Welcome to A Brit Excellent, a small celebration of British brands, foods, people and places that I love. Every week I give a little nod to our humour, our quirkiness and all the excellent things we make.
It was my darling boyfriend’s birthday last month, which was nice. It also meant I got to spend some time in the menswear department at Liberty’s and time spent at Liberty’s is always good. In fact I must say a special thank you to the chaps who work there for being so patient with my ridiculous questions and letting me hold things up against them to see what they looked like.
As we staggered home from the birthday family curry I carried the gorgeous chopping board Jon has been given by his sister. I had suffered bad present envy when he opened it and had to stop myself reaching over to seize it from his lap. It’s all the colours in one giant checkered grid thing and it’s glass so you can use it for chopping, presenting a cheeseboard or walk round with it pretending it’s a giant clutch bag you can’t actually keep anything in. It also boasts a proud little sticker saying “Made in the UK” which always gives me a thrill. I really did fall for it on that walk home and drifted off to a time in the future when Jon and I had moved in together and it was legitimately mine. A sure a sign of being in your early 30s is that your object of desire isn’t a bottle of Grey Goose or Chris Hemsworth but a glass chopping board. I also really like The Archers.
I always assumed Joseph Joseph was Scandinavian whilst lusting over their coloured nest of bowls in John Lewis. I have also admired the eight piece measuring spoon set all neatly stacking from purple up through orange into yellow. I can’t imagine making anything which involved such excessive measuring but just knowing I could is enough. I do love a nest of anything because you’ve always got just the right size of vessel and it all fits in the cupboard. Not that I would shove any of these in the cupboard. I would more likely design a kitchen to match them and point them out to visitors as part of a small tour.
Joseph Joseph are twin brothers, sadly not both called Joseph but Antony and Richard. Grandad Joseph started his business in England in 1936 and made everything from fridges to wing mirrors before settling on chopping boards with various rustic scenes. The lads are both trained in product design and when their father asked them to have a go at reinventing the boards they went for it. In 2003 they went it alone and created Joseph Joseph making the boards but also kitchen utensils, storage products and tableware. Their thing is to not only make products that look good on the side but also include clever little design things which mean they work a lot better.
I’ve since learnt that what Jon was given is a worktop saver, so you can do anything you want on it to save your marble and all of their worktop savers are made in the UK. Their chopping boards are in fact those brilliant plastic ones that fold up so you can go straight from board to pan without your onion going everywhere. There’s also lunch boxes with various compartments and things that mean you can poach perfect eggs in the microwave. My personal favourite is the spaghetti measurer as I’m someone who always cooks far too little or, more often, too much spaghetti. The other day I made enough for an Italian wedding.
The boys are now expanding into the heady world of recycling, creating units that mean we don’t have to find eight new bins to accommodate the glass, cardboard, plastic, tins etc. Looking at the website I became more excited than I should about an expandable dish drainer and though I should probably get out more, the thought of one day coming home to that work top saver makes me very happy.