Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Guardian Commercial Partnership - signed and sealed

Last week was an exciting one for Unchained. We've been chatting to the lovely people at the Guardian newspaper for a few weeks now and we're pleased to say that last week we signed a contract to become one of their Commercial Partners.


The Guardian Commercial Partners Network is a service that joins up the publishers of independent websites with the readers and advertisers of Guardian Unlimited.

The new version of the Unchained site will have ad space on some of the pages. The way this ad space is sold is hugely important to us. We don't want a Starbucks ad on our site (and in all honesty, we doubt they want to be there). So as part of the partnership, the Guardian sales team take care of ad sales for us. Together, we can make sure that only the right people and brands find their way onto our site.

There are other great collaborative things too, like being included on their website (with over 22 million impressions a month that means a lot of exposure for our lovely shops) and other bits and bobs that are really exciting, which we'll share with you as they happen. So watch this space.

Naturally, we wouldn't climb into bed with just any old newspaper. The Guardian's dedication to sustainability and ethical living make them the perfect fit for us and our users.

A big thanks to Carrina and Guy for helping make it all happen and for being pretty good company in the Guardian canteen to boot.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Hugel live twitter wine tasting London

Last night I was delighted to be part of a Live Twitter Wine Tasting.

Here's the scoop. A group of people gathered round to taste amazing Hugel & Fils
white wines from the Alsace region. As we ate and drank we tweeted our taste sensations, sharing them with an American group who were doing the same thing - albeit later, because of the time difference.

When the fabulous Annie Mole
first told me about the evening I was utterly intrigued. Not just because it involved two of my favourite things in the universe (i.e. food and wine), but because it was a social evening not just arranged through social media (inviting friends to an event on Facebook is so last year) but this was actually arranged around social media, where social media was going to play an active part in the real life activity.

It did feel as if there was a paralell event taking place around the table. @anniemole poked fun at @
jamescridland and his love/hate relationship with his "steaming pile of fail" iPhone... We read a tweet from our wonderful host Robert McIntosh about what course was next. That kind of thing.

Interestingly, the innate social-media-ness of it all compeltely re-wrote the rule-book on etiquette. Anyone peering in on the scene would be forgiven for confusing us with a bunch of socially inept barbarians. Our phones were out and very well used, laptops were on, wine was criticised (though mostly praised) and pictures were taken non-stop - now I know how Britney feels.

Anyway, enough of the sociology, here is last night's menu, with my accompanying tweets. The hungry and thirsty should look away now:

1. Hugel Tradition Gentil (aka Les Fleurs d'Alsace) 2006
Match: Scallops pan fried with white wine, ginger, garlic and chilli

I said: dry, full, smooooooth and dry, but I can certainly drink it.

2. Hugel Tradition Pinot Blanc 2006
Match: Red Onion or Asparagus Tarts with baby leaf salad

I said: Hmmm. I've never liked white wine. And I still don't. Ahem. I have always loved asparagus tart though. Yum, yum.

3. Hugel Tradition Gew├╝rztraminer 2006
Match: Fois Gras Mi Cuit with toast and fig chutney

I said: enjoyed with a hefty slice of fois gras. Smelled of marshmallow. Made the flavours ignite like fireworks - New Year's Eve in my mouth.

4. Hugel Riesling Jubilee 2004
Match: Pork Medallions with Mustard Mash, Apples and Cider Reduction

I said: I drank it, yet it felt like the inside of my mouth never moistened from it. Icky.

5. Hugel Gew├╝rztraminer Vendage Tardive 2001
Match: Coconut Maccaroons

I said:
looks and smelled like honey.

But I highly, highly recommend you completely ignore my incompetent appraisals and read the expert's blog instead.

Lovely to share a meal with such interesting bods:

Annie Mole, Sandrine, Jeremy, Kai, Niamh, James. Big thanks to Andrew & Robert for a brilliant evening.

Here are Kai's thumbnails from his Flickr stream of the night:

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Unchained goes west

This month's Unchained Mini-Guide is for the beautiful Devonshire Road in Chiswick. And it's just gone live on Londonist.

We needed to do some proper research for the article, so we went along to Chiswick on Sunday to check it all out and talk to the shopkeepers. It's such a beautiful and friendly little street with a great variety of top notch shops. But there's no point in me talking about it any more here when you can just go to Londonist and read the post.

If you've got any suggestions for next month's mini-guide, drop us a line. We've done east and west now - so north, south or central would be good.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Everything(ish) you've every wanted to know about... Dave

Unchained has existed for over a year now. Of course, a year ago it wasn't an actual thing yet. Back in those days it was just an idea between three people eager to make it happen.

A lot has happened between then and now. And today we reached one of my most favouritest milestones ever. For the first time I wasn't the only one of those three people putting in a solid, formal day of work at Unchained. That's right sweet, sentimental reader, Dave was sitting right across from me - deeming the many phone calls and emails we share on a regular day redundant.

For those of you wondering how Dave feels on his first day at his new job, here's a little interview with him at our headquarters here in Rich Mix:

Does this feel like a new job?

Not at all. A year of doing Unchained in evenings, weekends and holidays has seen to that. It feels like an exciting release though. I'm just so happy to be able to put in proper working hours and concentrate on meatier tasks. It's always interesting starting in a new office, though, and trying to fit in with the other people who's space you're invading.

This morning was your first Monday morning meeting with the rest of the Unchained team. Do you have any requests for next time? Some pastries perhaps?

Absolutely. We need to find some independent delis or bakers in the area. I just wish there was some site that could make it easier for us to find them.

Can people expect to see a difference in Unchained now that you're here?

There definitely will be a big difference. But not really because of my presence. It's just that there are so many exciting things happening like a web refresh, big PR campaign, launches in other cities and - oh, hold on, am I allowed to talk about any of this? Sorry. It's just the excitement of my first day at work.

Do you have any questions for Dave? Send them over.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Welcome Dave

Today is almost as exciting as Monday is going to be.

You see today is Dave's last day at Poke. And that means that Monday, is his first official day working with Unchained.

Dave has been fitting his contributions to Unchained around his full time job as Creative Director, but in a few hours that's all going to change. You can read all about it in his farewell post.

Welcome Dave, it's about time.

Happy days!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Unchained down under? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

We were never too sure about Oz.

As a destination, it's awesome (obviously) but we didn't think it was right for Unchained. We just thought that perhaps mall culture would deem Unchained redundant before it even began.

Recent news about Starbucks however has led me to think otherwise.

If you know Australia well I'd love to know what you think. Unchained Sydney? Is it a goer?