Nectacots, Cyprus Potatoes & White Skinned Onions

If I was to ask you to name a fruit which has the texture of a Nectarine, is the size, colour and shape of an Apricot and whose flavour possesses elements of both, you might perhaps be able to come up with a name that resembles something like “Nectacot”. And you’d be right. Beautiful to behold and very, very expensive, they’ve not long arrived in the market from South Africa and should hopefully be available to order by the time you read this – but, just to be on the safe side, try giving us at least a couple of extra days’ notice beforehand.

Peruvian Figs have now arrived in season and may, at some point in the not too distant future, supplant their Brazilian counterparts as our preferred fig of choice (which isn’t much of a choice to be fair, because Brazil and Chile are the only two sources currently available). But the differences between the two are quite stark nevertheless (at least in terms of looks), inasmuch as the teardrop curves of the Peruvian ones are more delicately and intricately defined and their colour deeper and richer. If you’d like to give the new arrivals a go, be sure to ask your order-taker for the “black” ones.

Our Dried Figs and Dried Apricots have now changed packaging and will henceforth be available in clear containers with each comprising 250g of petit, tender and beautifully presented fruits arranged in rows of diminishing circles. Very nice.

At a time when there’s such a vast array of readily available specialist Potato varieties tailored to an equally vast array of catering applications, let’s not forget that there exists a traditional favourite which can still hold its own with the very best of them. The Cyprus Potato (whose name, like the Jersey Royal, denotes the region in which it’s actually grown) is large and long and possesses a flaky skin that’s stained with the rustic orange tinge of the earth that bore them. One of the most distinctive and celebrated of all spud varieties, but whose popularity over recent years has sadly declined, their slightly waxy, slightly creamy yellow flesh possesses a unique texture that enables them to be successfully used in a variety of ways, such as baked, wedged, roasted, boiled or even chipped. The upshot is that the market is presently experiencing a bit of an influx of new season Cypruses, which, although not cheap, are worth every penny and should be seriously considered.

I encountered some lovely Italian White-Skinned Onions during my last trip to the market a few days ago, which were large and ghostly-pale, with a slightly pearl-like lustre to their translucent papery-thin outer layers of skin. White Onions are used extensively in Central and South American cuisines, and despite their shape, perhaps share more in common with Spring Onions than they do with the more common Brown or Red-skinned varieties, being of a similar texture, as well as possessing a drier, tangier flavour compared to either of the other two.

Spanish Broad Beans are looking really good at present, being firm, fresh and vibrant, and very, very tender – so tender, in fact, that it’s reckoned that, in the youthful state they’re currently in, the Spanish themselves don’t even bother removing the beans from the pods, but instead cook them whole.

English Chard, available as individual colours comprising Red, Yellow and White, as well as a Rainbow compilation of all three, is still looking good, despite fears over recent weeks that a fall in temperatures might see it struggling to hold its own.

Wild Mushrooms are starting to become a little scarce in terms of volume, but there is still a decent selection of varieties available, namely Yellow Chanterelle, Girolle, Pied De Mouton and Trompette.

Fruit of the Week

Kentish Cox Apples

Market Alert

  • We’d like to remind customers that both Broccoli Florets and Cauliflowers are still on the small side and we urge you to bear this mind when ordering. Peppers, too, are still experiencing size inconsistencies, and we therefore further advise you to order them by weight.

  • The availability of English and French Romanesco is currently very tight.

  • At the time of writing, one of our buyers has reported a market shortage of both Flat Parsley and Coriander.

  • Delayed production of Sugar Snaps and Mange Tout in both Egypt and Guatemala means imports from either are not likely to arrive for at least another 3-4 weeks. When this type of situation occurs we can normally rely on Kenyan crops to bridge the gap, but the Kenyan growing regions are experiencing some extremely wet weather at present - and Mange Tout and Sugar Snaps don’t like it wet, because it causes what are known as “pepper spots”. Very unsightly, as you can imagine. The upshot is that supplies of both products will be limited and erratic for at least the next four weeks.

  • Furthermore, another victim of the wet weather in Kenya is Tenderstem Broccoli, whose production will also be adversely affected. Normally we’d recommend a switch to Purple Sprouting Broccoli, but most of the ground in the UK where it’s grown is currently frozen solid, making harvesting impossible.

  • At the time of writing, the quality of Leaf Spinach remains problematic.

  • 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.

  • Sweet Citruses across the board (Clementines, Satsumas and Oranges) are experiencing market shortages. It was predicted last week that there was a better than average chance that Spanish Satsumas may have finished altogether by the end of the week. At the time of writing, however, they are still holding on - but for how much longer is uncertain.

  • Lebanese Baby Cucumbers are very scarce at present. Nothing to get too worked-up over you might imagine, but I bet you any money you like that now availability is tight someone will suddenly need 20 boxes for a last minute event.