A few weeks ago, I got a Facebook invite to Des Moines FlashDine III, and was intrigued. The instructions were to wear white, have white table linens, and come dine, BYO everything, at a location to be announced the day before the event. The event photo was from a previous event at the downtown sculpture park, and it looked like people were having fun.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t even look further into the tagline “A local take on Diner en Blanc,” but you could get lost in the beautiful photos on the international website for that event. People in white, dining at beautiful sites around the world, holding white sparklers to the night sky afterward. The whole effect is so lovely, it would have made my decision to go so much easier.
We’d spent most of the day Sunday cleaning house, as the Hatton House bedrooms have never really been put right, and with a Labor Day paint sale going on, I wanted to purge n’ paint my weekend away. We’d pretty much abandoned the idea to go FlashDining when I got a Facebook message from one of our friends that they were going, and they were bringing their boys our son’s age. Now it seemed silly NOT to go. We should take a break, go do something cool, not spend the weekend slaving away in 6 year old debris.
Now, what to bring. A quick search of Twitter showed a few ideas of food that would serve well at room temperature, so I thought about what we had in abundance: eggs and tomatoes, and dug into the fridge to find swiss cheese, goat cheese, Balsamic vinegar, and required items to make Gruyere Cheese Ring (or as Doug calls it with plain Swiss “Cheese Ring for the Proletariat” and tomatoes with goat cheese and balsamic vinegar. Not too bad for 40 minutes notice!
The event was gorgeous. People brought out beautiful meals and table decorations, creating linked bubbles of intimate dinner parties. The heat wave we’ve suffered lately broke, leaving an almost cool night along the river. We ran into friends we haven’t seen lately and listened to music and had conversations while the kids chased each other around the terraced landscaping. It was perfection, lovely and unexpected.
I did a little more digging and found the original importer of Diner en Blanc to Des Moines was Larry Cleverly of Cleverly Farms. Larry has a great following in the local food culture of Des Moines, and he told me he read about Diner en Blanc in Paris and thought, “Let’s do this in DSM.” It was that simple, he said, “I picked a date, put it on my farm page & tweeted about it. The first two years we had it in the Sculpture Park and about 125 people attended.” This year, thanks to some publicity help from a few friends, he was able to get it more widely publicized, but hopes the event will continue to grow organically. He pointed out that, to his knowledge, the 2011 FlashdineDSM was the first such event outside of Paris, because, y’know…that’s how things tend to spread…Paris–> Des Moines. Oh, how I love this city!
You can follow FlashDineDSM on Twitter, and try to catch the FlashDineDSM IV. We’ve been kicking around the idea to do a monthly dinner club of some sort here at the Hatton House. An event to keep pushing us to complete projects to show off, and to share our home with Des Moines. We had so much fun flashdining, we may have to push ourselves to get the dinner club off the ground here at the Hatton House, only with maybe a little more than 40 minutes to cook next time! If nothing else, look for FlashDineDSM IV sometime next Summer!