Hello again, and welcome to the first Market Report of 2020. Firstly, let me apologise for whetting your appetites with the news of the arrival of Sicilian Blood Orange in the last Market Report, only for many of you to then be denied the opportunity to get your hands on any because of an oversight which meant them not being made available for sale. This has now been rectified. Furthermore, I’d like to announce the subsequent arrival of two more iconic types of Orange, namely Sanguina (pictured) and Seville – both of which hail from Spain. The Sanguina, as its name might suggest, is a type of Blood Orange, but without the same depth or intensity of redness as the “full-blooded” Sicilian variety. In fact, the Sanguina’s bloody colouration tends to demonstrate itself merely as a scattering of red flecks which culminate in a jagged corona of deep-red which encircles the flesh around the inside edge of the rind. Flavour-wise, the Sanguina is very similar to that of Blood Orange, but whereas the latter becomes mellower the bloodier it gets, the Sanguina tends to retain more of its slightly sharper elements. The Seville orange wouldn’t win many admirers as far as its looks are concerned – but that’s beside the point, because its sole purpose is that of a culinary fruit. The Seville is a type of bitter orange with thick, often rough-textured, dimpled skin, whose naturally high pectin levels make it particularly well suited for making marmalade and compotes. Furthermore, as well as being extensively utilised to flavour all manner of desserts, liqueurs and confectionery, the juice is widely used in Central and South American cuisine as a marinade for meat,.
South African Sapphire Plums are likely to replace Spanish Angelina as our standard variety before too long. Small in stature, its skin is pinkish-red and its fibrous flesh pale-yellow. Its flavour is reminiscent of vanilla infused with mild citrus, and rather pleasant it is, too.
There’s a good chance, also, that by the time you read this we’ll have switched from Egyptian to Spanish Strawberries. Very flavoursome and with a better shelf-life than their north African predecessors, they do however tend to vary in size somewhat, but are impressive to behold, nevertheless.
South African Peaches and Nectarines are both still abundant, but it’s predicted they’ll soon start to dwindle, and likely to have become very difficult before the month is out.
As you’d expect at this time of year, leafy green veg is thriving, and although the availability of Portuguese Hispi Cabbage is a bit tight at present, what there is in the market is of excellent quality. Although January King Cabbage has been around since before Christmas, this will be the month (as you’d expect, judging by its name) when it really comes into its own. And for those of you whose diners may not have already had their surfeit of Brussels Sprouts, the good news is that they remain a strong presence in the market and, in my humble opinion, make the best bubble ‘n’ squeak. Romanesco is currently of quite a good size and as attractive as any I’ve seen in a long time.
Both Spanish and Egyptian Fresh Peas are now in season, and having sampled both, I’d say they were equally delicious in terms of their nuttiness and sweet, grassy taste and aroma - but with the Spanish perhaps just having the edge. Spanish Broad Beans, too, have just arrived, but I have thus far not had a chance to taste, so I can’t comment, except to say they look rather promising.
STOP PRESS: I’ve this very moment received a text message from our buyer in the market informing that Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb has literally just arrived, more of which I shall speak next week.
Fruit of the Week
At the time of writing, Yellow Plums are unavailable and currently off-sale.
The availability of Spanish Leaf Clementines is currently very tight, and very expensive as a result. Our stock easy peelers are going to be Moroccan Nadarcotts which are sweet and flavourful.
Plum Tomatoes and Plum Vine Tomatoes are currently experiencing market shortages.
Despite Brussels Tops still being widely available, Brussels Stems/Stalks are no longer to be found anywhere in the market.
As mentioned overleaf, the availability of Portuguese Hispi Cabbage is a bit tight, but what there is available is very good.
Mixed Squashes have finished, with the only remaining options being Crown Prince and Onion Squash, both of which are still available to order as individual varieties.
English Rainbow Chard and Spring Green is very scarce at present, and consequently very expensive. Spring green heads will be small, but great in quality as well as being more tender as a result.
As mentioned overleaf, South African Peaches and Nectarines are at present still abundant, but from here on are likely to start getting less so.
Onions are proving somewhat difficult at present, and are consequently in short supply and expensive.
A rise in the popularity of European Apples and Pears in the Middle East (it was news to me, too) has ultimately resulted in shortages at home. This won’t mean they’ll become unobtainable, but it will mean they’ll be less surplus and therefore higher prices across the board.