I am excited about next week’s Dîner En Blanc in Toronto. After last year’s less-than-ideal feedback, they were searching for new organizers this year and the event was in jeopardy. A few weeks ago, news began circulating that invitations for this year would be sent out soon and I could not contain my excitement. With my whole kit already assembled, it would be a huge disappointment if this elegant pop-up picnic is a no-go.
Based on last year’s experience, my friends and I have our routine down pat. Each person in our group of four would be responsible for one course so we can maximize on efficiency. I volunteered to contribute dessert this year and I have big plans.
First, let me give you an update of my picnic basket to see some upgrades that I made.
I got myself a smaller, more lightweight basket that is easier to tote around. My new basket already traveled with me previously to Pennsylvania and Chicago on car trips. I have confidence that it will serve me well at Dîner En Blanc. Inside the basket, I comfortably fit in 2 white dinner plates, 2 clear appetizer plates, 4 clear small dessert plates, cutleries, 2 clear wine glasses, 4 napkins, tablecloth, 4 napkin rings, and a pedestal cake plate. It goes without saying that my brilliant way of carrying two folding chairs will make an encore appearance. My lightweight aluminum camping table will also emerge from the basement.
If you look at the first photo carefully, you may notice a tall clear cylindrical container. This is where my ambitious plan comes into play. You see, I am obsessed with making a croquembouche this year. It was originally my contribution to Choux Day but life had other plans. I make extra challenges for myself to not only make this elaborate showpiece dessert from scratch, I will also transport it safely to the secret Dîner En Blanc location.
If you break down the components of croquembouche, they are nothing I haven’t made before. Choux puffs filled with pastry cream glued together with hard caramel? I made them individually many times successfully. The challenge lies in sound architecture that can withstand the jostle of travel. Oh actually it will be my first time making spun sugar too. A croquembouche is not a festive showpiece until it is embraced by an ethereal cloud of gossamer sugar threads. The directions from Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery and Not Quite Nigella’s step-by-step photos ought to guide me in the right direction.
Almost by pure luck, I found this amazing clear plastic container from Rosti Mepal that should house my small croquembouche perfectly. The base is 6 inch in diameter so a standard cake board fits inside with no room to wiggle. Coincidentally, I found a lovely small pedestal cake stand from Pier 1 Imports that can elevate the croquembouche to even more majestic height. If my first croquembouche proves to be a success, I have a feeling that it will become my signature dessert for future potlucks.
As for my outfit, I had it all planned out back in January. Remember the crazy good deals I scored at Fashion Crime for $5 party dresses? The white halter Tivoli dress I picked specifically with Dîner En Blanc in mind. A few weeks later, I returned to the store and bought some accessories to make a complete outfit for myself. Jezebel Mini Tivoli dress $5 (down from $299). Faux fur shrug $30 (down from $89). Lace belt $5 (down from $39). Can you say AMAZING deal? I plan to wear a pair of Fluevog heels to keep my outfit entirely Canadian.
September 17 is coming up real soon. I can’t wait for this special day to arrive!