We are love, love, loving costume jewellery this season. Welcome to our new friend Pieter Louis Erasmus from St Erasmus who is all about crystals, sparkle and colour. He was born in Pretoria, is based in London, has a degree in fine art and painting but we particularly love that he has worked on one off pieces for runway shows for Dries van Noten, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy and Matthew Williamson. This is a man who knows his fashion onions. But maybe his art background chimed with us because we have got a little carried away with 18th century French and English portrait engravings. How good does Lady George Freeman look in the Pink Bauble Pendant? And we love the Duchesse de Berry in the Crystal Drops. And Marie Antoinette has bagged the blingiest for herself. Check her out in the Crystal Choker.
In pursuit of all things nostalgic and decadent this season, we’re delighted to welcome one of Paris’s oldest confectioners to The Hambledon for AW17. Maison Boissier was founded by Bélissaire Boissier in 1827 to the delight of the ladies of Paris's high society and its reputation has endured for nearly two centuries since.
The first Boissier counter was located on the Boulevard des Capucines, but at that time good society was beginning to take quarters on the outskirts of the Place de l'Etoile and so the wise decision was hence made to open a ‘Boissier’ on four of Paris’ greatest streets - Champs-Elysees, Boulevard de Courcelles, Avenue Raymond Poincaré and Avenue Victor Hugo; counters before which one could stop his carriage to stock up on sweets. Paris’ high society clearly had a sweet tooth because Boissier soon became the confectioner of choice, wowing them with his fine creations.
The ingenouis confectioner is in fact responsible for inventing the famous ‘bonbon boule’ (favoured in his day by Victor Hugo himself), as well as developing the original recipe for glazing chestnuts (marron glacé) and delicately scented wafer-thin chocolate petals; the much-guarded recipes and artisan traditions of the company, as well as its beautiful branding and packaging, deliberately and lovingly preserved today. Here at The Hambledon we’re stocking the ever so delicate chocolate fruit petals, the original marron glacés, boxes of caramels and pretty tins of tiny fruit candies; all beautifully wrapped and almost too good to eat.
Easter isn’t egg-shaped here. Instead we’re focusing on the best quality chocolate we can get our hands on, serious artisan bars through to fun flavour combos. Here’s a tempting and timely round-up of our current confectionery scene.
OCELOT: New for spring, this is the eye-catcher of the pack. The pretty packaging is just the start though; gorgeous flavour combos, great quality and a commitment to sustainable, organic and fair-trade production pack substance. Founded by a married couple of former chefs from Edinburgh, Ocelot’s chocolate comes from Peru and the Eastern Congo, where the farmers and environment are cared for as much as the produce. Bee Pollen and Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla, Porcelana with Salted Almonds; we’re struggling to narrow down a favourite.
LAND: Another new arrival. Slightly more serious in tone, this is chocolate for connoisseurs, created by Phil Landers, a former BBC Radio production employee turned master chocolatier. The transformation took four years, a lot of time spent in south and central America learning about harvesting, fermentation and new cacao varieties, and a stint back in London training as a chef. This is his resulting collection of single origin and single bean bars, and they are very, very good. Our taste buds may be in training, but we can definitely detect the strong floral tones and underlying berry notes in the Nicaragua Dark. And we’re certainly growing very accustomed to Venezuelan Milk, which develops into a stronger fudge flavour and ends with a slight nuttyness. This is where it’s at, chocolate enthusiasts.
CREIGHTON'S: Our fondness for Creighton’s and their chocolate granny gnashers shows no sign of waning. This small, family-run business, is headed up by mother and daughter team, Andrea and Lucy, who are just lovely and know how to have fun in the serious world of artisan chocolate. Their new spring collection of breakfast bars has just arrived, and we’re seriously wondering if we can get away with meal replacement. Coffee and crumbs, a spoonful of cereal and maple and bacon, surely a fine way to proceed any day.
March 26th is fast approaching. And we have everything you need to show your everlasting love and appreciation for the best woman in the world. Happy Mother's Day all you mums.