Mara – Artisan Seaweeds Harvested from Celtic Waters

mara seaweed

Seaweed is a broad term that is used to describe and categorise marine plants and algae that grow in oceans and seas.  Even though their growing popularity in the West is a relatively new phenomena, edible seaweeds have been consumed by coastal populations around the world throughout history.

Most notably, seaweed has been eaten in the Far East since ancient times, and remains a popular staple in Japan where it is used in soups and sushi.  Closer to home in the UK, seaweed harvested from the rugged Welsh coastline forms the basis of a traditional dish called Laverbread.

In recent years, the global community of curious foodies, health conscious eaters and gourmet chefs have begun to recognise edible seaweeds as innovative additions to their diets and culinary repertoires. As well as being high in key vitamins, antioxidants, calcium, zinc and iodine, each individual variety of seaweed has a unique flavour profile.

In my quest to learn more about these nutritious slow foods harvested from the sea, I recently discovered an Edinburgh-based company called Mara who sell a range of Scottish seasonal seaweeds.

Mara was established in 2011 by wild food experts Fiona Houston and Alexandra (Xa) Milne as a way of bringing seaweed, a natural resource and one of Scotland’s forgotten foods, to modern consumers.  The company produces a range of four varieties of dried, powdered seaweeds which can be used as tasty condiments, versatile seasonings, and low sodium alternatives to salt.

I spoke to Xa at this year’s Natural & Organic Products Europe show about Mara and their seaweeds.  You can hear my interview with Xa by clicking on the play button below.

Cocofina Coconut Water

Cocofina-Coconut-Water-And-FlavoursI love coconut water , its one of my not-so-guilty, guilty pleasures.  It tastes great, its a good source of vitamins and minerals, and its the best thirst quencher and hydrator that I have ever drunk.

For many years, coconut water has been savoured straight from fresh, young green coconuts in tropical regions of Brazil, India, south east Asia, the Caribbean, and anywhere else where coconut palms grow.  In the last couple of years, a celebrity endorsed trend for consuming pre-packaged coconut water has been rapidly spreading across the USA and the UK.  The increased demand for this magical clear-coloured elixir is reflected in the number of coconut water brands that are now available.  The flavour profiles of these pre-packaged coconut waters vary from brand to brand depending on the breed and country of origin of the coconuts that it is extracted from.

Myself, I really like the clean, sweet taste of coconut water from coconuts that have been grown and harvested in Thailand.  At this year’s Natural and Organic Products Europe show at London Olympia, I spoke to Jacob Thundil, the founder and director of a company called Cocofina that produces Thai coconut water.  Jacob told me the story of his company, as well as about their comprehensive range of coconut waters and other coconut products.

Mirabilia Olive Leaf Tea

mirabilia olive leaf tea
Drinking tea has been a major part of British life and culture since the 17th century.  A wide variety of diverse teas are consumed and savoured on a daily basis throughout the nation, ranging from gourmet black teas and builder’s tea, to herbal infusions and green tea.

I was very excited to discover a new kind of tea at this year’s Natural and Organic Products Europe event at London Olympia.  Mirabilia Olive Leaf Tea was set up by Bimbi Bellhouse and Kim Evans to produce organic olive leaf tea from the finest hand picked leaves from their olive groves, located in a historic olive growing region in Abruzzo, Italy.

While I was at the Mirabilia stand, I spoke to Bimbi about their unique tea.  I was captivated and fascinated to learn about how it is produced, as well as about its comprehensive set of health benefits.  Naturally, I was also curious to taste their tea, as I am with all new interesting food products.  And what was my verdict?  I really enjoyed my refreshing cup of olive leaf tea – it was a delicious infusion that had a lovely delicate, rounded mellow flavour profile.  

Natural and Organic Products Europe Gallery

The Natural & Organic Products Europe event is an annual trade show that is held at London Olympia.  It is a really good show where a wide range of diverse exhibitors showcase the latest product developments in the fields of food, beauty, health, nutrition and natural living.

This year’s show runs from 7th-8th ApriI and I thoroughly enjoyed my 1st day at the show.  I was impressed by the level of innovative new products on show, as well as the quality of exhibitors.  Also, I discovered several new food heroes and was given food for thought many times during the day.   Continue reading