I don’t really do reviews on the blog, not least because I’m so rarely asked. But every so often, when a company comes along and really impresses me, I’ll write a big old open love letter to them, just because I want to. Last to get the DorkyMum full-on-virtual-hug treatment was M&S… now it’s the turn of Abel and Cole.
(I can hear my friends sighing already – I’ve been going on about A&C for weeks – this is the last of it, I promise!)
Here’s the deal. Abel and Cole will deliver a weekly organic veg box to your door. Or a fruit box. Or a mixed fruit and veg box. Whatever you like, really. They also deliver dairy products, meat, kitchen cupboard staples, fish, drinks, chocolatey goodness… pretty much everything you need for a happy and full tummy. It’s no more expensive than most supermarkets, and it’s a whole lot more convenient, especially when you’ve not got a car.
Most of their packaging is lovely and sustainable (they use packets of sheep’s wool to keep your produce cool!) and they re-use the cardboard boxes several times if you remember to leave them out for collection. They publish easy-peasy weekly recipes, so that if you’re stuck for ideas on how to use your beetroot or your celeriac or whatever, you can just have a look online and they’ll have several suggestions.
But you could have found all that out yourself from their website. That’s all good, but it’s just standard blurb. Here’s why I really love them, and why they have been making me so happy.
Firstly, their customer service is awesome. If you phone, you get a real person and not a machine. They send nice, personal emails, and funny Tweets. Our deliveryman Mariusz left us a sparkly wee Christmas card. And when I went online the week before Thanksgiving to ask about turkeys, even though they couldn’t deliver one themselves, the member of staff I was chatting to over their instant messenger called up the websites of several other places where I could get one delivered from. That’s pretty darned good.
Secondly, they give good freebies. They seem to have some kind of crazy intuition whereby they always know what I need even when I don’t. When my Mum was down staying, and I’d forgotten to buy a lemon for her hot water and lemon in the morning, Mariusz showed up at 7am with our week’s box, and it had a bonus, freebie lemon in it. The week after, I’d forgotten to buy a new bottle of olive oil at the store three days on the trot, so I was delighted when I opened my boxes and found a lovely little bottle of organic oil in there that I hadn’t ordered. Last week they even sent us a recipe book – what a great start to the New Year.
The only problem with the freebies is when you start taking them for granted. The week before Christmas I’d seen whisperings on Twitter and Facebook about people getting mistletoe in their boxes. I got a bit ridiculously excited about it. But by Saturday, when our delivery came, they’d run out. I was gutted. Undeterred, I marched through to DorkyDad, lips puckered, demanding a Christmas kiss under our free, erm, floret of broccoli.
The third, and most important thing about our Abel and Cole deliveries is that they have genuinely changed the way we eat for the better. I am not a natural cook, but when you have got really good produce, it makes you want to use it. Instead of starting from scratch when we’re making decisions about what to eat every night, I’ll look in the fridge in the morning to see what veggies we have left, and I’ll plan a meal around that. Instead of sticking some frozen chips in the oven, I’ll make my own wedges, or make a potato salad, or have a baked one instead. We are eating far, far more greens that we would do otherwise – not just boring stuff like cabbage, but hard-to-spell things like cavolo nero and curly kale. We’re eating far more fruit than we used to, and somehow we also seem to be wasting far less.
Even DorkySon, who is not yet three, is getting in on the act. He loves helping put all the food away when it arrives. He has been asking lots of questions about where food comes from, and how it grows, and he has brought his wee plastic step into the kitchen so he can stand up and watch when DorkyDad and me are preparing a meal. There has been an abundance of carrots recently, so DorkySon and I have been making a lot of carrot cake cupcakes. Last week we had more oranges than we could eat, so we made carrot and orange cake, and then he had a blast using our juicer to squeeze himself a sippy cup full of super fresh orange juice.
I am Scottish, so it takes a lot to impress me. It takes even more to make me admit that I’m impressed. But I really am. Thank you, awesome Abel and Cole, for turning this reluctant cook into someone who won’t stop raving about food.
There’s just one thing. One small thing. Next year, please can you save me some mistletoe?