ARISTOCRATIC PICNIC
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“I’ll pick you up around 9 a.m.”  My good friend Stephen McPherson dosn’t lie. At 9 on the dot, the gravel in the courtyard of our house was crunching as he parked his Land Rover. I threw my fishing gear in the trunk and we hit the road.

I should mention that the Stephen in question was an old friend whom I met on a Scottish loch not far from his family house which is a sort of castle without ghosts, built in a severe style of gray stone.

He had just inherited a colossal fortune from his parents who had invested in diamond mines in the Transvaal. Contrary to the legend and other platitudes, this Scotsman was of a generosity without equal, as you will see.

After we had driven along the mountain roads for a good hour Stephen took a dirt path on our left and his Land Rover rolled along easily to the edge of a little river of which I promised to never reveal the name.

“Isn’t this beautiful?” intoned Stephen with his delicious scottish brogue.

I have to confess that the place was a kind of paradise that one only sees in those dumb documentaries like “It’s a beautiful world”. You only sort-of believe it; you think that it’s rigged somehow… a kind of God playing with PhotoShop who invented this dashed place where we found ourselves.

And so we started to fish in this picture postcard but the above mentioned God could have made a greater effort and put a few more fish in the river, for we only got two or three skinny chubs.

Suddenly, there was a mysterious sound…

“What was that?”

“Nothing to worry about Fleche, in my fishing vest I have an alarm… it’s to tell us that it’s noon and that it’s time to have lunch.”

Stephen McPherson never ceased to surprise me. Out of his car he pulled a willow picnic basket that was like a big suitcase; it contained, among other things, a white linen tablecloth that I helped to spread on the grass. There followed “Limoge” plates decorated with naive fishing scenes, silverware, crystal glasses and monogramed napkins with his family crest.

“Please be seated Fleche and get ready because Chastity, my adorable wife has concocted a little feast that should delight our taste buds.”

You can believe that I didn’t hesitate when Stephen pulled out of one of his baskets a “Creme safranee aux Saint-Jacques et Langoustines” (Sea-scallops with giant prawns in saffron cream) accompanied by a white wine “Clos du Baille 2004″.  It was the first time that I ate coquilles Saint-Jacques raw and I have to say that the saffron sauce rendered them succulent. Later Stephen pulled out a second basket with a plate of “foie gras aux truffes et au porto” (paté with truffles and porto) on slices of bread brioché and a bottle of “Esta Reserva Organico” that rendered everything even more marvelous .

As for the “Bar, zestes d’orange a la sauce au champagne” (Sea bass and orange zest in champagne sauce) our rendezvous had a  finesse and elegance to a degree that, not to mention dessert of “Poire au miel d’acacia et Sauternes” (Pears with locust honey bathed in Sauterne) I totally lost it.

The sun between the branches had us blinking to the point that a good siesta accompanied by the bird song beneath the trees was a necessary saving grace.

When we awoke it was past 7 p.m. Our siesta was longer than we expected but wonderful. A marvelous siesta! ( And I really know quality siestas, believe me!)

When I got home my glorious wife was waiting, I had only one desire… it was to caresses her, to cover her with the most forceful but tender caresses ( I had to convince my little dog who wanted to participate in our lovemaking with a few kicks, that it was improper and I had to slam the bedroom door on his muzzle).

What a wonderful day of fishing!