A few days ago I was in England for a Port and Douro wine tasting in The Square & Compasses, an old pub located in Fuller Street, in Fairstead, Essex. Fuller Street is a very small village, with under 50 people, where everybody knows each other and where life is relaxed and very enjoyable. The village is very old, the pub itself is from 1652. It’s actually the nicest pub I’ve ever been at, not surprising voted as Food Pub of the Year 2010-2011 for Chelmsford and Mid-Essex.
Victor Room, owner of the pub, organized a delicious dinner for 60 people who had the chance to taste three of our Ports and Oscar’s 2008, our red wine. If the origin of the drinks where Portuguese, the origin of the food was obviously local, with special emphasis on game from the farm shoot of the village. Pigeon, partridge and pheasant are the main birds grown in this farm.
But lets go to another thing I’d like to share with you. On the menu card designed for this special tasting, there was a sentence that caught my attention: “Proud to be local.” What does this mean? I thought to myself. Maybe it says that The Squares & Compasses likes to be located in a small community, in the countryside, where its natives are like family and where everybody is available to give a hand when necessary. It means that Victor relies on the community to live, while the community finds in the pub the place where they can go for a beer after work or for dinner when they don’t want to cook at home.
I feel I’m local too. I belong to the Douro, more specifically to the small town of S. João da Pesqueira. But in spite of having a beautiful landscape, we are deprived of may other things. For instance, we don’t have the cultural offer that other Portuguese who live in Porto or Lisbon have. But we can always go from time to time to the big cities and get from there what we need. That’s probably what the people from Fuller Street do when want something from London, which is 1h30m away.
In a time where more and more people are migrating to cities, we can’t forget to help local communities to survive. We need to support local business, as local people need these businesses too. Otherwise, when we go to the rural areas in the countryside nobody will be there to give us a smile! And I’m sure if you visited it, you wouldn’t forget the breakfast at The Square & Compasses!
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