Valentine's Veg, Solo Garlic & Orange Cauliflowers

Throughout history many foodstuffs have claimed to possess aphrodisiacal properties to help strengthen the libido. So, to mark St Valentine’s Day, I’d like to explore a few of those which aren’t too rude for a family-friendly publication. Notwithstanding its suggestive shape, Asparagus has more to offer than mere symbolism. It contains high levels of vitamin E.

Being red (the colour of passion), vaguely heart-shaped and possessing high levels of vitamin C, Strawberries are considered the perfect food for Valentine’s.

Chilli Peppers contain the heat-producing chemical capsaicin, which stimulates the nerve-endings, quickens the pulse-rate and causes the release of endorphins.

Ancient Greeks believed that if a couple ate from the same beetroot they would fall in love. Perhaps the red colour, which mimics a natural flush, helped convince people that they were increasing their romance. Modern science has suggested that they were on the right path.

In Greek mythology Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love was the first to plant a pomegranate seed. For thousands of years the pomegranate has symbolised fertility and abundance and it has been suggested that the forbidden fruit mentioned in the bible was actually a pomegranate rather that an apple.

Another way to bring a bit of romance to your Valentines menus is by the use of edible flowers from our specially themed Valentines Day Flower Wheels. Ask your order taker for more details.

Spanish Peaches and Nectarines are still a presence in the market, but an unreliable one. What I mean by this is that there will be some days when both are obtainable, other days when only one or the other might make an appearance. I suggest, therefore, that you let your order-taker know if you’d be prepared to substitute one for the other in the event that what you want isn’t available.

English Cox and Russet Apples are still fairly abundant. But whereas the Cox’s remain crisp and sharply-sweet, the Russets have matured to the point of mellow ripeness whereby their flavour has become reminiscent of cider with hints of almond.

I’ve spoken before about Solo Garlic (which consists of a single, round clove without any segments and resembles a pickled onion), and I’ve spoken about Wet Garlic (newly harvested garlic which hasn’t been dried-out and is therefore still moist and juicy). I haven’t, though, spoken about Solo Wet Garlic - not because I wasn’t aware of its existence, but because I’d never actually encountered any. That all changed when I last visited the market, during which time I encountered quite a lot of it - from South Africa. It can be used just like regular garlic (although crushing it whole might prove a bit of an endeavour), but is particularly well suited to being either thinly sliced or grated when raw, or baked whole in its thick, flexible, slightly rubbery skin.

At the time of writing, both Spanish Purple and Orange Cauliflower are available in the market. Although I usually accompany such an announcement with a picture of the Purple variety, merely because it’s generally the more eye-catching of the two, this time I thought I’d feature a picture of the Orange, simply because it’s the boldest, brightest and most colourful I’ve seen in a very long while.

Whilst on my most recent excursion into the market, one of our buyers remarked that new season Dutch Cucumbers had just arrived, which, he went on, meant that English cues would be soon to follow. This observation turned out to be more insightful than he perhaps realised at the time because, just a mere few minutes later, what should we encounter but a pallet-load of English cucumbers. It’s a funny old world.

The availability of Wild Mushrooms is still a bit patchy, but during my last visit to the market a few days ago Chanterelle, Pied De Mouton, Trompette and a few Ceps (Porcini) were all still obtainable.

Fruit of the Week


Market Alert

  • Ongoing Alert: Poor weather conditions in certain growing regions of Spain, Italy and Morocco is expected to have an impact on the availability and/or quality of much of the produce we rely on at this time of year. This including Aubergines, Broccoli, Courgettes, Cucumbers, Capsicums, Medium Salad Tomatoes, Baby Leaves, Cos, Iceberg and Gem Lettuces, as well as some Citrus Fruits.

  • Ongoing Alert: English Potato crops are continuing to suffer the affects brought about by water-logged fields and reduced harvesting as a consequence of record-breaking levels of rainfall over the last couple of months.

  • The availability of Pineapples remains tight.

  • At the time of writing, French Heritage Tomatoes are still unavailable - although Spanish and Moroccan are available.

  • The market price of Bramley Apples is currently high.

  • As mentioned overleaf, the availability of both Peaches and Nectarines is currently a bit unpredictable.

  • Ongoing Alert: The quality of Butternut Squash is still variable, but is only skin deep - the flesh itself is unaffected and thereby still good to eat. Be assured that the situation will improve when new season South African alternatives start arriving.

  • Ongoing Alert: White Grapes will be very short during the early part of February resulting from very poor weather in the growing regions of both Peru and South Africa.

  • Ongoing Alert: Yellow Courgettes remain very expensive.

  • Ongoing Alert: Colder weather in the UK has meant that Bananas are taking longer to ripen once they arrive here.

  • Ongoing Alert: Plum Tomatoes and Plum Vine Tomatoes are still experiencing market shortages at present.

  • Ongoing Alert: Portuguese Hispi Cabbage remains scarce. English Spring Greens are also still in short supply.

  • Ongoing Alert: Onions are still in short supply and expensive as a result.

  • Ongoing Alert: As has been mentioned over the past several weeks, a rise in the popularity of European Apples and Pears in the Middle East has ultimately resulted in shortages at home.