Alison, co-founder of Halen Môn, is a food-lover through and through. She travels the world from Shanghai to St Petersburg to sell the sea salt that we take such care in making, always carrying a notebook to record all the recipes that inspire her along the way, and is widely known to have as much skill in the kitchen as she does in sales (her sourdough, especially, is something to behold.)
In the latest in our A Panad With… series, she talks about what Wales means to her and her worst kitchen disaster.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?
I worked in a stationery shop which smelt of pencils and newsprint. I was also a shop assistant in a bakery where you could choose a cake to eat in your break, a waitress, a propagator in a plant nursery, a bar maid, a plastic watering can assembler in a factory and a cook.
WHO TAUGHT YOU TO LOVE FOOD?
My family. We always sat round a table to eat breakfast and supper. My grandmother was a great baker and most social occasions centred around food. I wrote my own recipe book when I was a child which involved lots of weird things picked from the garden like honeysuckle nectar and willow leaves.
WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR BREAKFAST?
Sourdough toast and avocado sprinkled with Halen Môn (sorry, I really did.)
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MEAL SO FAR IN LIFE?
There have been so many. Some are memorable for the people I’ve shared them with, others for the place, others for the food.
Stone Barn at Blue Hill in NY state, where each course made us smile as well as drool
A seafood feast on a friend’s beach in Anglesey
A lobster roll in Rhode Island
A chance deviation off the main road between Nice and Italy which revealed a seafood restaurant on the beach with Halen Môn on each table
A steak in Zingerman’s
An unforgettable meal at The Fat Duck
A supper at The CN Tower
So many Christmas dinners over the years, sharing good bottles of red wine with my father
WHAT DO YOU EAT AFTER A LONG DAY AT WORK?
Poached eggs from our own hens on my sourdough toast with lots of salty butter
WHAT DOES HALEN MÔN GO BEST WITH?
DESCRIBE WALES IN FIVE WORDS
Proud, farsighted, inclusive, beautiful and nurturing
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE SMELL?
The salty sea
WHAT’S YOUR WORST KITCHEN DISASTER?
Grey, wallpaper paste instead of gnocchi
THE MOST UNDERUSED INGREDIENT?
WHAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GOOD PLATE OF FOOD AND AN AMAZING ONE?
The correct seasoning, beautiful presentation and the right surroundings and company
IMAGES: J Lea-Wilson