English Brussels Tops have started
As mentioned briefly last time, this week sees the launch of our world famous Halloweeeeen Specials - a thoughtfully selected range of products available at lower than normal prices to help make your Halloween celebrations that little bit spookier.
A detailed list of what's on offer can be gleaned from the special attachment to your weekly mail-shot, or from your account manager or any order-taker upon request, but here's a brief rundown highlighting the delights available to you. Firstly, there are 3 sizes of Decorative Pumpkin; there's also a 10Kg selection of Mixed Decorative Gourds; a 10kg selection of Mixed Edible Squashes; Crown Prince Squash; Vac Pack Corn-On-The Cob; both Fresh Chestnuts and Vac Pack Peeled & Cooked Chestnuts; Howgate Wonder Cooking Apples, as well as Toffee Apples and Chocolate Apples. Please be advised that some of the items on offer will be subject to a minimum order requirement and/or may require up to 48 hours notice.
I did hear a rumour during my last venture into the realms of the market a few days' ago that English Brussels Tops had started. Although I didn't physically encounter any at the time, I have it on good authority that they will have made an appearance by the time you read this. The Brussels Top is the name given to the uppermost foliage which forms a leafy cluster at the end of the long stalk along whose length the Brussels Sprouts themselves are attached. Similar in composition to spring and winter greens but with thinner stems and shorter, rounder leaves, Brussels Tops possess a mild, kale-like flavour that’s much sweeter in comparison to the plant’s often bitter-tasting sprouting buds. They’re also very tender, so can be prepared and cooked very much like spinach or pak choi, including stir-frying. Sales of Brussels Tops are never sufficient to secure our early retirement to the south of France, which is a shame, because they're a fantastic veg and the reason I'm banging-on about them now.
English Savoy Cabbage is dark, crinkly, squeaky and firm, and English Cavalo Nero (Black Cabbage) is no less impressive. English Hispi Cabbage is enjoying a bit of surge in popularity at present, and rightly so; sometimes referred to as Sweetheart Cabbage, it is a pointy-headed variety whose pale, mild, tender leaves are similar in flavour and texture to spring greens and which can be cooked in the same way.
English Curly Kale, both the Green and the less common Red variety, continues to flourish and, with the onset of the colder weather (which it likes), can only but improve still further.
Home-grown Parsnips are looking exceptionally fine at present, being of a pure, creamy-white, unblemished complexion and exuding a delightfully sweet aroma which fills our packing rooms with their heady scent. Both Swede and Turnip, too, are highly recommended.
It's around this time of year that we often experience a bit of a shortage (and an accompanying hike in price) of Fresh Figs, as we switch form Mediterranean, Turkish and north African imports to those coming from much more further afield, namely Brazil.
Apricots have now been take off-sale as a result of supplies having dried-up. Both Peaches and Nectarines are still available - just, but their quality is, in our opinion, far from adequate (see Market Alert, overleaf) and I therefore predict that their presence on list of produce is strictly limited.
At the time of writing, our standard Easy-Peelers remain South African Nardocotts, which are admittedly a bit scruffy and somewhat pricey due to their season soon to come to a close, but very sweet and tasty nevertheless. They will, over the coming few weeks, eventually be replaced by new season Spanish Satsumas and Clementines - which, although already arriving in the market in dribs and drabs, are not quite ready to offer for sale just yet.
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 down this year, and prices are higher as a consequence.
Peaches, Nectarines & Apricots - Ongoing Alert!
Apricots are now defunct and have consequently been removed from sale. We'll continue offering Peaches and Nectarines for sale 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.
English Iceberg Lettuce remains expensive and lacking in substance.
South African Easy-Peel Citruses are becoming scarcer as we await the full transition to new season Spanish crops.
At the time of writing, there appears to be a market shortage of Brazilian Cantaloupe Melons.
Although the arrival of Spanish and Moroccan Tomatoes has meant a steady easing of prices since last week, there does at present appear to be a bit of a shortage of Plum Vine Tomatoes.
The market price of Aubergines remains high.
Spanish Capsicums are very expensive at present.
English Sweetcorn has essentially finished for the season.
At the time of writing, English Fresh Peas are still in the market, but are likely to finish soon.
Both English Broad Beans and Runner Beans are now way past their best and unlikely to be around for much longer.
English Rhubarb was very scarce during my last visit to the market a few day's ago - which may be an indication that it's finally come to an end. There have been some organically-grown examples cropping-up here and there, but appeared to be a bit woody and not particularly attractive to look at.