Firstly, it gives me great pleasure to declare that our 2019 Christmas Specials have now been compiled and are ready to order, full details of which can be found below.
Hot on the heels of last week’s announcement of the arrival of new season South African Peaches and Nectarines comes the equally welcome news that new season South African Apricots have now joined them in the market. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to sample any for myself, but I do recall that last year’s first arrivals tasted really rather good considering how early in the season it was at the time. In terms of looks, as one might expect, they’re a tad on the small side, but for the most part possess a nice, clean complexion comprising even, yellow colouration broken only by wispy patches of deep orange blush.
South African Lychees are currently all over the market, but, being new season, the colour of their outer shells has not yet had time to fully develop into the coral-pink hue that we all admire. Instead, a significant portion of their surface is of a greenish, yellowish tinge which does leave a lot to be desired in terms of eye-appeal.
On my last visit to the market a couple of days ago I encountered some rather lovey Italian-grown Land Cress (aka Bank Cress, American Cress, Upland Cress, Creasy Cress). It’s flavour and texture is very similar to watercress, but grows in a non-aquatic environment, which means it can be propagated at home (hence, yet another of its various names being Garden Cress). Often unfairly dismissed as merely an adequate substitute for watercress, it can not only be put to all the same uses but, being slightly hardier, can also be cooked and used very much like baby spinach, including wilting and steaming.
New season Spanish Bobby Beans are currently abundant, and are a thicker and, shall we say, less refined (and therefore often cheaper) alternative to fine green beans. Despite their lack of delicacy, they nevertheless possess a sweet, grassy, pea-pod like flavour when sliced lengthwise or cut into diagonal pieces and added raw to salads, or as part of a mixed-bean medley. Furthermore, if you choose to cook with them, their meatier texture makes them resilient enough for them to be used in winter soups and stews, casseroles and curries without any substantial loss of texture or flavour.
Pink Fir Apple Potatoes are classified as a mid-sized spud, but, being a heritage variety, their size can vary quite significantly. The Pink Fir originated in France in around 1850, but didn’t really start to become popular until the early 2000s, at which point sales started to inexplicably surge. Since then, however, their popularity seems once more to have dwindled somewhat, which is a shame because they are rather gorgeous. Finger-like and usually quite knobbly, they possess translucent pale-pink skins that come away easily once cooked to reveal creamy, super smooth, nutty flesh. They work particularly well either par-boiled and sautéed or roasted in either rapeseed or olive oil then crushed and buttered and seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Nice!
After a brief rise lasting around a couple of weeks, the price of French Heritage Tomatoes has now fallen back to a much more satisfactory level. Sweet and fruity and of the approximate size of a large pea, the Tomberry is officially the world’s smallest Tomato. If these facts alone are sufficient to make you want some, then you might be interested to learn that there are presently a limited number in the market, comprising both Yellow and Orange, with each colour available separately in punnets if 125g. Be advised, though, that they won’t be cheap.
Wild Mushrooms available at the time of writing comprise Chanterelle, Girolle, Pied De Mouton and Trompette.
Fruit of the Week
English Cox Apples
Ongoing Wet Weather Alert - As mentioned last week, and which deserves to be repeated, one of our major potato suppliers reckons the recent wet weather has almost brought potato harvesting to a standstill. In most areas of the country there are some real concerns as to whether the remaining crops still in the ground, estimated at between 10-15%, will be lifted before next spring. They go on to state that crop quality overall is likely to be “variable”.
Furthermore to the above comments, and which also needs to be re-emphasised, is the fact that what remains of UK grown Cauliflowers and Green Cabbages are suffering from similar harvesting issues to potatoes.
The market price of both Spanish Coriander and Flat Parsley has almost doubled since the end of the English seasons.
The market price of Brown Onions has crept up since last week, and may continue to rise further.
Home-grown Chard appears to still be doing well, but as mentioned last week, could start to suffer as the result of a further decline in temperatures in the growing regions.
Ongoing Alert: The price of Limes remains high due to the fact that Brazil possesses all the available fruit and are making money while they can.
Ongoing Alert: The skin colour of Clementines is continuing to improve all the while, but customers may still find one or two examples here and there with paler skins than average or possessing the odd green patch.
Ongoing Alert: Green Grapes remain more difficult to obtain compared to Red varieties at present. As explained last week, this is because Brazilian and Peruvian supplies are arriving with slightly withered stalks resulting from their three week sea journey. The berries are still delicious, but compared to European crops whose season has just ended, the stalks look a little tired.
Prepared Brussels Sprouts - (1kg & 5kg pack sizes)
Peeled & Quartered Parsnips - (1kg, 2.5kg & 5kg pack sizes)
Peeled & Quarter-Cut For Roast Potatoes - (1kg, 2.5kg & 5kg pack sizes)
Brussels Sprouts - (per kilo/9kg sack)
Chantenay Carrots - (per kilo/5kg box)
Baby Roasting Parsnips - (per kilo/5kg box)
Fresh Cranberries - (200g pack)
Peeled Par-Cooked Chestnuts - (400g vac-pack)
(48 Hours Notice Required. Order on day 1 for delivery on day 3. Orders placed on Friday will be delivered the following Tuesday)
Christmas Tree 4ft (1.2m approx.)
Christmas Tree 5ft (1.5m approx.)
Christmas Tree 6ft (1.8m approx.)
Christmas Tree 4ft (with block base)
Christmas Tree Small (for table display)
Christmas Tree Stand
Mistletoe (per pack)
Holly (large bundle)
Festive Wreath (per each, small or medium)