The Wellington Weekly
NEWS of the arrival of English new season Crown Prince Squash should undoubtedly be welcomed, but perhaps greeted nevertheless with at least a smidge of melancholy. Why so? Because Crown Prince is a winter squash, so its appearance is akin to a tap on the shoulder from mother nature to draw our attention to the fact that the end of summer is in sight. August contains no shortage of such indicators, many of which will evoke memories of being a kid watching from the shoreline your parents starting to pack away the beach towels, whereupon you come to the realisation that your day at the seaside is nearly over.
Anyway, back to the subject in hand, which is the arrival of Crown Prince Squash, whose shape is similar to that of a West Indian style pumpkin, but whose skin is most often a pale shade of green - although darker green ones are not unusual. Their flesh is orange and fibrous, surrounds a pulpy seed cavity at the centre and is very much like a Butternut squash in terms of its texture, composition and flavour. It can be cooked and used in exactly the same way as Butternut, but with the added appeal of usually being much cheaper - but please be mindful of the fact that they can range quite considerably in size and weight, from just a couple of kilos to as much as 10kg or even more.
It was very remiss of me, I know, but I forgot to mention last week the arrival of new season English Marrow. Measuring around 30cm in length and quite slender, their manageable size would make them ideal for stuffing - although each half might admittedly still be a bit too big to serve as a single portion.
New season English Swede has now arrived. The ones I encountered on my most recent visit to the market a few days ago originated in Lancashire and Somerset, with the average size of both lots of examples being roughly that of a large grapefruit. New season English Carrots are now trickling into the market and we will, in time, be eschewing imported carrots entirely in favour of the homegrown ones once they become sufficiently established to sustain demand. However, as is invariably the case at this time every year, this announcement comes with a warning, which is that because their skins have not had time to harden (or ’’set’’) they are particularly susceptible to the heat and can get a bit sweaty and start to decay at the tips as a consequence. Our advice, as always, therefore, is that you only order enough for your immediate needs, and that if for reasons of practicality you must keep some in reserve, at least store them out of their bags somewhere dark and cool.
English Red Root Spinach remains outstanding, being large-leafed, lush and verdant.
Dutch Bunched Rainbow Radishes are large, bulbous, crisp and succulent. They possess nice, even colouration, with each composition of hues comprising of Red, Yellow/White and Purple. Beautiful!
As its name might suggest, French Lautrec Rose Garlic comes from Lautrec and is characterized by it’s pink tunicae (which is the Latin plural of tunica and means ‘’layer’’). Unlike traditional stringed or plaited garlic, the bulbs of Lautrec garlic are clustered around a rigid central stem, attached to which is a label displaying its proof of origin and authenticity. Because it undergoes a minimum drying time of 15 days, Lautrec Rose Garlic possesses a distinctive and highly developed flavour and is well suited to long-term storage. Each cluster weighs 1kg, which can yield around 14-16 bulbs.
Black Garlic is achieved by using a special technique whereby it is ‘aged’ over several weeks by carefully regulating its exposure to heat and moisture. This produces garlic of a much darker hue with a softer, more velvety texture and a mellower flavour that’s been described as possessing hints of molasses and balsamic vinegar. The main drawback with Black Garlic, however, is that the very softness for which it is most prized makes it a real challenge to peel. The good news is that it’s now available ready-peeled and ready to use straight out of the packet - or, in this case, straight out of its own small, airtight, re-sealable plastic tub. Each tub contains the equivalent of one bulb of garlic and there is no minimum order requirement. Be advised, though, that they’re not cheap, so please ask for a price before committing yourselves.
I’m pleased to announce the arrival of English Greengages Plums. Flavour-wise, they’re unsurpassable, but I have to admit that these early examples were a bit on the scruffy side, so should perhaps be reserved for purely culinary purposes.