The Secret of Icefell Kafay

Gentlefolk... I just returned from the beaches... this year's kelp is particularly aromatic... so we should be lookin' forward to a great year of roastin'! May even be able to jack the price a bit this year! A few more coins for everyone down the line if this year's kafay is Icefell's best!
— Head Roastmaster addressing the Guild assembly
The Free City of Icefell Bay is known for its unique Kafay. The roasted pits from this region are said to possess a unique flavor profile that cannot be matched by product from any other region. The "secret" to this unique flavor is debated throughout the Kingdoms and the Frontier - wherever Kafay is consumed. But if one were to ask an Icefell resident, there's no secret at all - the flavor comes from roasting the pits over the dried kelp harvested from Icefell Bay.


Origin & Source

Between the shore area shallows and the abyssal deeps of the heart of Icefell Bay, there are vast regions of sea floor covered by forests of Coldwater Kelp. This kelp grows in fronds that can be two hundred feet tall - sea depth permitting. This kelp is harvested by boatmen from Icefell and the nearby villages employing cutter nets, followed by a few more boats that collect the floating, cut fronds.

Once ashore, the fronds are laid out on the beaches to be dried by the sun. After three days of drying, the fronds are chopped into fine pieces and pressed into brick molds. The bricks are then stacked loosely in covered sheds and allowed to finish drying. This part of the process takes between 2 and 6 weeks, depending on the dampness of the weather. Because of a reliance on the warming sun, the harvest is limited to about four or five months of the year around the First Turning Holiday.

Life & Expiration

If kept dry, the finished bricks can be stored for use as a general fuel source almost indefinitely. The annual harvest, coupled with the annual lumber harvest from the nearby forests, is usually more than sufficient for the general heating and cooking fuel needs of the city. But the Roasters have found that they need "fresh" made bricks. Those stored for more than a season do not impart the same flavors to the Kafay product. This is why the Roasters are legally entitled to the first choice of each season's new kelp bricks.

History & Usage


According to the Annals of the Roastmasters' Guild, the first use of dried kelp bricks as roasting fuel occurred during a particularly good harvest year when one roaster decided to save a few coins by burning the cheaper dried kelp blocks harvested by the sea farmers instead of contracting for large quantities of wood. The resulting pits - and the Kafay beverage brewed from them - took on a unique flavor. Most thought of this flavor as "fruitier" and attributed it to something in the trees themselves, but it was in fact the unique vegetal flavors and aromas of the kelp itself. Kelp is a common food source in Icefell as well, but the food products are quite salty - salty enough to mask the vegetal flavors of the kelp. Thus, most Folk never drew a parallel between kelp flavor and the Kafay product.

Everyday use

Dried kelp is a commonly used fuel in the Icefell region; it is used in private homes to fuel ovens, where it is a much more efficient and uniform fuel source than wood or charcoal. In some circumstances, it is also burned in home hearths to provide warmth in the winter, but most Folk prefer the pleasing glow of wood fires for this purpose.

Industrial Use

The members of the Roastmaster's Guild in Icefell Bay are given first access to the dried kelp bricks prepared each year. The timing is perfect for the Kafay industry because the new bricks are ready at just the same time as the first Kafay cherries are ready for harvest. Once the harvest is complete, the remaining kelp bricks are made available to the general population of Icefell for personal use.
Kelp Drying in the Sun
Fresh kelp smells of the sea.
Dried kelp bricks have a distinct herbal aroma. Expert Roastmasters are trained to detect the unique hints of flavors that produce the desired distinct flavor of Icefell Kafay.
Fresh kelp is overpoweringly salty with unique vegetal undertones.
Bits of dried brick used as seasoning also mostly salty but with distinct herbal flavors.
Fresh kelp is a pale green color.
Dried kelp bricks are a greenish-tinged brown. As they age, the green continues to fade.
Alternate Uses
In addition to being one of the two primary fuels used in Icefell, dried kelp bricks are also used as a seasoning in some local dishes for which Icefell is renowned. Bits of dried bricks are flaked off and used to season seafood soups and stews. Some of the kelp is set aside and dried into sheets which are used to wrap other prepared foods - the edible wrapping adds considerable saltiness but the drying also concentrates the unique herbal flavors of the kelp.
Haul that chain, ye slackers! The Roasters be needin' their kelp, an' we be needin' our coin! We got lotsa kelp ter cut afore we're done this day. An' the driers be waitin' fer this load. That's it... haul that chain!
— Boat captain admonishing his crew to work faster.

Cover Image by Gundula Vogel from Pixabay
Drying Kelp Image by Pexels from Pixabay


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