Dîner en Blanc

Let's revisit France, because, well - it was awesome.

As I remember it...Maurine had prepared a wonderful salmon rillette, along with crusty bread and little bite-sized quiches, all of which she tucked away in a picnic basket in the backseat of the Volkswagen. I was in the driver’s seat and we were headed to a “diner en blanc” as invited guests of Kate Hill.  As you remember, Maurine was my gracious host who I lived with in Nerac, a small French town located between Dominique’s farm and Kate’s house at Camont. She was an Arizona native but flourished as a real estate agent in California before retiring to Gascony. Since I had no idea where we were going, we were to follow Bill and Taff, two Canadian expats, who coincidentally had also retired to Gascony.

Starting to see a retirement trend?

After an hour long drive, we began making our way up a massive hill, on top of which, laid an incredible vineyard and chateau owned by two wine-making sisters. As soon as we parked, I realized the view alone was worth the hour long drive.  I also realized that not everyone followed the dress code – there were a few oddballs that didn’t wear all white – um... that would be me. 

 View to the East from atop the hill.

View to the East from atop the hill.

 The Southern view from the hill.

The Southern view from the hill.

 The hilltop view looking to the North over the  grape vines.

The hilltop view looking to the North over the  grape vines.

Sorry, I had been living out of a backpack and a small leather duffel for the past five months. My white linen summer suit was the next outfit on the packing list, but I ran out of space for it in my pack. 
 All the old folks brought out their best whips - it was one hell of a car show!

All the old folks brought out their best whips - it was one hell of a car show!

Other than myself,  everyone else was dressed to the nines in their best white linen.  Some even cruised up in their old classic whips.

 I had to circle back after appetizers for some close up pictures.

I had to circle back after appetizers for some close up pictures.

 Not a shabby backdrop for a French auto show!

Not a shabby backdrop for a French auto show!

Just outside the chateau, was a large motte of shade trees underneath which most of the festivities lay: a makeshift stage harbored a couple of musicians, a small wine stand where the sisters had set up their wares, and tables, ladened with food, wine, and candles.

 Everybody is busy setting up their dining areas and my buddy Dylan is posing for the camera.

Everybody is busy setting up their dining areas and my buddy Dylan is posing for the camera.

 Dylan and I looking like something the cat dragged in.

Dylan and I looking like something the cat dragged in.

 An old pigeonette converted into guest quarters.

An old pigeonette converted into guest quarters.

Kate and more of the expat group had already arrived and had begun setting up our table. I added Maurine's picnic basket to the others just as the two sisters gave a welcome toast from the stage.  The "diner en blanc"  had officially started.  It was so epically French and everything you would imagine it to be:  good friends, great food, old wine, fairytale setting, and fresh white linen.  

 Time to feast!

Time to feast!

 Maurine's salmon.

Maurine's salmon.

 The French version of the potluck dinner.

The French version of the potluck dinner.

 We watched these two couples all night - this seemed to be a regular affair for them.

We watched these two couples all night - this seemed to be a regular affair for them.

It was quite the picturesque evening. The laid back casual elegance of it all was what France does best. I promised myself I would drag all of my Texan friends out to the ranch and do something like this.  

Something tells me, it just won't be like France.