Tilia – Personal Shopping for Food:
Gentle reader, the Tilia lifestyle is perhaps not the one I currently lead. But, at one time perhaps it was; I was on a corporate treadmill, travelling to mainland Europe weekly and further afield on a regular basis. Leaving at 5am in the morning for the first flight from Heathrow and arriving home to an empty fridge but a relatively well padded wallet. I yearned for good quality food to cook when I got home, but ended up eating takeaways or ready meals from the local late night shop. Now, I have time to shop and I enjoy wandering around markets and artisan food shops trying before I buy. Then, I still wanted the special things I knew I should have had time to buy – and if the Tilia home shopping service had been around it would have been exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. So, when I was asked to review and given a contribution to the cost of my shopping I was delighted to have a go.
I probably DID push the review to the limits. I definitely spent more than I’d intended (I’d been given a budget and managed to justify doubling it with my own contribution because I liked what I saw in terms of suppliers and wanted to try them all). And, I’m still dining-in on the goods!
How does it work? Well, you shop online with Tilia – picking your delivery from a whole range of groceries that are sourced from the best suppliers in London. My shopping list had meat from Allens of Mayfair, crackers from Peters Yard, Clams and Crab from S J Hatt fishmongers, cheese, chorizo and bresaola from Mortimer and Bennett and even some organic veg from Choice Organic. Once you’ve placed your order, at least in my case you can pick from a two hour time slot for delivery, on a relatively short time frame (I think the timeframe depends on your post-code). Then someone else does the footwork for you. And therein is some of the benefit. For a household of one or two, it is quite easy to find enough to buy to cover the minimum order amount for free delivery (£50). For me, that has given me about a week’s worth of meals for one (based on a single meal a day) and a few extras to fill my store cupboard.
Sit at home and wait – your shopping arrives, neatly packed in bags from each supplier. My ‘personal shopper’ told me it was her first day working for Tilia and that she’d really enjoyed going around and doing my shopping. Delivery for orders over £50 are free of charge and it doesn’t matter if you pick one thing from every one of the different specialist suppliers. That makes the whole thing quite realistic in terms of cost/time benefit because actually, even for someone like me who works from home, to have visited all the shops, picked the perfect items from the shelf, waited while everything was packed and then got back with the five or six carrier bags that arrived on my doorstep would have been a major issue. And I suspect I probably would have spent even more.
While Tilia is never going to offer ‘Asda value’, pricing is realistic for what you are getting – absolutely best in class quality from a whole range of specialist suppliers. As an example, my clams were £6.50 for 500g (plenty for two meals) and an excellent quality hot chorizo was £4.25. I’m still eating my way through the food so, I can’t vouch for the quality of everything, though I’ve tried a little from each supplier (and all of the fresh fish and meat). I’m particularly impressed that my Tuesday delivery of delicious dressed crab had a use-by date of Friday (so must have been ultra fresh) and that the organic vegetables that are left still look fresh on Saturday. I loved the Allens of Mayfair lamb rump and I’m trying my best not to nibble at the delicious compte cheese too often.
I’m trying quite hard to justify the need of someone who works from home and eats out rather too often (e.g me) to use the service again regularly and I really can’t. But, if I was still working in a office, this WOULD be an excellent way to get the food I really love without spending all my leisure time shopping. As it is, I may well shop again, but on a slightly more ad-hoc basis, if I’m entertaining or very busy!
Meanwhile, just to leave you with a little food envy, here’s just one of the dishes I made with my Tilia order – a lovely clam, white wine, chilli and pasta dish. Recipe to follow!
For more about the Tilia home shopping service check out the Tilia Website