In high Summer it is great fun to pack up a picnic and head off to an isolated spot of countryside, preferably not too far from a body of water, and busy oneself doing as little as possible. Perhaps some light reading – I highly recommend David Bell's wonderfully concise biography of Napoleon not least for its brevity. Apparently the First Consul's favourite field dish was potato with onions but I think salmon (poached or oven baked) is an ideal picnic food. It works very well served at ambient temperature with mayonnaise and a cucumber salad and perhaps some lemon couscous for carbohydrate accompaniment. Wine wise I'd be drawn to an aromatic, coral pink rosé such as our esoteric Irouléguy from Domaine Ilaria.
Cheese is a readily portable and, provided it doesn't get too warm, ideal al fresco comestible and I'd be tempted to put together a small selection – aged Manchego, Brie de Maux, Godminster Cheddar and perhaps some Roquefort along with some Bath Oliver biscuits and home-made 'Old Dowerhouse' chutney should do the trick. At this juncture perhaps one could segue on to a lightly-chilled red. The cool climate Cabernets from the Loire are hard to resist in the terrific 2014 vintage – this month's 'Vieilles Vignes' bottling of Saumur Champigny from Domaine Filliatreau would be ideal.
My choice of pudding would be entirely dependent on whether I am designated driver. If I am then I will forgo further booze and just serve watermelon – the most refreshing of gourds but if I'm not then I'd opt for Eton Mess. This amalgamation of broken meringue, fresh, whipped cream and strawberries is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser and is delicious served alongside a small, chilled glass of Coteaux du Layon.