Last night I went to see Paris Texas on the big outdoor screen in the courtyard of Somerset House. I love these film nights; they’re a great urban summer ritual, as is forgetting to take enough warm clothes and ending up bundled up in several rugs, shivering. Not a very glamorous look.
The friend who invited me was a guest of Bordeaux Wine which meant that, inadvertently, so was I. We took our own picnic and booze though and, by coincidence, because I’d been tasting cabernet blends (as research for Olive magazine) and Fronsac (research for the Telegraph) at home all afternoon I’d filled my runner’s water bottle up with claret. Yes, I did say runner’s water bottle. It has never actually been out on a run and now that it has found its calling as a carrier for wine in places where you’re not allowed to take in a glass bottle, I’m not sure it will ever want to go on one. And why should it.
We ate what we are calling a solera salad because it was made by adding waves of ingredients to a bowl that was never quite emptied. First, cherry tomatoes with olive oil. Then, variously, handfuls of bitter leaves, slices of fig, more tomatoes, torn up fennel salami and dressing made (at home) by marinating juicy slices of Conference pear in olive oil, lemon juice and salt.
After that we filled up on camembert and sourdough.
After that: strawberries. Oh my goodness. HOW GOOD are strawberries with a young, unoaked or barely oaked claret? I had never realised. The sweet-savouryness is glorious. You don’t just want to eat a mouthful of berries then take a sip of wine you want to mix them both together: the strawberries sweet as a kiss, the wine taut almost to the point of sharpness. Very grown-up taste. Very good on picnics, urban or otherwise.