When he’s not grappling with the problems of the world, President Barack Obama likes to curl up with a nice box of chocolates. His favourites are made by Fran’s Chocolates of Seattle.
They have a very special ingredient that makes them extra delicious. And it comes all the way from the shores of the Menai Strait on Anglesey. Halen Môn
Their Smoked Sea Salt, to be precise, infused with the scent of Welsh oak chippings. Sprinkled on top of chocolate, it takes a simple pleasure into the realms of the divine.
Their Vanilla Sea Salt made with pods from Tahiti has much the same effect on shellfish. Their Spiced Sea Salt, which includes coriander, turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, will transform your roast potatoes.
And don’t even ask about their Organic Celery Sea Salt. “Quails’ eggs would weep without it,” says Sam Rosen-Nash, grocery buyer for Fortnum & Mason.
In just 14 years David and Alison Lea-Wilson of Halen Môn have turned a saucepan of saltwater bubbling on an Aga into a worldwide culinary phenomenon.
Top chefs such as Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsay and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have fallen in love with the gem-like crystals. In fact many of the world’s top 50 restaurants use sea salt from the pristine waters of Anglesey.
“Our location is absolutely crucial to our success because Wales has got such a clean image,” says Alison. “We are so proud of Anglesey, where the quality of life is incredible and the food is unsurpassed.”
Some things never change. Anglesey was once known as Môn Mam Cymru, or the Mother of Wales, because of its fertility. And its clover-rich fields and teeming seas still produce more food heroes per square mile then just about anywhere else in the country.
You can meet most of them in Menai Bridge on the third Saturday of every month. Anglesey Farmers Market
brings together more than 30 local food producers under a single roof. All offering scrumptious treats that they’ve probably made, picked or caught that morning.
Multiple award-winners such as Derimôn
, whose oak smoked Anglesey wild seabass fillets won gold in the True Taste Awards. Y Cwt Caws
, producers of goat’s cheeses from their herd of Saanens, Toggenburgs and Alpines.
Or David and Julia Livingstone of Cemaes Bay Lobster & Crabs
, whose products speak for themselves. And which would probably taste even nicer with a sprinkling of Vanilla Sea Salt.