An evening of shopping and Fizz at Tommy Hilfiger, The Mailbox

Last week I attended a super stylish event at Tommy Hilfiger in Birmingham’s stunning Mailbox.  The event was a perfect excuse to preview the new Spring/Summer collections whilst enjoying food treats from Tom’s Dinner and a chilled glass of Champagne. You could also take advantage of 20% off any purchases on the night, allowing you to update your wardrobe and save some pennies.

The Tommy Hilfiger store in The Mailbox is a bright shiny store that is a gorgeous back drop to the classic, nautical and preppy designs that are the trademark of TH. This season there are lots of great pieces featuring stripes and pretty prints, as well as designs in bold, bright colours, yellow, navy, white and red. The designs are crisp, clean, elegant and totally timeless, statement pieces that you will be able to enjoy for many summer’s to come.

On the evening you could also enjoy a personalised monogramming service, which proved to be extremely popular. Another popular selection were the sunglasses from the collection with current fashion darling Gigi Hadid.

Below are some of my favourite picks from the current collection, I would love to know your thoughts.

The plain wedges are very Kate Middleton.

How incredible is this mac? It would look so good over jeans, belted nonchalantly.

This is quite an unexpected piece from Tommy Hilfiger, a move away from the stripes and block colour, but very floaty and pretty.

This basket was a really popular piece, it is just so holiday friendly.

Bardot style dresses and tops are showing no signs of disappearing, which is great as I’ve never heard anyone say they didn’t like their shoulders.

One of my faves, this dress is such a classic piece. Team it with white plimsolls to dress it down.

That bag = total lust.

This dress, which also comes in white, has such a tennis/sporty aesthetic.

Classic Tommy Hilfiger.

A chat with Tom Aikens

Tom Aikens is a real star in the cooking world. With two Michelin stars by the age of 26, Tom has recently opened the fabulous Tom’s Kitchen in Birmingham’s plush Mailbox, and the restaurant has been an instant success, a real destination in the City’s thriving food scene. On Monday I went along to Tom’s Kitchen (with a quick pit stop at Tom’s Deli on route) to chat to Tom about all things food.

FM: Let’s start by chatting about Tom’s Kitchen. Why Birmingham? Why Mailbox?

TA: I started talking about Birmingham two years ago. I’d looked at other cities and was interested in the demographic of the Cities, what other restaurants were based there. I looked at the food press and noticed Birmingham featuring a lot, a lot of buzz around the city being No.2 for food behind London – the food capital outside London, with lots of exciting openings, Atul Kochhar’s restaurant is also coming to Birmingham (Mailbox).

I’d wanted to open a Tom’s Kitchen outside London for a number of years. When Mailbox approached I was interested in the proposed space as it had great visability and footfall. It ticked lots of boxes. Birmingham is a city with so much to offer – lots of tourism, within easy reach of London. But I was reaching out from my comfort zone which can be difficult. In London when I open a new restaurant I tend to move some of my existing staff to the venue, but in Birmingham it was a totally new staff, yet recruitment of the right people was pretty easy – all done within the time frame.

FM: Did you always want to be a chef? Who were your earliest inspirations?

TA: I wanted to be a chef from the age of 12. I grew up in Norfolk with lots of time spent outdoors. We had a massive garden with a veggie patch. Mom was very hands on – we had a kitchen garden and grew a lot of our own produce which we then transferred to our kitchen, with lots of focus on family mealtimes. I liked home economics at school and when I was 16 I went straight to Norwich City College catering school – no exams or interview required.

FM: What was your fave meal as a child? Was there any dish you really wanted to cook?

TA: My favourite meals were puddings. Mom made homemade apple pies and rhubarb crumbles. And roasts, Sunday lunches. Mom cooked  very simple stews and casseroles, and I wasn’t too fussy foodwise, would pretty much eat anything that was put in front of me..except for Steak and Kidney pie. I had a bad experience with steak and kidney pie when my mom’s friend, who was the worst cook served this up. The Pastry was almost charred, and yet it was luke warm inside (how do you do that?). The sauce was watery and it all looked so grey and chewy. It was one of those situations where you can’t leave the table unless you eat everything, so thank goodness they had a dog who I could feed every time she left the room.

FM: Who inspires and excites you now on the cooking scene?

TA: I know lots of chefs who are friends and we meet up. There is a lot of respect on the cooking scene – people like Tom Sellers, Philip Howard, Daniel Clifford from Midsummer house. We all started at around the same age and it is nice to see everyone doing so well.  I also really admire Joel Robuchon from Paris.

FM: Who would you love to cook for if you had an imaginary dinner party?

TA: Well my close family, even though my girls are fussy eaters. And lots of sports athletes. I was involved in the London Olympics in 2012, and I was involved with fundraising, including the Golden Olympic Ball (for 3000 people). I met so many athletes and they are all so dedicated, it would be hard to cherry pick individuals, people like Louis Smith, Mo Farah and Laura Trott, but I so admired their work ethic and the training they put in. If you think about their stress load, they often then have a split second between success and failure.

FM: What would your three courses be on Come Dine With Me?

TA: I’d keep it simple. For starter I’d create my go to dish of Scallops in a shell with butter, olive oil, thyme, garlic – no pan frying at all. Nice and easy, takes about 5 minutes.

For main I would do a simple rib of beef. In summer I just love to barbecue so this ties in nicely. I’d make sure there was a big pot of Bearnaise sauce too.

Pudding – again, keep it simple – a lemon tart. (I did at this point tell Tom that my dessert would be even more simple – Vienetta. He laughed and said ‘chop some strawberries, add some whipped cream and hide the box. Winner.’)

FM: What are your personal favourite foods?

TA: I don’t have one favourite food but I love that British food is so seasonal. I love Asparagus, gulls eggs, game, venison, partridge and grouse. I think we are very lucky to have seasonal food, although the season always seems to be Winter!

FM: What achievement are you most proud of?

I think it has to be my two Michelin stars by the early age of 26. I didn’t really know that something like that would happen, but I’m really proud to have achieved this so young.

FM: What next for Tom Aikens?

TA: Well, I would like to continue to open Tom’s Kitchen’s. On a personal level, I’m looking to a few new projects, one in Doha and one in Abu Dhabi. That will definitely be enough for me.

 

Tom’s Kitchen

Address: 53, The Mailbox, Wharfside St, Birmingham B1 1RE
Phone: 0121 289 5111

 

 

Best of Britannia launches at The Mailbox

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Best of Britannia launched today in Birmingham’s Mailbox at the start of a 4 day pop up space. The Pop up is a showcase of leading high-end independent British brands, covering everything from fashion and lifestyle to food and drink. With Black Friday taking place and Christmas on the way, now is the perfect time to get yourself into Birmingham in order to pick up an unusual gift idea that will delight even those who are trickiest to please.

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Today was an excuse to get familiar with the 11 brands that are being showcased, and to also enjoy the unusual, but totally delicious spirit liqueurs  on offer from The Sweet Potato Company (the Toffee Apple was divine!).  There was also celebratory fizz and mini burgers to fill the lunchtime gap.

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I was really impressed with the lovely selection of brands involved in the showcase. The leather driving gloves from Gizelle Renee are beautiful pieces of luxury that would make an incredible Christmas gift, and this goes ditto for the exquisite silk scarves from Furious Goose, which have incredible patterns and are beautifully gift boxed.

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The leather satchels and handbags from The Leather Satchel Company are real showstoppers, coming in a range of sizes and colours, and with the prestige and heritage of being the first satchel company. There is also a range of soft, luxurious knitwear from Ross Barr and Genevieve Sweeney, unusual ceramics from Stolen Form and original clothing designs from A-MM-E (their beige coat was so amazing, as was the gold lace and foil skirt.

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And then of course, there was that delicious liqueur from the Artisan company The Sweet Potato Company. With names like Pink Marshmallow Moonshine and Toffee Apple Moonshine they were pretty hard to resist, and when you then ties in the gorgeous bottle and bottle bags making them already wrapped for Christmas, then these become a no-brainer for your Christmas list, and worth a trip to the Mailbox to pick up a bottle or two. (Can you guess that I really liked these?)

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Best of Britannia will be running at The Mailbox until Sunday 27th November, stop by and pick up a Christmas gift or two.