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An Evening…Alfresco

4 Oct

Are you one of those people that when you discover something new and exciting, you just want to tell everyone?! No? Well, I am a total blabber-mouth and I love telling people about new things that I have uncovered so here we go!

With a combination of interesting people and exciting events, Vancouver is a constant inspiration to me. I went to an event on Saturday night that reminded me of why I am so excited (and proud!) to live in this amazing city. This particular event was called “Alfresco” and the concept is an interesting, yet simple, one. Strangers meet up, in flash mob style, at an outdoor public space with the intention of meeting new friends and sharing a potluck dinner together. It has been described as “spontaneous outdoor dining rooms” – quite accurate, I think.

Here are the important details:

* The location is always outside (hence the name “Alfresco”).

* The location is always a public space (think the seawall, a park or a garden).

* As is typical for flash mob events, the location is only communicated the day before the event to retain an element of surprise.

* Meals are potluck style and are intended to be shared amongst other guests.

* Pairs are asked to prepare one dish, which can be an appetizer, entrée or dessert.

* It is free to attend but you do have to be on the mailing list in order to reserve tickets.

On Saturday night more than 100 of us, with home-made dishes in hand, descended upon the community garden at the corner of Davie and Burrard Streets and found a seat at one of the long tables that snaked its way through bountiful vegetable patches. Candles, placed throughout the garden, and a live band that hummed gentle tunes, not only provided a beautiful setting but created a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Food wise, most people seemed to bring entrées and so my plate was piled high with bits of this and bits of that. There was plenty of food and at one point our table turned into a conveyor belt of exotic dishes. We were constantly accepting, serving and passing on new dishes. But waste not, want not! All leftover food was put into take-out boxes which were then distributed to the needy. Local food is encouraged, as is no waste.

The format of the evening was very casual. The event kicked off at around 5.30pm, there were some quick speeches before dinner commenced at about 6.45pm. From that point on it was as simple as mingling and eating. People were getting to know each other, kids were enjoying new foods and food was being shared amongst tables. All in all “Alfresco” had a very relaxed vibe about it.

The numbers of attendees to the “Alfresco” dinners has increased dramatically – from 40 people at the first event to well over 100 at the last event – and I think this shows that people are craving community events such as this. Pairing food and socializing together, with the added element of “green” living seems to appeal to Vancouverites. And with Vancouver providing such a stunning backdrop, who wouldn’t jump at a chance to be outside to soak it all in every once in a while?

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