Welcome to the seventh installment of Picnic Basket Banter, a weekly series profiling Philadelphians who are participating in Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia. This series puts volunteers and attendees of Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia into the spotlight, asking a series of questions about their ideal picnic, favorite places in our amazing city and, of course, what they will be packing in their picnic baskets. Today we are highlighting Alain Blanchon, a wine enthusiast and distributor who has been promoting French wines in the U.S. since 1975.
Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: What is your favorite spot to picnic in Philadelphia?
Alain: Fairmount Park
DEB PHL: What’s your perfect picnic beverage?
Alain: A nice dry cotes de Provence rose
DEB PHL: Who would be the most interesting person (famous or historical figure) you’d like to share a picnic with- living or dead ?
Alain: Paul McCartney, because of my passion for music and his accomplishments.
DEB PHL: Do you have a favorite picnic memory?
Alain: In Juan Les pins with my family.
DEB PHL: What will be on your Diner en Blanc menu? Do you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share?
Alain: I like simple things, nothing impressive but needs to be fresh, cool , tasty and fun: I would start with a cantaloupe, cucumber, tomato vinaigrette salad, followed by a roast beef and Brie on French baguette. Ending with berries – strawberries, blueberries, blackberries with lemon/sugar.
DEB PHL:If you needed to put together a picnic basket for two in less than 30 minutes, what would you make/buy?
Alain: I would make a cold salad with grape tomatoes, cucumbers and cantaloupe, along with an assortment of goat cheeses, cold cuts, grapes and French bread.
DEB PHL: What non-food items are always included in your picnic basket?
Alain: Wine glasses, corkscrew, “une bonne bouteille”, silverware, napkins, table cloth, plates, a trash bag, a blanket.
DEB PHL: If you were planning the first Diner en Blanc event in Philadelphia what would be your outdoor public space of choice be?
Alain: Closing the entire Ben Franklin Parkway, which to me represents the distinct character and beauty of Center City Philadelphia.
DEB PHL: What do you plan to wear and what will be the hardest part about putting together your Diner en Blanc outfit?
Alain: A white shirt, with a pair of white pants… I don’t know about white shoes though!!
DEB PHL: How long have you lived in the Philadelphia area?
Alain: Since 1989… 23 years
DEB PHL: What’s your favorite thing about Philadelphia?
Alain: Philadelphia has a great history and a lot of charm; it offers a unique blend of a modern city with a European/old world feel.
DEB PHL: What is your favorite restaurant in Philadelphia?
Alain: I love Amada
DEB PHL: If you were to plan “the perfect day” of things to do for someone who was visiting Philadelphia for the first time, what would their day look like from start to finish?
Alain: Breakfast at the Four Seasons, then a visit to the Constitution Center, then Independence Hall. Then lunch at the Reading Terminal Market. Then a visit to the Art Museum, a visit to the Barnes Foundation and then some shopping at Liberty Place. Ending the day with a fine dinner at Bibou.
Alain’s Wine Selection for Diner en Blanc:
1. Louis de Sacy Grand Cru, Brut Champagne
2. Château Lauriol Cotes de Franc, 2009 (merlot based blend from the right bank of Bordeaux)
3. Château Larose-Trintaudon Haut Medoc, 2006 (cabernet sauvignon based blend from the left bank of Bordeaux)
4. Domaine de Panisse Chateauneuf-du-Pape Confidence Vigneronne 2009 (a blend of grenache and syrah grapes from the southern Rhone Valley region)
5. La Vigne D Argent, Bordeaux Blanc 2010 (a blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon grapes; dry and crisp; great summer wine!)