Archives for posts with tag: Fortnum and Mason
F&M at the Serpentine Gallery

F&M at the Serpentine Gallery

This week we had a meeting at Fortnum & Mason and it was interesting to hear their development plans.

I have always pondered how the big three London department stores: Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnums, find their place in the battle for the boutique of choice. Under the management of Ewan Venters the food offer at Selfridges was transformed and now he is a year into applying himself to Fortnums so I have no doubt they will flourish in their fortunes.

It seems clear to me the place that Harrods holds in the Knightsbridge arena and Selfridges has really cornered the contemporary edgy design-led market so where does that leave Fortnums? They are the only ones with true British credentials, a traditional, elegant style and a selection of food & drink that really has destination status worldwide. But the challenge is how to take that into the future. In the capable hands of Mr Venters it seems they are paving their way with aplomb.

Take, for example, their current offer at the Serpentine Gallery Pavillion.

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Every year, the space between the gallery and the park is given over to one well known architect to erect a structure of some sort that will house a Summer experience and with the calibre of commissions they get, the Serpentine really do boast a long legacy of amazing artists including Ai WeiWei, Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid. This year, it was Sou Fujimoto, the third Japanese architect and the youngest person so far, who took over the space. It’s one of the few cultural experiences in London that I make a point of visiting each year and so today I ventured down.

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I did of course have another ulterior motive, which was to see the food offer that Fortnums created there. If this is a reflection of where they are going, then all will be well. The team are decked up in a trendy t-shirt and converse trainer uniform which nods to the formality with a waistcoat & tie printed on and the offer is cleverly conceived with easy to serve pre-packed boxes of treats.

Making up our Hamperling

Making up our Hamperling

You can opt for boxes of cakes, sandwiches, salads and other treats, but the hero product is the ‘hamperling‘. This is a hamper on the go created from a clever cardboard construction which opens up to reveal a lunch for one or a plentiful afternoon tea for two combining the best of the boxes, and costing £25. The food was as fresh as a daisy and looked fabulous spread out on the clever place setting. There was even a disposable rug of sorts for us to create a perfect picnic on this lovely Summer day.

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It’s been a funny old week. I can certainly say that this current role of mine at Laverstoke Park Farm is keeping me out of mischief and one of the most varied experiences of my working life.

ice cream sundae

This week we have been contemplating ice cream. We make the most amazing buffalo milk ice cream on the farm. Don’t be put off by the buffalo milk. It may sound strange but actually makes the best ice cream you can buy. Buffalo milk is a wonderful thing. It is more nutritious than other milks with higher proteins, minerals and fats, but lower cholesterol. The higher solids means it is just incredibly creamy and yummy making it a perfect dairy ingredient. And interestingly,  it is also great for people with dairy intolerances. In fact we got the most amazing letter from a customer this week thanking us for making buffalo milk and saving her 13 month old little boy. He suffered the most traumatic time from birth with serious issues that affected his breathing and eating. She was struggling to find a suitable milk to wean him onto after 12 months and has said that buffalo milk has transformed him. Now he is putting on weight and is a “feisty, funny and happy baby”. How amazing.

Chin Chin

Ice cream the Chin Chin way

So back to ice cream. We have been looking at ice cream parlours and the ice cream offer in London. It is interesting to think about who does it well these days. Mostly it is the gelato bars that are dominating the market with great flavours and good product but somehow this doesn’t tick my box in terms of ice cream parlour experience. Then there is Chin Chin Laboratorists. They do the whole liquid nitrogen thing and they do it very well. What I like about this chef turned ice-creamist is that he does 3 flavours only at any one time with a choice of toppings and sauces to complement the flavour. And there is always one off-the-wall flavour that hits the mark such as burnt butter and hot cross bun for Easter or Guinness caramel and smoked salt for St Patrick’s Day. Honestly…he is the best. Just see their facebook page.

PopBar

PopBar

Then there is of course the rise of ice lollies. For me this is equally interesting and something that we will be progressing having taken our inspiration from PopBar in NYC. This is fun, healthy and a great opportunity to do something different.

But if you want to get a classic old British ice cream parlour experience you are struggling. There are of course the seaside specials and Mr Whippy vans but where is the destination parlour for London? I have a few thoughts in mind and am building it up so any thoughts or favourite places you know would be great to hear about.

Later on we were on the 5th floor of Fortnum and Mason for their new Food & Drinks Awards. Dipping into the canapes and Champagne were the pick of food media and celebs all there to celebrate the winners. I couldn’t move for people that I have merely seen on TV, heard on the radio or read about myself. Quite something for this girl from Leeds to be there, surrounded by everyone I have been inspired by over recent years. I know these are the places you are supposed to network at but honestly I was just a little bit in awe.