SWEET-toothed Scots with an appetite for the unknown now have the chance to try a fishy new creation – seaweed ice cream.
As of this week, a St Andrews parlour will offer the abstract dessert, made up of green tea, lemon, chocolate shards and seaweed, along with their usual favourite flavours.
The green intruder will be found nestled in-between rum and raisin, mint chocolate chip and caramel pecan, and costs just £1.60 a scoop at Janettas Gelateria.
The “love it or hate it” creation uses seaweed harvested from the coast off East Neuk in Fife – less than 500m from the front of the shop.
Collectors have to wait until the tide is low enough to gather the special ingredient, which they carry in large rubber baskets back to shore.
It is then hung out to dry, milled into flakes and swirled into the parlour’s special ice cream recipe – resulting in a flavour which owners have admitted is “a bit strange”.
The idea arose from a collaboration between the ice cream shop and Mara Seaweed, a company which specialises in the ancient Gaelic tradition of gathering the algae.
The seaweed they provide to the parlour is ground into a salt, which they call Shony, and is usually sprinkled over meat and fish dishes.
The ice cream was debuted at the Crail Food Festival this weekend, when parlour owner Owen Hazel took over 100 litres of the dessert with him for locals to try.
Despite the strangeness of the ingredients, this is not the first time Owen has experimented with different flavours.
His shop also boasts a repertoire of parsnip, pineapple salsa and even blue cheese ice cream.
“The idea of putting seaweed into ice cream is not as ridiculous as it seems,” he said.
“It is already used in a lot of dishes and served in high-end restaurants. We’ve created a lot of strange ice cream flavours in the past and this was just another challenge.
“By all accounts it seems to have worked. I personally like it, though it is a bit strange, and my wife says she loves it.
“We first tried to create a flavour using chocolate, but that didn’t turn out very well, so I did some more research to find out what other ingredients would complement the seaweed.
“You either love it or hate it, it’s a bit of a novelty but I hope people try it and give their honest opinion.”
Fiona Houston, Managing Director of Mara Seaweed, said she was “delighted” with how the recipe turned out.
“I’ve tried it and it’s great,” she said. “I’m delighted that we’ve collaborated with the ice cream parlour and would encourage people to give it a try.
“The Shony seaweed that we provide is a blend of hand-picked algae from the nearby coastline. It’s becoming more popular as people realise it’s a good alternative to salt.
“Hopefully this is the start of something – it’s an exciting collaboration and may lead to more recipes in the future.”
The ice cream has so far proved a hit with locals who were given the chance to preview the novelty flavour.
Seven-year-old Christopher Knight said he “didn’t want to eat it” when presented with a cone full of seaweed off the beach.
However, when he tried a lick of the ice cream, he changed his mind.
“I would eat it again, it’s nice,” he said. “But I still prefer chocolate.”
His sister, nine-year-old Maya, agreed.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “It tastes a bit like sweets, I can’t taste any seaweed at all.
“Bubblegum is still my favourite, but I might have this one every two weeks.”
Their mother, 45-year-old Linda from Ceres, Fife, said: “I’m shocked, it’s quite enjoyable.”
“There are a lot of different flavours here. You can really taste the green tea, and the seaweed isn’t too powerful.
“It’s not salty at all, it’s actually quite sweet. It’s not something I would eat all the time, I’m a mint chocolate chip fan, but it would be nice to perhaps serve at a dinner party.
“It’s something that people should try at least. I didn’t know what my children’s reaction would be but they seem to be enjoying it.”