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.
If you’ve been in store lately you might have spied our homewares department looking particularly sunny in time for spring; loaded with colour and a good measure of kitsch, largely thanks to the arrival of Sun Jellies and their rainbow range of retro plastic baskets.
If they look vaguely familiar and resurface childhood memories then it’s probably little surprise that the bags are indeed an extension of the Sun Jellies brand which started out retailing the original jelly shoe. And we have a lovely lady called Kelly White to thank for bringing jelly bags and shoes back into our lives.
Having moved to Worthing to live the seaside dream with her family she found herself searching unsuccessfully for some jelly shoes to wear on the pebbly beach. It seemed jelly shoes had disappeared and no-one in the UK was selling them. What she did discover though was the story behind the jelly shoe – originally created in 1946 by Frenchman Monsieur Jean Dauphant in response to a worldwide leather shortage - and much to her delight, the classic t-bar fisherman weave design was still being made in France using the original moulds.
So excited to find plastic shoes not made in China, and convinced they could become a wardrobe staple, Kelly made it her mission to bring jelly shoes back, and in the process launched her own range of jelly bags in 2014, recreating classic styles crafted from 100% recyclable PVC. We're stocking the Carnival and Retro baskets, Fiesta shopper and Atomic tote, and finding them all kinds of useful for grocery shopping through to household storage. Thanks Kelly.
Welcome to SS17 at The Hambledon. We’re calling it Miami Nice. Womenswear, menswear, homeware, it’s all feeling a bit ‘80s coming-of-age summer in a good way; endless sun-soaked days, beach loungers and pool parties. Basically, all the fun without the bad hair and shoulder pads.
Saturated pastels, metallics and strong prints feature across the board in Womenswear. Accessorised with turquoise and yellow Nailmatic, a rainbow of plastic baskets by Sun Jellies, and all kinds of ban.do attitude. Meri Meri and Rice flood Homeware with summer colour and everything to get a party started. And the fun and colour carries on down to Menswear too with pastel Ts, shorts and beach accessories. Game of frisbee anyone?
Just as the winter blues were threatening to set in, along come Meri Meri with a delivery stuffed full of fun, colour, new and exciting. Posters, totes, cushions, purses and partyware; cacti, pineapples, rainbows and an extra big YAY! Can always rely on this bunch to brighten our days.
Forget the halls and bows of holly, we're most excited to be decking the counter-back with our latest delivery from calligrapher and letterpress artist, Imogen Owen. We've long loved this lady for her beautiful wispy hand and sweet, funny and sometimes sweary sentiments. Now she's gone and given us packs of notecards, prints and mugs with lots of gold lettering and we're smitten all over again. Pretty much all we want for Christmas please.
It goes without saying that Christmas is a huge deal at The Hambledon and we embrace it heartedly. To the extent that several members of staff have multiple trees to accommodate varying decorative schemes. And they might need one more this year because our Christmas shop is open and it’s more fun, colourful and kitsch than ever before.
The tree is decked with a sparkly, neon-trimmed menagerie: winter hares in velvet collars; racoons carrying tres; birds wearing earmuffs; glittery swans, polar bears, bambis and parrots; dogs from Scotties to corgis, and for cat lovers out there (we hear you!), we're introducing your furry friends encased in beautiful glass globes. We’ve also thrown metallic rainbows, unicorns and pineapples into the mix for good measure.
Cards, wrap, advent calendars, crackers, garlands and balloons come courtesy of Meri Meri so the profusion of glitter, neon and fun continues; the foil balloon garland reading 'jolly' saying it all really. Let the festivities begin.
After many deliveries and much rearranging, we’re pleased to say our AW16 Villa Necchi party is in full swing, celebrating all things opulent, decadent and fun. (Read more about Necchi and our inspiration here.)
We’re setting the table with gold plates, marble coasters and vintage-style champagne saucers. In the centre, coloured glass vases with mauve hydrangeas, pineapple jugs and flamingo s&p shakers, co-ordinating candles and a beautiful bottle of the finest balsamic from Medina.
Recipes for our feast are taken from Florentine, The Italian Baker and Venice Cult Recipes. And after we’ve dined, we’ll be retiring to the drawing room where we’ll be lounging on velvet cushions and throws, sipping from delicate liquor glasses and nibbling on beautifully packaged Leone fruit jellies, amaretti biscuits, nougat and Coco chocolates.
And what are we wearing? Grown-up and ladylike velvet dresses from Mascob, gold jacquard and soft chiffon from Baum und Pferdgarten and tweed suiting, and more chiffon and jacquard from Graumann. For the boys, it’s jacquard tailoring and heavy wool jersey jackets from Barena and the finest Italian knitwear from GRP Firenze.
The venue, Villa Necchi, was purpose-built for partying so it's open house, more the merrier, no need to RSVP.
1. Coloured Glass Vases from £5.95 | 2. Flamingo Salt & Pepper Shakers £16 | 3. Coloured Wine Glasses (coming soon) £6.95 | 4. Marble Cork Coaster Set £8.95 | 5. Porcelain Jug Pineapple £34.95 & Porcelain Jug Parrot £34.95 | 6. Imperfect Gold Plates from £6.95 | 7. Baum Und Pferdgarten AW16 | 8. Stars Champagne Saucer Set £68 | 9. Barena Venezia AW16 | 10. Permanent Botanicals from £3.75 | 11. Blue Candlestick £4 & Set of 6 Short Dinner Candles £2.95 | 12. Set of 2 Gold Cup & Saucer Set £39.95 | 13. Velvet Cushions (coming soon) £24.95 | 14. Italian Balsamic Vinegar from £14.95 | 15. Coloured Wine Glasses (coming soon) £6.95
In the early 30s in Milan, the Necchi family, rich industrialists and makers of sewing machines, commissioned a fabulous deco mansion, purpose built for partying. This is where we will be spending AW16 in spirit, celebrating all things opulent, decadent and fun.
Luxey homewares appear in muted tones and burnished golds; gifts, bath and beauty come beautifully packaged; womenswear features heavy silk blouses and fake fur coats; and in menswear, the finest Italian suiting and knitwear.
Watch this space for more. And if you watch anything else make it I am Love starring Tilda Swinton. Villa Necchi is the beautiful backdrop and Swinton is all time fabulous. More of our crushing over on pinterest here.
Roll up, roll up! Summer is here and our Creighton's Chocolaterie project is in full swing; the ground floor mezzanine decked out in vintage fairground paraphernalia, shelves lined with Creighton's latest collection of circus-inspired confectionery. We asked founder Lucy to name her hero products.
Prize Goldfish: Back to the days when you could win your pet by throwing an oversized ball into a too-small hoop.
Ginger Beer Bar: A chocolate bar laced with the taste of sticky summer days and wrapped in a sleeve inspired by
fairground balloon sellers.
Unicorn Food: A Hambledon exclusive, because unicorns need chocolate too!
Magic Unicorn Lollies: Another one-of-a-kind design made especially for the event, and they look pretty!
Retro Popcorn Bar: Comes in a special retro popcorn bag which is reminiscent of 1950s American movie drive-ins. Also reminds me of the final scene in Grease when they are dancing around the fairground!
Cactus Lolly: When the British summer isn’t quite as hot as it should be, fill your life with cacti and pretend you live in Texas.
Granny Gnashers: Our most loved joke creation.
Glazed Donut: No trip to the fair is complete without an obligatory sugary donut.