Howard Croft column: You get what you pay for – including ice cream

The party conversation turned to the excellence of the ice cream from Groovy Moo at Talbot Yard in Malton.

The party conversation turned to the excellence of the ice cream from Groovy Moo at Talbot Yard in Malton.

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I attended a very pleasant lunch recently, on the occasion of a friend’s 80th birthday, during which the conversation turned to the excellence of the ice cream on offer from Groovy Moo at Talbot Yard (this was a gathering of deep intellectuals). Judging by the long queues outside their premises, I am not alone in admiring their product and certainly there was plenty of encouraging comment around the lunch table about quality.

However, there was some muttering about price. What was interesting was that we were drinking some decent red wine that must have cost our host a good bit more per bottle than some Algerian plonk readily available in the supermarket for £4.99. The plonk, if provided at lunch, would have offended the palates around the table; they would have thought, but they would not have said, you get what you pay for.

Just so. But why not apply the same reasoning to ice cream? Good quality boutique ice cream costs more to make than the emulsified, mass produced rubbish you find in the freezers in supermarkets, but you have to pay a few bob more. If you can’t afford it, fair enough, you unfortunately must settle for what you can afford. I don’t complain that the price of a Bentley Continental motor car is considerably higher than the fourth-hand Morris Traveller I make do with. She’s a lovely little runner, but a Bentley she is not.

As chance would have it, a few days after the lunch Mrs Croft and I were surprised by a request from granddaughter Maggie for chocolate ice cream for dessert, though why we should have been surprised I cannot think. There was none in the house, Groovy Moo was closed, so Morrison’s it had to be. She refused to eat it. Got some good stuff the next day and she vacuumed it up like a top-of-the range Dyson. Proves my point, I think, to those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Speaking of boutique products, you will be familiar with Mennell’s in St Michael’s Street Malton – high class chocolatier extraordinaire. If not, get in there and fill your boots. How she finds the time to make chocolate when she’s running about in a break down truck, picking up conked out cars I can’t imagine, but I’m glad she does. The only place of similar quality in the region is Croft’s (no relation) in Scarborough, situated in Newborough, the dodgy end.

Also in Scarborough, which I have been exploring, is a tiny independent bookshop and café (Wardle & Jones) in Bar Street where you can sit in comfort, enjoy a coffee and a slice of cake and take your time choosing a book – or just enjoy the coffee. It was in there that I spotted, much to my surprise, not one, but three copies of my own book. The proprietor, without too much difficulty, persuaded me to sign them. Somehow this made me feel obliged to buy a book, which although quickly chosen turned out to be the best I have read this year, by an author of whom I had not previously heard. Dogs are welcome.

Independent bookshops, where the bookseller is knowledgeable about books generally and the stock on the shelves, are increasingly rare thanks to the efforts of Amazon. I have made a return visit, this time with Mrs Croft and our well-mannered dog Tessy. When we arrived, we were the only customers, but another couple arrived shortly afterwards and we were treated to a display of behaviour so ill-mannered that even Tessy looked shocked.

These two made enquiries of the bookseller about Scarborough history and she recommended one from her “local interest” section. They found there what they wanted and spent about twenty minutes studying it and making admiring comments. As they left, the husband (if that is what he was) told his wife to return the book to the shelf saying in a voice loud enough for all to hear, “We can get it on the internet”.

We expressed our disgust to the bookseller (once they had gone – one doesn’t like to be rude) and she told us that she frequently gets “customers” in who use their mobile phones to photograph covers of books and then leave, presumably to email an order to Amazon. As my mother used to say, it’s not manners.