We’ve just come back from Chipping Campden where we were celebrating my wife’s birthday without our daughter. I was looking forward to visiting one of those fine dining place where there are enumerable courses, foams and a man with a very strong accent who interrupts you every couple of minutes to explain the concept behind each dish. Sadly I blew the budget on a sweater with a picture of a dog on it (see below) and something called a Balinese Flower Ceremony which involved my wife being massaged with grains of rice and then wrapped in an enormous chapati. Fine dining (best pronounced in a Prime of Miss Jean Brodie accent so it comes out as Feine Daning) was off the menu so it looked like we’d just eat in one of the local pubs. All fine (pronounced normally) but I wanted some really good wine.
Whilst my wife was being baked in a specially-designed tandoori oven, I wandered into Bennetts wine merchant. I was going to do my usual schtick where I engage the shopkeep in a discussion about Burgundy vintages before buying a bottle of £8 Cotes-du-Rhone. Then I had an idea. The sun was shining, the shop sold cheese and I had an old rug in the back of the car. We would have a picnic. What could be more romantic than that? Rather than just talk about Burgundy, I could actually buy some. I even saw the perfect wine to buy, a bottle of Morey St. Denis 09 from Domaine Fourrier. My total bill at the shop including wine, cheese, ham, olives and biscuits came to £50. The wine was much more than I normally spend but compared with Feine Daning and it was like a trip to Nandos.
My wife emerged glowing like a Balinese princess from her treatment and we set off for our picnic. We found a field free from sheep poo and with a view of the church. It was a great success. The cheese – a local thing whose name I forget – was excellent as was the Jamon Serrano. We drank the burgundy out of tumblers borrowed from our hotel. It smelt of dark cherries and cloves with just a hint of poo, or maybe I hadn’t sited our rug as well as I’d previously thought. The taste was earthy, ripe and full of life. Which is just how we felt after our picnic, so much nicer than the gilded ennui of fine dining.