wine less! This years event also did not allow outside wine or liquor. The event hosts scared us with threats about security checking for unauthorized wine and liquor so I did not risk it. I personally did not have my items searched from contraband, but that is a risk for others to take, not me the perpetual rule follower!
- I did not bring a picnic basket and I still think that is a great way to cut costs if you do not have one just laying around. People also took cute baskets and turned them into old school picnic baskets (Like this or this). It was super cute and cost efficient!
- Go with a group! It is more fun that way! This year my group was my HFBC family. These foodies were super creative with their dishes and decorations. Loved seeing what they came up with.
- The smartest thing I did was haul my decorations in a rollaway suitcase. Other smart ways to haul your stuff, a wagon or a flatbed dolly.
- AND I am still on the hunt for a good lightweight table. The rollup camping table did not seem to be sturdy enough for heavy glass decorations, so the search continues.
Until next year :)!