Tomatillo's, Dragon Fruit & Variegated Kale
The Tomatillo is a type of Physalis (Cape Gooseberry) and very similar in composition, except it’s several times larger, resembles a green tomato (although it does become yellower as it matures) and is used primarily for cooking. Furthermore, during its ‘green stage’ the Tomatillo’s protective leafy shroud clings more tightly to the fruit, is more verdant and less brittle compared to its aforementioned relative – although it will dry-out over time. Native to Mexico and widely used in Central and South American cuisine, its flavour and texture, too, can be likened to that of a green or under ripe tomato. It can be fried, boiled or steamed and is ideal for salsas and chutneys.
Dragon Fruit, aka Pitahaya, is the flowering fruit of a species of cactus which is native to the Americas, but is widely cultivated throughout many tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. I mention all this because there seems to have been something of a upsurge in sales over the past few weeks, and, as I've said many times, whenever I see a possible trend emerging, I like to keep abreast of it. Okay, I know they're not cheap, and I realise that a lot of people question whether they actually taste of much, but can it honestly be denied that few fruits come close to the Dragon Fruit purely in terms of their visual impact? Is it any wonder therefore that the Pitahaya is such a highly favoured component in the compilation of fruit platters and ornamental displays?
On my last visit to the market a couple of day's ago I encountered several newly arrived, new season varieties of Kale which, considering the popularity currently enjoyed by Curly Kale, you might just consider worth knowing about. Firstly, there's the red variant of the above mentioned curly kale which, quelle surprise, goes by the name of Red Curly Kale, and which is just like the green-leafed variety - but red! There are also two types of Variegated Kale, one of which goes by the name of White Queen, and the other Purple Queen. I'll leave you to take a gander at the picture I took of them and decide for yourselves which one is which (no prizes for guessing correctly). And it doesn't end there, oh no, because there are also a couple of ''Ragged Jack'' varieties which, again, are available in both White and Purple (also known as respectively as White Russian and Red Russian Kale), although in this instance their hue refers mainly to the colour of their succulent, edible stalks, because the frilly, oak-like leaves of both are green (although it must be said that the Red Russian's leaves do have a purplish tinge to them). There you have it - a veritable revelry of almost limitless kale-related indulgence now awaits you .
After many weeks (actually, more like months), and after something of a false start a little while back when I announced its imminent arrival, I can now confidently (hopefully) predict that English Purple Sprouting Broccoli should have returned to (almost) full swing in the market and back on sale by the time you read this (fingers crossed).
Also on my last visit to the market I came upon the first arrivals of new season English Brussels Sprouts. Despite being considered a winter vegetable which tends to come into its own during the festive season, It's not that unusual to encounter them this early on. In fact, many people who may perhaps have what might be described as an ambivalent attitude to the Brussels sprout are more likely to enjoy the very first examples of the new season crops because they tend to be firmer, nuttier and sweeter.
English large-leafed Red Root Spinach is sumptuous and succulent and abundant at present.
Leaf Celeriac you'll probably not be surprised to learn, is celeriac with its edible greenery (which is most often removed and sold separately) still attached. Similar in shape, texture and composition to regular salad celery, the leaves and stalks of leaf celeriac also possesses a comparable flavour, but with more of a punch. Used sparingly, it's an ideal ingredient for flavouring stocks and soups, or even as a herb (celeriac is a relative of parsley). Leaf Celeriac is more expensive than its leaf-less counterpart (which let's face it, is dirt cheap these days anyway), but you do at least get two vegetables for your money, both of which, although similar, are distinct in their own right - different, but complimentary one might hazard.
Fruit of the Week
New Season Main Crop Potatoes - Ongoing 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 is 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 - Ongoing Alert!
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.
*English Iceberg Lettuce is, at the time of writing, still experiencing shortages which is said to be due to (yes you've guessed it) the hot summer and lack of rainfall. As a consequence,
*UK-grown Brown Onions are continuing to command higher market prices than imported Spanish ones.
*The market price of both Red and White Cabbage remains high.
*The market price of Dutch Aubergines remains high, which, as reported last week, may be due, according to one of our buyers, to growers in the Netherlands trying to make hay whilst the sun shines, in other words, before the Dutch season comes to an end and Spanish crops start to come on stream, which is likely to occur in the next few weeks.
*Dutch Tomatoes and Cucumbers, too, are currently very expensive - the reason for which may be related to that outlined in the paragraph above.
*Although we'll continue selling Peaches, Nectarines and Apricots for as long as they're available and our customers continue to order them, we cannot in all conscience do otherwise but advise that you seek alternatives among the several Plum varieties which are now bang in season.