The Wellington Weekly
You may recall that on the last occasion I had a chance to speak to you (which was a couple of weeks ago) the arrival of French Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Red Chief Apples was predicted as being imminent. Well, true to form, just such an occurrence did in fact come to pass during the interim period. On my most recent visit to the market a few days ago I was particularly struck by the Granny Smiths, which were unblemished, bright and verdant; crisp in texture, clean and sharp in terms of flavour. Despite being renowned primarily as a dessert apple, I personally like to use them to add a touch of fruitiness to spicy savoury dishes, such as curries, and to help give extra dimension to squash-based soups. I did hear word of the arrival of English Cox's Apples, but, at the time of writing have yet to encounter any in person, so to speak.
Another new arrival since I was last in communication with you all is that of English Victoria Plums (which this year seemed to come on stream quite late). Whether justified or not, I think it's fair to state that the Victoria is the most widely known and highly prized of all English plum cultivars. However, I think it’s fair to say that few, if any, would make a case for the Victoria as being the most attractive of fruits - that’s not to say that they’re ugly exactly, but merely that, among the vast range of plum cultivars, it cannot claim to be anywhere near the prettiest. But what it lacks in the looks department, it more than compensates for in terms of flavour. Possessing skins which are a rustic composition of variegated hues encompassing pale green to deep maroon, early examples tend to be quite firm, which makes them ideally suited to culinary uses such as sauces, jams and preserves, At this stage the flavour of their yellow-green flesh comprises an almost equal balance of what I can best describe as sugar and lime juice. However, as they mature and become softer, they also become mellower as the citrusy tartness diminishes and evolves into something rather more vanilla-esque. Very nice indeed!
Possessing paler skin, softer, yellower flesh and a sweeter smoother flavour, Golden Kiwis tend to appeal to everyone - even those who aren't particularly partial to the standard green kiwi. Anyway, new season New Zealand Golden Kiwis have arrived in the market and should be available for sale by the time you read this. Another kiwi cultivar in which you may be interested is the Kiwi Berry. Often erroneously marketed as Baby Kiwi, the Kiwi Berry is in fact a fully-grown fruit and a unique variety in its own right. Grape-sized and possessing smooth, tender and entirely edible green skins, their flavour is definitely kiwi-like, but more akin to that of the aforementioned Golden Kiwi than their more acidic green cousins. The ones I recently encountered in the market were from Chile and available in 175g punnets, which should yield around 15-18 in number.
English Mixed Coloured Chantenay Carrots, as well as English Piccolo Parsnips have arrived in the market. I won't dwell on the Chantenays, because by now everyone is quite familiar with them, except to say that the colours in the mix comprise Orange, White/Yellow and Purple. I will, though, take a few sentences to describe the Piccolo Parsnips because, as with the Kiwi Berries mentioned earlier, they are often mistakenly referred to as Baby Parsnips, which they aren't. They're a separate, fully grown parsnip cultivar which roughly measure on average perhaps 10cm in length with a diameter of around 1-1.5cm at the thick end. They are suitable for roasting whole without the need to peel them or remove the central core, which tends to be more succulent and less woody than regular-sized parsnip. Unfortunately, I was unable to take a snap of either the Piccolos or the Chantenays because, at the time of writing, we didn't have any in stock and all those in the market were still sealed in polythene.
You can't eat them, but instead merely marvel at the sheer magnificence of the range and scale of colours, patterns and profiles arrayed in the 7kg selections of Mixed Gourds pictured here.
Tantalising, aren't they? And If you feel the irresistible desire to posses them, you can - but at a price, because they won't be cheap. Furthermore, we may initially require perhaps an extra day's notice, which means that if you order them on day one, you'll get them on day three.
Fruit of the Week
The Market Alert
- Due to the hotter than average temperatures during the summer months, and the overall lack of rain throughout the year, the volume of new season Main Crop Potatoes are likely to be down this year, and prices predicted to be very high as a consequence. We will, of course, keep you more fully informed as we become more aware of further developments.
- Cultivated Mushrooms (i.e. Button, Cup, Flat Mushrooms, etc.) are continuing to experience shortages and consequent high prices as a result of the excessively hot summer.
- I have been advised also that the market availability of Oyster Mushrooms appears to be experiencing difficulties, but at the present time it is unclear as to whether this may be connected with the problems faced by mushrooms generally, as outlined in the previous paragraph.
- English Iceberg Lettuce is, at the time of writing, experiencing shortages which is said to be due to (yes you've guessed it) the hot summer and lack of rainfall.
- UK-grown Brown Onions are at present more expensive in the market than imported Spanish ones.
- The market price of both Red and White Cabbage is up by around 30% since last we spoke.
- The market price of Dutch Aubergines is up - and may be due to rise even further. According to one of our buyers, this could be due to growers in the Netherlands trying to make a quick buck before the Dutch season comes to an end and Spanish crops start to come on stream, which is likely to occur in the next 4-6 weeks.
- Dutch Tomatoes, too, have risen in price, the reason for which may be related to that outlined in the previous paragraph concerning Aubergines.
- Cherries are no longer being offered for sale.
- Purple Sprouting Broccoli remains elusive and therefore off-sale.
- At the time of writing, White Asparagus is still unavailable in the market.