Everyone loves picnics but, really, how often do we go on one? Not nearly enough, tho, when on vacation and you find yourselves spending over $100.00 every night for dinner for two, one finds ways to cut back. That said the four of us, Stephen and Selene, Jimmy and I, established picnics on countless sunny lawns many vacations ago. Picnics are just wonderful! Not only does one save beaucoup €’s but you’re also creating delightful memories. Lunches in restaurants can be quickly forgotten but a picnic? Well! It’s almost always an adventure! Here are some tips that will almost guarantee your pique-nique abroad to be a crazy success! Before leaving Stateside pack several pocketknives and corkscrews in your checked luggage. If in France and you need to buy some, Laguiole is the brand you want. They make a super efficient product and are incredibly handsome. And you’ll use them at home. You’ll need them for saucisson, cheeses and fruit. Walking about the town of Arromanches-les-Bains, Selene and I found the French version of Home Goods and popped in. Four lovely, etched wine glasses later we had our future lunches and wine hours well set and we spent only 2€ per stem. As we were driving through the outskirts of the town of Bessin we spotted the Gallic equivalent of our super WalMart. (I’ve never been in a super Walmart, however, this is how I envision it but just loaded with a bunch of crap from China.) Holy Moly! They had huge flat screen television sets alongside cases of wine in gorgeous, wooden boxes next to Hello Kitty bath mats and pocket calculators. Kind of weird but that was all incidental to me. I was focused on the food end and was NOT disappointed. Loaves of country bread were out and HOT from the oven. We grabbed one and threw it in the basket, we meaning Selene and I. Head after ruffly head of soft, green, butter lettuce peeked through wooden, stand-up display cases. A crisp bunch of brilliant pink and white baby radishes sashayed straight into my basket. Not only would they add crunch to our mid-day repast but they would look good, too. And those radishes knew it! Crunchy apples and pears would round out out the meal and fruit would be easy to carry. We made our way to the cheese and prepared meats case. O.M.G. is all I can say. Påté after påté, terrine after terrine. Small rounds and pyramids of artisanal cheeses rested on freshly cut hay and richly colored Autumn leaves. And they just went on forever each boasting a more gorgeous, elaborate label than the previous. All this, in their version of WalMart. Boy, do we here in the US have a lot to learn! We chose several cheeses using the same method of choice that I use for wine. The label. The prettier more elaborate, the sooner it will find itself rolling around the bottom of my basket. I picked out a few cheeses and saucisson while Selene chose a few bottles of LOCAL wine. I also asked that the saucisson be sliced…way easier than wrestling with it on grass. We picked up a case of water and a roll of paper towels. And I think we were all set.
We hit the road, the long drive to Saint Emilion ahead with only our picnic to break up the trip. Oh, wait!! I almost forgot!! Selene also made a stop on the CHOCOLATE AISLE…we decided on chocolate with hazelnuts. 🙂 Hours later we stopped in the medieval town Fougeres, (grave accent over the first e but I can’t find it on my keyboard), finding the PERFECT picnic spot. Sunny day, castle, moat and a couple of vacant tables. Heaven!! We set up and jumped in. Good Lord, food never tasted so good!! I poured some of the bottled water over the lettuce to rinse off the dirt. Selene opened the wine and poured.
What a memory!! And what a perfect day! A few locals strolled by and called out their wishes so sweetly, “Bon appetit!” And we did. After cleaning up our mess we each took our photos and peaked into the ancient church across the street.
I lit my candle for my peeps, said my small prayer and we were on our way!