Review: Picnic of the Year | Dîner en Blanc Nairobi 2016

Remember when I said: “Picture this: you’re seated next to your date, having a delectable, home-made gourmet meal. The music is enticing and you can’t help but bob your head in tune, as you dine under the stars. you look around and all you see is an ocean of like-minded people decked in all-white, all mingling together over a sensational spread. You think to yourself: what an elegant picnic!”

I pictured it, too, except not under a cloudy night, but rather a warm, balmy night under the stars (well, the few you can spot from urban Nairobi!). But instead, the last two weeks of November were rain-filled weeks of terrible traffic and muddy paths. And so, I no longer felt excited for Le Dîner en Blanc, as I was worried the secret location would be muddy and the event would be ruined, especially with my wheelchair.

Fast forward to Saturday, 26 November 2016, I got ready with a heavy heart (and with a last-minute outfit change). I then went to Sarit Centre, our pickup location, with my aunt and uncle at 4 PM. There, we met up with the rest of our group and waited at the main entrance for the DEB volunteers. Other attendees met for drinks at News Café, but there was no official communication as to where to meet inside the mall’s premises.

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Photo | Meera Anuj Shah
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Photo | Meera Anuj Shah

Furthermore, I thought it was odd that there was no official list to verify the attendees, as anyone with an all-white outfit and a picnic basket could easily “crash” the exclusive event. What’s more is that I could not tell where the bus would pick up the guests from. However, this slight disorganization did not deter everyone’s excitement which soon spread to me too.

While everyone piled into the bus at 5 PM with their picnic baskets (Sidebar: the buses surprisingly did not have a booth for the large baskets everyone was carrying – it seemed quite strange to me.), I went in my own wheelchair-accessible car, as there were no disability-friendly transport arrangements. Of course, I only arranged my own transport, after seeking permission from the organizers prior to registering for the event.15156864_931767606954103_7717295641183149026_o15250909_934774286653435_6960380940874641510_oWe followed the bus to the secret location, which was…GARDEN CITY VILLAGE! This was obviously not the venue I had guessed in mind, but at least, I knew I didn’t have to worry about my wheelchair getting stuck in the mud.

But alas, my excitement was short-lived as it had started pouring. So rather than stopping to admire the lovely backdrop for pictures by a balloon arch at the entrance, I had to run roll through to the group of tents, under which long rows of tables were waiting to be decorated. And as the rain poured lightly, everyone scrambled to get their food and table decor arranged, to get the party started.15252754_931768653620665_1860285513938510880_oSoon, the rain stopped, but the water had seeped through the gaps between the tents and had drenched some of the tables and chairs.

The tables were decorated and the food was arranged and everybody was ready to eat! I was excited again as everything looked spectacular. Everyone looked glamorous in all-white, and the event was looking as lavish as I had been told it would be.15272172_931769366953927_5416118763821036068_o15284020_931775026953361_3378739202211064466_n

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Don’t they look stunning? (Photo courtesy of Style Yetu)

diner-en-blancThe emcee started the event and with the customary napkin twirl, dinner officially started.15250692_931769503620580_1115952419674576886_oOur table was full of delicious food. My aunt and her niece had made an incredible menu with and the food was unbelievably delicious. My mouth waters as I think about it, and I apologize for all the hunger you will feel while reading the following menu.

Appetizers:

  • Breadsticks
  • Watermelon, mint and feta salad
  • Olive and feta mix
  • Chicken cutlets
  • Crackers with a variety of hummus (beetroot, blueberry, turmeric and avocado flavors) and salsa
  • Mini cheese pastries.
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    Photo | Nikita Shah
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    Photo | Nikita Shah

    Entrée:

  • Cheese fondue with dippers: mushrooms, baby potatoes, cubed bread, broccoli and baby corn
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    Photo | Nikita Shah

    Dessert:

  • Berry bowl
  • Chocolate-covered fruit skewers
  • Mixed nut bowls
  • And the best of all, zucchini chocolate brownies with coffee caramel

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    👅

Probably gonna need to eat some cake donuts just to calm those hunger pangs, now yeah?

Each couple got a free bottle of JP Chenet Ice Edition sparkling wine, courtesy of Slater & Whittaker. And Michelle Slater, the General Manager of Eat Out Kenya and Sheila Rabala of Rabala’s Delights, went around tasting everyone’s food, while Annabel Onyango, a fashion guru, and Silvia Njoki, a fashion blogger, judged the best dressed. Remember, there were many prizes to be won, including the grand prize of the Celebrity Cruise.

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The ever-classy Annabel Onyango!
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Andanje Chibole and her husband, who won the 7-day Celebrity Cruise to any destination, courtesy of Holiday Bazaar

I really wanted to go around like most guests, to see who made what food, and who decorated the best table, but the tables were arranged too close to each other, and I didn’t have enough space to go around then, though I managed to see a few of the tables, and I could see the hard work people had put into their food menus and the beautiful table decorations.15271815_931770596953804_8436633492799121109_oWhile we fine-wined and dined, Dela sang her hits, including her famous Swahili cover of Adele’s Hello! Soon, everyone ended up on the dance floor, and we even got sparklers, which, for me, brought back so many childhood Diwali memories.15250942_931775593619971_8009350005347778782_o15326094_934759683321562_2103834473665694492_oWe even filmed the popular Mannequin Challenge! https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Ffavierphotography%2Fvideos%2F1293288164077842%2F&show_text=0&width=560

Since I was tired by 10 PM, we left then, but I hear the party continued on till midnight and then there was the after party.

Overall, I thought Le Dîner en Blanc Nairobi 2016 was a great, fun-filled, lavish event, though I thought that the ticket prices were too high, considering the time and effort guests spent on outfit, food, and decorations. I also heard a few complaints about the lack of running water in the portable toilets, which sounded a tad bit disappointing. But, it is those once-in-a-lifetime events that I think you should give a go for the unique experience, so look out for Le Dîner en Blanc Nairobi 2017!


Photos, unless otherwise noted, are courtesy of Le Dîner en Blanc Nairobi and Favier Photography.

My ticket was complimentary, but all views and opinions are my own.

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