It’s his passion for the capital’s artisans and his love of food that helped Rob Ford quit his job in the City and turn food entrepreneur. Tilia is an artisan grocery delivery service that brings together established brands and upcoming names from the street food circuit. Ideal for the consumer who is time-poor, not too cash-rich and who has a taste for the finer things in life. The idea was born when Rob moved to Islington and saw some of the great British produce available in London’s ‘villages’ he realised the opportunity to connect producers with all Londoners, not just those who lived nearby. The Tilia website allows shoppers to browse suppliers all over London, add them to a virtual basket and have them delivered to their kitchen door.
What’s impressive is the brands he has on board and what sets them apart from the hundreds of other food producers and suppliers in the capital. Tilia has a rigorous five point selection process that looks at provenance, expertise, creativity, passion and value and the food categories includes meat, fish, baked goods, greengrocer, delis and drinks. This guarantees they sell only the highest quality produce and make sure that shoppers really do get to experience the finest and most exciting food and drink available. If you’re an artisan food supplier and want to get involved, it’s not too late to join their network, simply apply online.
‘Uncorked’ is a fine wine merchant in the City, a great shop for geeky wine buffs but not intimidating at all for those who don’t know their ‘minerality’ from their Macabeu. The wine experts here know their stuff and the impressive notes that come with the wine sum up what you drink. A 2008 bottle of Le Soula for instance “weighs-in at around 14% alcohol and a mere 3.2pH and smells of fresh fig, pineapple and grapefruit, all of which lusciously and juicily flood the palate”. As well as Le Soula, the merchant’s selected 48 other wines for Tilia, all with comprehensive notes to help make your choice.
Market-regular Mark Gevaux is The Rib Man. He sells hundreds of kilos of his pork ribs in Brick Lane and the KERB Markets at King’s Cross and The Gherkin sites. After a car accident Mark lost a leg which eventually prevented him from working as a butcher so he decided to set up his rib business. It’s grown over the five years he’s been trading and his ‘Holy F*ck’ sauces are almost as famous as his ribs. He’s totally passionate about his products and takes time and effort to make them all, using only the best ingredients he can find. You only have to look on Twitter (if you’re so inclined) to see the praise he gets from his customers. He’s also worth a follow on @theribman.
Mark works out of a shipping container and has raised enough funds to go large, soon he’ll be trading-in his current unit for a much bigger one to keep up with his expanding business. Tilia is selling his Naga Chilli sauces which, as the name suggests, aren’t for the heat-shy. Not sure if you can see the illustration on the bottle but this particular bottle is Christ on a (Boris) Bike. Each of the sauces on sale have been starred to show their heat from tingle to something that may need a fire extinguisher to put out a fire. Mother Inferior I could just about bear X but there’s also Holy F*uck XXXXX; Christ-on-a-bike XXXXXX; Holy mother of god XXXXXXXX and the sauce that uses 4 kilos of Naga and Scotch Bonnets Judas-is-scary-hot XXXXXXXXXX, comes with a health warning.
‘Rubies in the Rubble’ are an award-winning social enterprise who buy the fruit and vegetables for their hand-made jams and chutney from Spitalfields saving kilos of perfectly decent food from waste. They recruit staff who are struggling to get back into work and train them up to be connoisseurs. Alicia Lawson heads up the company with the founder and former fund manager Jenny Dawson. Alicia explained how they make their produce from a commercial kitchen at New Spitalfields picking up high-quality produce on their doorstep, paying a small price for it and in turn preventing it ending its life in landfill or composting. The tomato chutney that I tried was not too spicy and bursting with a just-picked tomato intensity. Perfect with cheddar cheese, meats, dolloped in a burger or even a bacon sandwich. In fact would make a great alternative, and change to red sauce. Choose from mango chutney; spicy tomato chutney; red onion and chilli chutney and pear and walnut chutney.
All the way from Buenos Aires, Porteña is so-called to honour the people of Argentina’s capital. It’s run by three friends with a small covered stall in Borough Market and a coffee shop in Farringdon. It’s at their London Bridge shop they bake their empanadas, medialunas and sell the dangerously good Dulche de Leche and Chimichurri sauce – all Argentinian staples. They sell their empanadas; ham and cheese; spicy chicken; spinach and ricotta and traditional beef on Tilia’s site.
When you’ve filled up your shopping basket on the site, it’s delivered to your home. Not by a helmet-wearing courier who’s desperate for a signature, but by someone who has the knowledge about the suppliers goods contained in your bag. With each delivery, the drivers will chat with the customer, keeping them up-to-speed with the latest products on offer and recommending new seasonal products.
Other suppliers on Tilia’s website include Allens of Mayfair, one of the oldest butchers in the capital and suppliers to some of the capital’s best hotel kitchens including the Connaught, Claridge’s, The Dorchester, The Berkeley and The Savoy. If fish is your thing Rob’s got Steve Hatt on his side. Steve comes from a generation of fishmongers and personally collects the fish dock-side, selecting the best and bringing them back to his shop. Bread is supplied by Holtwhites an Enfield bakery run by a husband and wife team and pastries by Belle Epoque Patisserie. Choice Organics provide their organic fruit and vegetables and the Chiswick Delicatessen Mortimer and Bennett are the main greengrocer. Chocolate, is available in the Deli section and Cocomaya sell their bars here.
If you want ice cream Gino Gelato is the award-winning Italian company bringing a taste of the Amalfi Coast and Tuscany to the UK. The much talked-about traiteur Adafina who has a shop in St John’s Wood and a concession in Selfridges will be selling its Jewish cuisine on the site. I’ve just mentioned a few of the suppliers who have signed up so far but there are many more, take a look and sign up to the Tilia site here.
Tilia deliver throughout London from Tuesday to Saturday and delivery is free for orders over £50, otherwise it’s a nominal £4.95. If you do a little travel maths -v- time study the suppliers are so widely placed, you’d probably not make their outlets in a day and and a capped Oyster travel card, zones 1-6 comes in at £15.80.
If you try Tilia, please do let me know what you think.