Halloween Specials are now ready to order...
Firstly, I'd like to start by reminding you all that our Halloween Specials are now ready to order, a complete run-down of which can be obtained upon request from your account manager or order-taker. They'll also be able to provide prices and info on lead-times for those items which may require extra notice. To recap, what's on offer includes Decorative Pumpkins, Mixed Decorative Gourds, Mixed Edible Squashes, (pictured below) Corn-On-The-Cob, Fresh Chestnuts, Toffee Apples and Chocolate Apples.
I mentioned a couple of weeks' ago how a rise in winter season sales strongly indicates that chefs seem to be more accepting of the fact that Peruvian Asparagus isn't something that should be distained purely because it isn't European, and, in particular, not home-grown. I thought, therefore, that in light of this burgeoning recognition, some of you might be interested to learn that Peruvian White Asparagus has now made its way into the market. Traditionally the speciality of German growers (it is produced in the UK, but in very limited volumes by comparison), what I encountered, judging by appearance alone, compared very favourably with anything I've ever seen coming out of Europe. I should add, though, that it won't be cheap and availability will be limited, so be advised to pre-order.
The UK produces some truly amazing fresh produce, but there are areas where it is generally felt that, when comparing like-with-like, French producers often just have the edge when it comes to Heritage or Heirloom veg. I think it may be because the French never relinquished their bonds with the land to the extent that the British did in the wake of the industrial revolution, which in this country brought with it a far greater degree of urbanisation and consequently a greater reliance on convenience in terms of food production. We are now, though, beginning to catch up with our past, and if I could use just one example which reinforces that conviction it would be in the form of the Mixed-Coloured Heritage Carrots (aka Rainbow Carrots) I encountered on my most recent visit to the market. I will merely state my opinion on them thusly: they are probably the brightest, most intensely-coloured and overall best looking heritage carrots, irrespective of origin, I've come across in a long, long, time.
Just in season, bright green with a deep, cherry-red blush, the English Howgate (aka Howgate Wonder) Apple was originally bred as a dessert fruit, but has over time acquired quite a reputation as a truly great all-round culinary apple. This is because it contains just the right amount of acid to facilitate the tenderisation of the fruit during cooking whilst still preserving a high degree of firmness and texture, yet possesses enough natural sweetness to reduce the need to add extra sugar to counteract the tartness of the acid. It's ideal for use in both sweet and savoury dishes, dressings and sauces, as an accompaniment to various types of cheese, or, indeed, for the making of cider.
English Comice Pears should be readily available at present. Large and bulbous, they possess golden skins with a feint, pale-orange blush and slightly grainy, sweet, melting flesh which is ever-so-slightly suggestive of almond-infused vanilla. Nice!
New season North American Fresh Cranberries have now begun to arrive. Packaged in 340g bags, they should be available to order by the time you read this.
English Rhubarb is now finished and been replaced by Dutch Glasshouse-grown Champagne Rhubarb, which won't be cheap, so be sure to get a quote before committing yourselves.
The UK salad season is almost at an end, with only Iceberg and Cos Lettuces still available. This means that Lollorosso, Biondi, Frisee, etc, are all now being imported from France. Furthermore, customers should henceforth start to see an overall improvement in the quality of Tomatoes as new season Spanish crops start to come on stream.
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, but we cannot in all conscience do otherwise but advise you that their quality isn't great and that you should seek alternatives, such as Plums, if at all possible.
Good quality South African Easy-Peel Citruses are becoming increasingly more difficult to source as we continue to await the full transition to new season Spanish and Moroccan crops.
At the time of writing there appears to be a shortage of English Spring Onions (which is apparently due to the recent spate of wet weather), but by the time you read this the situation will have hopefully improved.
English Broad Beans, Runner Beans and Fresh Peas are still clinging-on, but as mentioned previously, are now way past their best and not worth considering.
As mentioned overleaf, English Rhubarb is now at an end. Glasshouse-grown Dutch Champagne Rhubarb is available, but at a considerably higher cost.
Also mentioned overleaf, the UK salad season is almost at an end, leaving only Iceberg and Cos Lettuces as the only homegrown examples still available.
The UK Broccoli season is due to wind-down soon, but it is reckoned is should still be good for at least another couple of weeks.
Homegrown Red Cabbage is currently a bit on the pricey side.
The quality of Sweet Potatoes is somewhat erratic at present because of a delay in the arrival of new season U.S. crops.