Market Report in association with Wild Harvest, 25 Feb 2013

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th February 2013

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

In association with

My fellow weekly seasonal bloggers may be focusing on goodies which have seen us through the winter. As much as I covet the cabbage family, gush over game and relish a good root it's surely time to move on now. Here's a fair amount of detail on some of the finest things to eat on the planet we call Earth. Excuse my prescience, but I've had a stab at exactly when in March you should expect all three. Morel Mushrooms
  • Our single biggest selling line year in year out.
  • A natural sauce catcher, or ideal for a good stuffing towards the end of the season.
  • Elegant, yet modern and interesting visually.
  • Delicate and smokey in flavour.
  • One of the few mushrooms that can handle and indeed need a little wash.
  • Relatively low in water content, so will hold up in the pan which helps the yield to pound note ratio.  A true luxury seasonal ingredient.
  • My Turkish contacts offered perfect specimens this week, but I declined. As usual the first price is for the uninitiated. Just so we don't throw the baby out with the bath water here's my usual game plan, and a few facts:-
  • The season typically runs from March until the end of May.
  • Turkey produces the best morels.
  • Morels are not a cash cow.
  • These precious hand grenades can start sporing and melting down if exposed to temperature extremes.
  • Get in as early as the market can stand, and get out before you get caught by that nasty and expensive last shipment.
  • Gun for Morchella Esculenta, accept Morcella Conica but reject any other varities or wannabes.
We will see the first morels from Turkey by the end of next week. A welcome sign of Spring for sure. Alphonso Mangoes Almost as cherished as cricket in India. The name stems from a Portugeuse colonialist called Alfonso. You will see both spellings used. This may not please many of my colleagues, but I have never eaten a South American mango that comes close. The texture is never stringy and the flavour profile knocks spots off other varieties. I find them sweet & rich with a clean gingery finish. The season started early this year in January. I feel rampant commercialism encouraged picking before the fruits were properly ripe. They are only just good enough now, but I can't wait any longer. They are in fact at their best in April when they will look wrinkled with a deep yellow skin. The Bone Fide alphonso season normally sees the end of May when we use the almost as nice Kesar variety and Pakistani crop, to continue the mango fun from the sub-continent. Available from Monday. Speak to one of our charming sales people and arrange a delivery to your kitchen. English Asparagus From The Wye Valley It's snowing in London's New Covent Garden Market as I write this. It may not be next week (unless we get hit with glorious sunshine) , but one things for sure the beautiful Wye Valley will be amongst the first spots to produce asparagus in the UK. The sun's rays in early Spring are captured by the Wye Valley's south facing slopes. This microclimate helps to produce the earliest and sweetest asparagus in the UK. Our favoured farmers harvest first thing in the morning and hydrocool to 2 degrees within the hour, insuring freshness and flavour is captured.

The UK's climate is perfect for asparagus growth. The full, sweet flavour and tender texture is a world beater.

High in vitamin C & folic acid and  easy on the air miles, just why wouldn't you eat it?

OK let me dust off my crystal ball and put my neck on the block for a start date:-

8th March 2013

Seasonal bullet points
  • Wild garlic will drop in price the week after next as the crop takes hold throughout the UK.
  • We walk where others fear to tread by importing the delicious, but fragile verveine or lemon verbena from next week.
  • I've been tracking broad bean provinence from North Africa to Spain. Their European status is enough to make me start with what the French simply call "fève" next week.
  • Portugeuse mushrooms are going up in price as the season closes.
How's this for a light Spring lunch:- Morels spiked with wild garlic, soft poached duck eggs, crisp serrano ham and fat succulent English asparagus spears. Washed down with a bottle of Montrachet and pushed firmly into Utopia by an ultra simple lightly grilled & spiced alphonso mango kebab, with yoghurt ice cream.
The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th February 2013

Market Report in association with Wild Harvest, 25 Feb 2013

IN ASSOCIATION WITH