the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 4 – Mr Popple’s Chocolate

‘Tis the season of eating, drinking and generally being merry, but it is also a time where you can indulge in something rather special. Chocolate is another seasonal staple, but not all chocolate is made equal. A shiny foil wrapper is not the designator of high quality, as we all know. We are seeking out the unusual flavours, unexpected combinations and highly ethical ingredients. It’s Day 4 on our Eco Gift Guide and we would like some of Mr Popple’s Chocolate please.

eco-gift-guide-day-4-mr-popples-chocolate-3

Made by hand using organic raw cacao and ethically sourced ingredients (by someone actually called Mr Popple), this is probably as good as you will get from a bar of chocolate. With tasty, intriguing flavours, from Stong Dark to Euphoric Orange and even Flower Power, which is filled with rose oil and dried flowers. The chocolate is also packaged in lovely 100% recycled board sleeves with coloured prints over.

eco-gift-guide-day-4-mr-popples-chocolate-1It also has some rather lovely benefits…

Raw cacao has several stimulating qualities to it, and causes feelings of well being – like normal chocolate – but many, many times stronger, and without the energy crash that comes later. Because Mr Popple does not roast his cacao beans, lots of nutrients that normally get destroyed by roasting are left intact. Some of the nutritional compounds in Mr Popple’s raw chocolate bars can cause pleasant psychoactive effects.’

Ooh er.

 

 

We would be delighted to find this in our stockings this year, especially the rather incredible Amazin’ Fennel and Raisin…

eco-gift-guide-day-4-mr-popples-chocolate-2

Find them in various stockists in the UK through their website, or buy online from £3.49 per bar, with different bulk buy combination discounts too. Can you really just go for one bar? It’s healthy. It really is.

(images via Mr Popple’s Chocolate)

Weekend words – when life gives you cherry plums…

when life gives you cherry plums

(image and photography by claire potter)

Monday Musings – foraging – taking advantage or taking your share?

Today on Monday Musings we have a very apt discussion to wade into – foraging. Yesterday we ran one of our popular Urban Foraging walks in Brighton, leading a small group through a couple of parks and streets of the city. We pointed out what is edible, abundant, how you can use it and the folklore and traditions that surround the things we walk past every day. But one discussion that we had, was not how we should forage, but whether we should at all.

cherry plum foraging

This had arisen with the recent discussion – and argument in the Daily Mail – that foragers are stripping the New Forest bare of mushrooms. John Wright, the foraging expert linked with River Cottage (and one of our heroes) came under fire, as his paid foraging courses were blamed for the sparseness of mushrooms in the area. This accusation was quickly rubbished by Wright and River Cottage, who stated that not only do they operate within the law, but that they collect a tiny fraction of the mushrooms discovered on a walk – taking only one basket of edible mushrooms and one basket of ‘interesting’ mushrooms between the whole group. No mushroom is picked twice, and only Wright picks the mushrooms. And of course, only with permission of the landowner.applesPlus, the mushroom is only the reproductive organ of the living organism below ground, so saying that picking mushrooms is harmful, is quite honestly, rubbish. Where the argument against over picking stands is when the forest is laid bare of mushrooms – not perhaps from a conservation point of view, but it is indeed a sad sight.

So this is an interesting argument. With the increasing interest in foraging taking hold, how can we ensure that us, who teach the skill, are being responsible? 

Frankly, I believe that the people I teach to forage – those who want to reconnect with the seasons and their landscape (with respect) and supplement their weekly shop and autumn larders with nutritious and plentiful goodies are not the problem. Like Wright, I only point out items that are so common we would have to all locally down tools and pick for a week to make any kind of dent in the harvest. Hawthorns? Japanese Roses? Nettles? Do me a favour. hawthorn

We never pick items that are rare, or unusual, and if we do discover something, we look and learn.

My personal bugbear with foraging does not sit with people (like me) who run paid for foraging courses, or write books or blogs on the subject. It does not sit with people who post their foraging forays on twitter, facebook and instagram. It certainly does not sit with the individual who picks a kilo of apples on a piece of waste ground. My bugbear sits with those few unscrupulous ‘commercial foragers’ who flaunt the 50 shades of grey areas of the law – picking wherever they can, in large quantities for resale to restaurants and gastropubs. Whenever I see ‘locally foraged’ on a menu I ask questions. Where, who, when? With permission?

Foraging is about being respectful. And the vast majority of us are just that. We respect our local areas, we respect the local biodiversity and we respect the knowledge that has been gathered over generations that we risk losing forever in the eternal glow of the supermarkets.

So will I stop foraging, or teaching people how to forage? Not on your nelly. Knowledge is power and respect comes from education, not ignorance.

*** EVENT *** Urban Foraging in Brighton – 2nd July 2015

Hooray! Only a couple of days to go until our next Urban Foraging event in Brighton and Hove! Starting at the Dyke Road Cafe, we will wind out way through the parks and streets of Brighton and Hove over two hours, identifying the fantastic things that are abundant and edible in our urban hedges. What can you use? When can you use it? How do you use it? We will cover all of this, plus the legal requirements that need to be taken into consideration when foraging…

cherry plum foraging

Join us for a bit of an educating walk, get reconnected with your urban environment and enjoy a bit of a foraged drink at the end.

A perfect way to spend a Sunday morning!  Click here to go to our Eventbrite page with all the details…

(image by claire potter design)

our latest Urban Foraging Walk is now live!

We have been pretty busy on the foraging front this year – mostly running foraging walks for other lovely people in the city, but we have had so many people ask us whether we are running any more, we are!

cherry plum foraging

Up now are full details of our Urban Foraging walk in Brighton on 2nd August… Ever wondered what you walk past each day which you could add into to your daily diet? Ever wondered what this whole urban foraging thing is about, where it has come from and what you can actually do with that random looking leaf? Well, during our 2 hour intro walk, we will help guide you through the laws and pitfalls of foraging and help you identify up to 20 things that are abundant and actually rather delicious in the city. Finishing off with a little drink at the end, this introductory foraging walk through the parks and streets of Brighton will give you a taster of what you are missing…

The walk is £10 per person (with kids free) and you can book through our Eventbrite page…

We look forward to seeing you!

(image by claire potter)

Easter gift idea – a membership to the Heritage Seed Library…

Before anyone says anything – we are huge fans of chocolate, especially the organic loveliness from Montezumas in Brighton, but we had a thought about what else we would love to give people as a gift this Easter break. With the front of the studio literally springing up before our eyes, the soil warming nicely and the seed packages mounting up, we will be giving the gift of heritage growing – with memberships to the Heritage Seed Library from Garden Organic.

We are very proud to be members, with our annual subs of £18 going towards conserving vegetable types which are not commercially available any more. Some are UK varieties, some from further afield, but the HSL ensures that these varieties are not being lost forever… Plus, as part of our membership – as well as the warm fuzzy feeling of doing something good, we also get to pick six different varieties from the library each December to grow ourselves.

From purple carrots to purple beans and even long lost fruits such as the triffid like Achocha, we have had the joy (and sometimes despair) of growing over the past ten years or so. Plus, there is nothing quite like putting a variety into the summer village show that has not been seen for a few years, if at all.

So, if you have someone that is green fingered and not a huge fan of chocolate, perhaps a membership to the Heritage Seed Library could be in order?

(images via the HSL)

Growing food on waste coffee – the Espresso Mushroom company…

We are big supporters of creating new things from waste, especially as most waste – with a bit of thought – can be redirected into creating new products. This can come in many forms, from buildings that  can be created from waste materials (like the Waste House in Brighton) through to new consumer products (such as truck tarpaulin bags from Freitag). And we predict that this pattern will escalate over the coming years as we start to realise that raw materials are either too scarce or expensive to use. It is a huge opportunity for designers to think in the circular rather than linear. But it is not just products that can be created – what about our food? This is exactly what the Espresso Mushroom Company are doing…

Hot Pink Oyster Mushroom Kitchen Garden Espresso Mushroom Company

Founded in Brighton, the Espresso Mushroom Company grow, and create kits allowing you to grow mushrooms from a substrate based on reclaimed coffee grounds which are gathered by bike from local cafes.

But one of the staggering elements of this project is the sheer scale of the waste coffee grounds that are produced daily – and usually get directed straight into landfill. For instance, the Espresso Mushroom Company puts it into perpective:

‘Less than 1% of the coffee cherry harvested from the coffee tree is in an espresso coffee and over 70 million cups of coffee are drunk every day in the UK.’  That’s a lot of coffee – the grounds of which are currently wasted.

And the kits are simple – open, water, grow, harvest. (and we are planning on getting one for our new studio…)

So – fresh food created from waste. What’s not to love? Check out the main Espresso Mushroom Company website for full details of the kits available…

(images via the Espresso Mushroom Company website)

2014 recap – March – Mr Popple’s Raw chocolate…

Today on our 2014 recap we are back in the realms of the responsible edibles, with a look at the fantastic Mr Popple’s Raw chocolate…

first published 18 March 2014…

We all know that eating too much chocolate is rather bad for us. It is the essential 4pm sugar hit that we all crave, yet know that really we should eat an apple instead. But, like lots of things in this big old world, not all chocolate is made equal. Some chocolate is, (dare we say it) actually rather good for you. Raw cacao chocolate has stacks of health benefits, including natural stimulants (without the sugar crash) and loads of trace minerals and other loveliness. Mr Popple’s chocolate is not only made from beautiful raw cacao, it has the most wonderful packaging.

popples chocolate 1

This is where the term eating with your eyes really comes into its own – we spotted this beautiful chocolate first by its packaging in hiSbe Food in Brighton (our latest retail design project) and just fell in love with it.

Simple, hairy manilla style brown recycled card, the packaging of Mr Popple’s differentiates each of the delicious flavours with a single, one colour print in the centre of each bar, complete with honest mis-prints and strong logo styles.

popples chocolate 2

We do have a bit of a ‘thing’ for this type of honest and simple packaging and branding as it helps to communicate the honest nature of the brand itself with incredible clarity. A brand using raw ingredients would not really fit a packaging design that is high gloss and multicoloured. It would not work. But get it right, and it really is a powerful tool indeed.

So much so in fact, that we are going to have a bar a week as our treat, not only for the deliciousness of the chocolate itself, but to collect the packaging and drool over that as well. We are, indeed, design geeks.

(photos by claire potter)

december wish list day 16 – Montezuma’s Chocolate…

If there is one time of year when you can legitimately eat mince pies and chocolate for breakfast – and nobody can say anything at all, it is Christmas. But, the fussy ones that we are, we do not want any old chocolate – we want chocolate that is organic and has strange flavours. We would like Montezuma’s Chocolate please…

Dark with Orange & Geranium

Based in West Sussex, Montezuma’s Chocolate started with one shop in Brighton in 2000 (and I actually happened to be in town that very day – and got to sample one of the best truffles I have ever tasted). Since then, Montezuma’s Chocolate has grown – and their bars can now be found in multiple locations as well as in Waitrose and other selected stores (like hiSbe) – which is an excellent thing indeed.

Treacle Tart

With flavours ranging from the standard milk, white and dark to orange and geranium, chilli and lime and treacle tart, these are certainly chocolate bars to be savoured. But, at around £2.49 or so a bar, they will not break the bank and are the absolute perfect treat for a Christmas stocking.

Sea Dog

Which one will we be hoping for? The Sea Dog – a mix of dark chocolate, lime and sea salt. Pretty much perfect…

So, if you can’t make it to one of their shops to sample the full range of buttons, truffles and other delicacies, head to one of their other stockists and grab the bars…

(images via Montezuma’s Chocolate)

december wish list day 11 – a KeepCup Brew limited edition cup…

As many of you know, we are fully committed members of the reduce and reuse community. If we can try and reduce the amount that we consume and of course, reuse as much as we can, the little actions really do add up to a much bigger action. This is why, along with the fact that we tend to be running in between sites with our coffees, that we are huge fans of the KeepCup. We have one each, and not a day goes by when we do not use them to have our drinks on the go, so for today’s wish list, we have chosen one of the new KeepCup Brew limited edition cups…

KeepCup Brew limited edition cup

Now, this is a different beast to my black and lime green plastic KeepCup – a heavier and more sophisticated version in glass, plastic and cork, the KeepCup Brew is rather lovely indeed. But, like all KeepCups, the size is barista standard (8oz or 12oz), so you are able to hand your cup over any coffee counter and get it filled without any bother at all.

At some places we have even got a discount for using our own cup – double winner.

Plus, unlike many drink on the go cups, the KeepCup is easy to drink from. We know that this should be a standard requirement for a cup, but as many of us know, this is not always the case and many occasions have found us with spillages, leaks and drips.

So, as well as getting a cup that looks beautiful, is refillable (easily) and can be drunk from, the KeepCup has a low environmental impact. The plastic versions for example, contain the same amount of plastic as 20 standard disposable polyethylene lined cups and polystyrene lids. That is not that many lattes before you are ahead in the plastic stakes, let alone the fact that the plastic is staying firmly out of landfill. And when it gets the end of it’s life – each part of the cup can be split into separate parts – easily and quickly – for recycling.

And the KeepCup Brew limited edition also has a cork band – another great material not only for it’s insulative properties but also the fact that cork has to be harvested from the cork Oak for the tree to survive. Literally use it or lose it.

A great, useful, responsible present – and one that will do good and not break the bank too.

Check out the KeepCup website for details on the range…

SPOTTED – the first winter violas – chocolate cake with edible flowers…

We had a day off yesterday for the Bank Holiday, when, of course, it rained, but at the weekend we had our village fair in the dappled sunshine which was excellent. It is lovely to meet up with neighbours and friends and have a good old chat on the village green with a slice of something decadent from the cake stand. I did, however, miss out on grabbing a slice of the cake I made – a chocolate cake with edible flowers – with the first of the new winter flowering violas and pansies.

chocolate cake with edible flowers

We love using edible flowers in our recipes – in salads in summer, and in ice cubes, but the best way is to top a dark and lush chocolate cake with edible flowers.

Plus, the dark chocolate ganache of the cake sets the colours of the flowers off beautifully. We chose violas and pansies, which have a beautiful range of colours, shapes and sizes and look very sweet on the cake. The purple also goes very well with the chocolate (and the scattering of purple edible glitter too).

We used both violas and pansies on the cake, including the smooth variety and the new ‘ruffled’ pansies, which gave a bit more interest. And if you pick the flowers, they will produce more, so do not hold back for edible decorations for your cakes.

Fancy something else for your own chocolate cake with edible flowers? Why not try (the very last) rose petals, both wild rose / japanese rose or your own from your garden, or perhaps a bright and brash fuchsia ballerina flower – or the fruit pods?

And don’t forget lavender, which is simply stunning on (and in) any cake…

(photo by claire potter)

SPOTTED – the Hookie Planter…

We do love a bit of internal planting here on the Ecospot, especially when it is hanging planting. Plants really can make the space come alive, plus it can help to soften an otherwise hard interior design scheme, especially if you are going down the industrial styled route, as we often are. Add in the air cleansing qualities of plants and you are onto a winner. So when we saw these new Hookie planters, we were, er, hooked. hookie

Founded by Finnish industrial designer Niko Laukkarinen, the Hookie was borm out of the idea of supporting multiple plants from one single fixing point. It is also rather sculptural, which is an element that we particularly like.

And you can also support the project itself, as it is currently looking for funding here.

Play Hookie With These Hanging Planters in main home furnishings  Category

(images via Hookie funded by me page)

weekend colour inspiration – natural brown and brights…

There is something rather satisfying about brown paper and manilla card. Something raw and honest. And of course, natural. But a mass of brown can be rather unappetising, in both an interior or product basis, so it needs a bit of a pop. You can pair natural brown with both black and white very successfully, but we have a bit of a thing for natural brown and brights…

Chocolate branding - beautiful.

Hello again! (yep – that is one large and long picture!) Ok – where were we – oh yes, natural brown and brights. This picture is a fantastic example of how natural brown can be paired with bright colours to give a bit more of a contemporary feel and slightly less of the ‘farmers market’ feel which you get from black and white.

Created by Isabela Rodrigues from Sweety Branding Studio in Brazil, the concept for Hnina, an organic chocolate brand was created to reflect the care, love and attention that goes into the actual chocolate itself.

As far as printing goes, this is not a cheap process at all, as to get that ‘pop’ of colour, the colour has to be on a white base, so multiple ink layers, but this kind of colour pairing can be taken into an interior design with ease. Think about raw woods with bright colours instead…

So – natural browns and brights – create a contemporary natural fee.

(image via the dieline)

wednesday walls – another type of green wall…

We are rather obsessed with planted, or green walls here in the studio. We think they are a brilliant way of utilising an otherwise abandoned surface for stuff that helps clean the air, is productive, encourages biodiversity or at the very least, looks great and reminds us of the natural world and our passing seasons. So, as we continue to be obsessed with the green wall, here is another, quite stunning example that we spotted over on Pinterest…

La Leroteca / Lacaja Arquitectos, green wall, garden in wall, flowers on facade, wood exterior wall, kindergarten

Situated in Colombia, this kindergarten by Lacaja Arquitectos has a beautifully deep facade which is planted with a variety of flowering plants and herbs. Now, this is a detail that works very well if a projecting planter could be an issue – ie, on a walkway that people could hit their head on, or if a slick detail is required.

The stones provide drainage, and it is likely that the water is allowed to drain from the top planted trough to the bottom.

If you are planning a new, cladded facade and wanted a green wall, then this could be the detail for you…

(image by Rodrigo Davila, via archdaily)

join us on our Chelsea Fringe edible city foraging walk this saturday…

Hello everyone. Apologies for the few posts that have disappeared over the past few days, we have been experiencing a bit of a tech melt down… but, we are still here (actually, we are in Berlin at present with Fixperts, but more of that next week) and we will also be getting ready for our Chelsea Fringe event this coming Saturday!

Chelsea Fringe 2014 Flyer merged

Last year, we ran a very popular guided foraging walk in Brighton, so we have decided to keep to the theme and are running another three – this time in the centre of Brighton, starting in the landscape behind Brighthelm on North Road. This will be a bit of an intro to what you can find in the city which can be easily foraged.

We will be starting at 11, with each walk taking about an hour, including a free foraged cordial drink at the end and a free copy of our very special and very new map of Brighton which you can customise yourself with the icon stickers…

Spaces on the walk are FREE but VERY limited, so please get in touch to reserve a space on one of the following time slots:

11.00 am walk / 1.00 walk / 3.00 walk – email us on hello@clairepotterdesign.com to reserve a space, or use the booking form on the right of this page…

In between times, we will be at our little stand in Brighthelm selling copies of our Edible City pack (map and stickers), plus copies of our limited edition A-Z of British Apples prints, so please do pop by and say hello! If there are any spaces left on the day you will be welcome to join one of the walks but we cannot guarantee that there will be any left!

Oh – if you have previously got in touch about reserving a space on the walks, please get in touch again – we have lost a lot of emails in our recent tech fail…

We look forward to seeing you!