Quality. I think that this word has been so mis-used by the ad-men over the years that its impact has been eroded. I mean in terms of excellence, of being of the greatest grade of goodness. Say “quality wine” for instance, and the picture in my mind is of a ropey bottle of homonogenotrash (can I copyright a word?) at the local branded restaurant. “Quality jewellery”: cheap trash. I don’t think we think enough of, or aspire to, quality anymore. It’s not about the best, it’s about making another ten quid.
Quality is what I’m all about. It’s what makes me tick. I like Musigny. I like meat that tastes of something. I like Krug. I like the Pauillac lamb at Cordeillan-Bages and the vegetables from Mrs Miggins down the road. Sadly I did not work hard enough at school for these. Or at least not to enjoy them on a regular basis.
So. Lunch. If I was in France or Italy, I’m fairly certain that I could find somewhere local to have a decent steak frites, or pig ragu, with a bottle of something natural, for less than a tank of petrol. Try this in England. Try finding something that (a) isn’t pizza and (b) hasn’t come out of the freezer. It doesn’t happen very often. I don’t think we understand. The exceptions are generally pubs: there are a few pubs that still offer individuality: home-cooked food, real beer. But they are increasingly hard to find and, when one does, they are almost invariably a drive away, which can make things difficult.
My current favourite pub in the world is the Princess Victoria, Shepherd’s Bush. An outstanding wine list and quite excellent food. The pork boards really do the job. Ten years ago this was five minutes’ walk from my flat. It’s now 30 miles or so. Can someone please open something similar in Guildford?