Today we returned to our favourite spot in the Cotswolds so far, Daylesford Organic Farm in Kingham; we had promised ourselves breakfast there. On our first visit last Saturday it was rather crowded and I was hot (a prelude to poorly) and we were newbies and somewhat intimidated. You’ve got to know the lie of the land to feel completely comfortable, haven’t you?
Today it was cool and spacious as customers were few and far between at 10 a.m. so we had plenty of room and selected a table by the window in the sunshine. We proceeded to order up eggs and bacon and Eggs Benedict on toast instead of muffins so it wasn’t called that. How correct. And we both spied, unspoken, the freshly squeezed orange juice and wanted it, but it was £4 a glass.
I am a squeezer of my own fresh orange juice quite regularly and a bag of six or eight large oranges at Ocado will set me back considerably less than that and give me change sufficient to buy a hydrating beverage. But it won’t give me such delicious juice served pronto in taste-enhancing glasses and neither will my juice be that pretty citrussy sun colour.
So although we both balked at the price, we did order it and we were glad we did. I had a conversation with one of our servers, explaining I was a juicer, but mine wasn’t as nice as that and what was his secret. He didn’t know, but he sent over a man who did and he and I proceeded to talk orange juice for longer than is decent or generally acceptable to the initiated.
Oranges are seasonal. Sometimes they are this good and they keep them and serve them and charge us accordingly. And sometimes the quality of produce isn’t up to scratch and they are sent back. No juice on those days, not orange at least. Daylesfords’ produce experts scrutinise everything before they accept delivery and an orange is the only food item which has to be cut into for this test. They can also see by weight as inferior oranges come in larger boxes (not sure I followed the logic of that one, but an expert knows the tricks of the trade apparently on sight).
But as we sat at our peaceful, calm, cool, clean and sunlit breakfast table scoffing our exquisitely prepared nosh and quaffing our expensive luxurious golden juice, we began to look around us at the attention to detail in cleanliness, order, efficiency, staffing levels and training, knowledge and love of the product, pleasantness of attitude to the customer, willingness to please, service skills, spotless uniforms and excellent cooking and by this time £4 a glass was beginning to look cheap. They also practice my very favourite skill in any restaurant…I only have to look up, and someone catches my eye.
You get what you pay for. Sometimes you get more than you pay for and sometimes it’s harder, perhaps, to see the value in what’s on offer until you look deeper at what goes into your liquid sunshine. And in Daylesford-speak, it’s about A Love For Food.
This business doesn’t just hum, it sings.