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Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

Lychee

The late variety Wai Chee is arriving by air from South Africa. A rounder fruit that is slightly sharper to taste than the popular Mauritius variety. We expect sea-freight MacLean this week too.

Cucumber

French naked cucumbers smell great! Unlike the Spanish wrapped product, these really stimulate the senses. They have been going for a week or so now and will be available until October.

Kumquat

Spanish Kumquats look fantastic. They are large, full coloured and half of the sendings arrive with leaf (as shown). They do not have the depth of flavour of the French but for presentation they are hard to beat.

Wild Roquette

The quality of this Italian product is right back to where it should be after the difficult few weeks with freezing conditions. Not so much a new line, but it almost feels like it.

Baby Vegetables

The range we offer of fresh bunches is being hampered by the freezing conditions but we have found these 12s of baby fennel today, complete with the fronds. Baby aubergine and baby chicory from France are good this week.

Fennel

We source Italian fennel all the year round. At present it is bright white and superb quality, and has a lovely, distinctive aniseed flavour.

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Fruit & Mushroom

We are moving closer to the citrus season with Spanish lemons almost ready as these leafy ones show the colour is still a little green! Clementines, however, are superb already and the early variety ClemenRubi is proving a real winner. Today saw the first arrival of grapefruit from Florida. A pale pink at present but with very little acidity. It might also be a good time to incorporate citrus into other areas of the menu with the finger limes or lime caviar. Inside the hard skin are small, pale green citrus pearls that burst in the mouth when crunched.

Spanish mangoes are in full season and we are offering three different varieties – Kent, Manzanillo and Osteen. All are sweet and full of flavour, with little fibre; the first two in particular.

The offering of apples and pears continue to grow each week. Particularly good this week is a Golden Delicious from a grower near Nantes which is both colourful and great to eat being sweet and crunchy.

 Vegetables & Salad

At this time of year we see more and more product coming up from Italy because of the better climatic conditions. Bright green flat parsley, sold in 5 kilo bulk boxes, is a great example of new season product replacing the older French crop.

This is also very true of our tomato offering that sees the list shrinking in varieties and being replaced with Italian fruit. Datterino is a great example as it is an unusually shaped vine tomato, just a little larger than a cherry vine and packed with the flavour of sun ripened Sicilian fruit. It is one we try to offer throughout the winter.

Another Italian favourite is the round purple aubergine. Larger and spherical not elongated like the black ones, it has a slightly different flavour too.

It is a squash festival at the moment and there are plenty of different varieties to choose from. It is hard to say which is the best as they all have different flavours and uses but we particularly appreciate the Butternut, the Onion squash, the Muscade pumpkins and obviously the Jack Be Little.

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Datterino tomatoes are a lovely sweet variety that has a date shape.

Crapaudine is the oldest variety of beetroot that lost favour because of its flaky, hairy skin. Now enjoying a resurgence because of the flavour

Cherry apples are tiny apples complete with the stalk. The flavour is, however, pretty tart.

One of the many varieties we are offering from Spain at the moment – these are Kent. Lovely sweet flavour with no fibre.

A lovely selection of radish available now. In the left picture we have the green meat and in the right one we have the red meat, sometimes known as watermelon radish and the Rose de Chine. The heat is in the Rose while the other two are ‘sweeter’ and less peppery.

Sitia Olive oil was brought to our attention by a chef a few weeks ago and we were so impressed with how good it was we have now added it to our list. We believe that the Cooperatives’ farmer-members have a passion to produce the world’s best Extra Virgin Olive Oils. Although they are not yet as famous as some of the Italian brands, once discovered, it won’t disappoint.

The Union was established in 1933 and today totals 43 cooperatives and over 8,700 farmer-members. This represents almost all of the farming families in the province of Sitia, on the island of Crete.

 SITIA 03
This oil is distinguishable by its golden-green colour, its intricate fresh aromas of unripe fruit and green herbs, the balance between sweet and bitter, the magical taste on the tongue and the amazing duration of its after-taste

Both in 1998, in the competition organized by the Spanish National Council of Olive Oil as well as in the 5th SOL Exhibition in Italy, in 1999, this exceptional extra virgin olive oil, SITIA 0.3 was awarded the 1st prize, confirming and rewarding in this way the endeavours of the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Sitia.

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A few changes again as we really move to autumnal weather. Peach and nectarines are mostly Italian now and this is a sure sign we are starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel. A good year but time to move on now.

Mushrooms are coming into their own too. Great girolle can be sourced from Sweden as the need comes to replace dwindling Scottish supplies. Chanterelle are a little more plentiful and cepes have been very good this week.

Spanish pomegranates are very plentiful, especially in a medium-large 12 count. Other fruit to use at the moment includes figs – that range from very large to small as you require, fully ripe and splitting to firm, black and sweet green – and sweet eating plums like Napstar.

Soft fruit may look good and firm but the flavour is not what it was during the summer months. Grapes are very plentiful with Muscat continuing to be great to eat. Exalta seedless is now ready too. Similar to Centennial in flavour, it has a much smaller and rounder berry. Italia tastes superb but continues to command a good price for the best quality and Chasselas is down a little!

Vegetables & Salads

We talk a great deal about ‘local growers’ and where possible we do like to work with farmers direct. Our man in Sarthe is now supplying his celeriac, complete with foliage, in a lovely small calibre. These ’individual’ ones proved extremely popular last year and offer a real alternative to the much larger 8’s.

One product that we are now selling in larger and larger quantities is Chicory. It is grown in Northern Europe and is hugely popular throughout France and further a field. It also comes in a range of qualities that depend on where the product has been grown – some of the very finest comes from relatively inaccessible caves underground. We offer extra class from the Arras and an even higher quality from Belgium. We also offer a range of sizes from large down to mini and even baby, so please have a look and give them a try!

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Some great eating figs still to be had so enjoy now before it’s too  late.

One of many great seasonal nuts, chestnuts form the staple of many a menu for several months. New season Ponthier available too.

An unusual apple because of it’s distinct flavour – reinette anisee – with a hint of aniseed.

Wax tipped pears have also begun, varieties like Grand Champion to start the season.

Chervil tubers have a lovely hazelnut overtone to their flavour and will be available all through the winter months.

Pink Fir Apple or Corne de Gatte potatoes have a lovely pink skin and make a great salad potato.

After a few weeks of average quality Dutch salsify, we now have the much better one from France.

Parsley Root – not to confused with parsnip as the flavour is quite different. Even the smell in the box is different.

Sacco beans – the product must be in abundance in Kenya as the price is coming down and the quality is going up!

The Vacherin Mont d’Or season has started. This semi-soft cow’s chees comes from the Savoie region of France. It is available for around six months but as each producer is limited to the amount they can produce, exact dates are never possible and the season runs for as long as there is product! It is delicious baked in the oven, the top skin pierced a few times and then fed a little white wine.

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Fruit & Mushroom

A couple of Autumnal signs have appeared this week on the market. The increasing volume of wild mushroom and today the first Quince! We are now offering eight different kinds of wild mushroom, or nine if you count both colours of chanterelle.

The late summer or early autumn fruit is changing too. Stone fruit is no longer about peach and nectarine, but about plums – the constantly changing varieties and colours of the standard varieties and the specialist ones such as Mirabelle.

Figs are coming into their own too with dark ones from Southern France, Sollies will be good in a week or so, to the super soft but unbelievably sweet green varieties such as Banana and Longue d’Automne.

Apples and pears from Spain and France are beginning to replace imports from the Southern Hemisphere so look out for an ever increasing offering of top quality, large calibre fruit.

It is worth mentioning that the cob nuts are also getting a more ‘dried’ colour to them but they still have the same sweet flavour.

Vegetables &  Salads

Artichokes are a little thin on the ground but the quality remains excellent; garlic in all its different guises  and calibres is also at its best at the moment, particularly the famous Rose Lautrec marque which has just started. Swiss chard are excellent as well as is the new season celeriac which is getting bigger by the day. Leafy celery from the Paris region is also in abundance, all baby leaves are continuing to be in good condition despite the hot conditions and large Brittany cauliflower and Romanesco are now coming back on the market and look in great condition. Fine beans are also in abundance with some nice examples of the yellow and violet varieties coming onto the market from the Loire valley. New season green curly cabbage is also starting to appear, Broccoli is everywhere and excellent, while courgettes seem to be getting better and better, some nice round yellow and green varieties now adding some variety to proceedings. Tomatoes are outstanding at the moment with some  great choice on the market. Now is an ideal opportunity to try out our local grower Serres de Chaiily who supplies us with some outstanding varieties.

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It really is about grapes now! The Muscat de Hambourg that we promoted last time has been joined buy ( left), large berried Red Globe from Italy, the speckled Chasselas now coming from the Moissacregion of France, large and sweet true Italia from Italy (right) and the sweet flavoured Centennial seedless from France. We try hard to offer fruit for its flavour and the Italia and Centennial are prime examples of this. Both are very sweet but note also that some golden brown colouring will appear in the fruit as this is the sugar content!

Coming from The South West of France, these black skinned mooli have far more flavour than their white cousins.

This baby San Marzano tomato has a sweet intense flavour.

Exceptional fine green beans from the Loire Valley.

AOC Red Label Lautrec garlic has finally arrived. It has a higher oil content and is strictly controlled to reach this level of certification.

Barhi dates are arriving by plane from Israel – sea freight is expected this weekend. Place in the freezer for a couple of hours to start ripening

Air freighted Kent mango is a little hard to find at the moment so we are offering Maya from Israel. Still a lovely taste with very little fibre.

The Moroccan Prickly Pear has finished and is replaced with lovely examples from Italy.

Royal Gala; Granny Smith – The apple and pear selection will grow each week from now on.

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Fruit & Mushroom

An attractive display that captures the moment – some late apricots that have a fantastic blush and the start of the Muscat de Hambourg grape season. It is a variety that is renown for its intense flavour. Other French grapes include Prima and the white Ora but this is not as appealing as either Vittoria or Italia from Italy.

The bad news is in soft fruit where figs in particular are very difficult. The second crop from Spain is small and dry at the moment and the French are being bombarded by storms and connot be picked either! The good news is that Tulamine from Gourmandine are increasing a little in quantity.

Melons continue to be good, especially orange fleshed ones. Again the rain is taking its toll on growth and harvesting but so far so good. Some marques of yellow melon are superb and very sweet.

Sea-freight limes and pineapples seem to rise in price each week but other exotics are good and the prices stable.

Vegetables &  Salads

As we mentioned in the last Newsletter, the season for Red Label Lautrec garlic was about to start and the good news is that it has! It is the only garlic that can be sold under this accreditation.

From the same family, we must now say goodbye to the sweet, red Tropea onion from Italy which has been replaced by a more traditional red onion.

It may sound odd in July but with all the poor weather this month some of my favourite products are the coloured roots – both beetroot and carrot. Our local grower continues to offer his fantastic selection of carrots, but the Brittany farmers have started their harvest too. Shelling beans are proving popular too with Coco Paimpol now in full season and the Borlotti which should be with us for another month.

Artichokes continue to be a great seasonal product and a firm favourite with this buyer. Large globe Castel in a calibre 13 right down to the baby bunched violet ones.

If your summer menu does not match the weather, why not try the first of the pumpkins?

 

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Fruit & Mushroom

We have had a flash of summer changes in mushrooms with good cepes available for a day! French girolle is growing, but a bit large and Scottish Highland girolle should be with us before the next Newsletter.

Grapes origins are changing (Moscatel in particular had become very poor) and Italy and now Morocco are sending good fruit.

Spanish melons are in their prime with yellow and green skin varieties more plentiful and orange fleshed fruit now lovely and sweet. The French melon is becoming highly perfumed so that will be on offer next week.

The market is generally dominated by stone fruit. The French season is underway and fruit with good flavour can be found. At present there is no one rule for the best origin as different varieties from different areas arrive with differing amounts of sugar. We are trying very hard to stay a little ahead of the game and bring the fruit on gently so that it arrives in a condition that is almost ready to use.

The odd exotic arrives from time to time such as these Lychee from Thailand.

 Vegetables & Salads

Let’s start with the most surprising news of the week. Coco Paimpol shelling beans from Paimpol in Brittany have already started their new campaign. We usually get the first bags mid-July but this year a couple of farmers have decided to grow some under tunnel to get them out early!

The first colour cauliflower as arriving but only the orange are available at the moment – purple and green soon. We are now using the new harvest of celeriac with the leaf on as the old harvest is starting to look bit damaged.

The Beans section is now full with the latest addition of the Coco Paimpol and we also saw some great arrivals of extra fine purple beans from the Loire Valley.

The first (raw) Cornichons are arriving in the market this week. They are available in a range of different sizes and are ideal for making your own pickles.

Finally we saw the first Parsnips coming back from Brittany.

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Spanish Flat Peach is starting to taste good now and the first French ones are not far behind.

A pretty alternative to the mixed tray of berries – these are mixed punnets (and the tray is smaller too having only 6 punnets)

European grapes are coming into their own with good black varieties from Italy and these Prima from Morocco.

Flat Nectarines have begun but as the picture shows, the fruit is pretty small at present. Probably best to wait a week or two.

We can offer a whole world of colour to liven up any plate with the range of new season bunched carrots from our grower in La Sarthe who is bringing to the market his production of purple, yellow and white carrot. They are superb and can’t be compared with the Dutch production. Also coming from the same grower are round bunched carrots called Parisienne, which are very nice too. We have been told by our man in Brittany that we should get his first mixed coloured carrots in 5kg boxes in a couple of weeks.

Comté

This 18 month old cheese is supple and the saltiness still an undertone, unlike some older ones where it becomes too much a part of the flavour. A whole wheel will weigh around 35kg but we can have it sliced into 1/8ths affording you the possibility of enjoying just 4-5 kilos.

  • Matured for 18-21 months
  • Highly respected producer
  • Can be bought whole of as a 4-5 kilo slice
  • Can be bought at production and aged, (much like a wine), so you can benefit from particularly good years

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Fruit & Mushroom

In an attempt to try and get away from talking about stone fruit so much, we will start with citrus! Not thought about so much at this time of year but we have now moved away from Spain for lemons and are offering superb Eureka from Argentina which is more perfumed, has a higher juice content and better skin colour. We are still sourcing some French Niçois lemon with leaf, which is un-waxed and both un-waxed and traditional oranges from Spain.

Soft fruit sees the long awaited arrival of the gooseberry, both red and green varieties, and very good blackberries and blackcurrants from France. Black figs are getting better although still a little thin on flavour and colour, but green are worse as the usual hole appears for a few weeks in the Spanish early crop and the Italian is not up to the mark yet either.

Stone fruit sees the start of the French season for Peach and nectarine which promises to be great in a week or two.

European grapes are underway with white Vittoria a couple of weeks into the season and the Black Magic starting just this week.

 Vegetables & Salads

The Ecoli situation has really made life complicated, with cucumbers and now tomatoes struggling to find buyers. It seems confidence has been hit and even Dutch and Belgian fruit has arrived here today as they try to palm off wasted tonnage. Meanwhile the French asparagus season, which started early this year, is now close to an end on both green and white. We can still find a bit of pink & white but shortly we will be back on the Peruvian product. Wild asparagus will also finish this week.

Romanesco from Brittany is back since last week but only available in a small calibre. By contrast the summer cauliflower is large and snow white.

Beans are the product to focus on at the moment. Peas in pod are still good, extra fine beans from Morocco are really good and great value, new season Borlotti are now in full flow and we are just starting to get some nice tender yellow beans from Loire Valley.

Our sandy carrot farmers in Les Landes send us yesterday’s the picture of him harvesting his new production which will be with us tomorrow.

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Jolly Red Pulp Melons – a long title and one that merits a large mention as they are by far the best eating melon of the moment (orange flesh).

The first of the seriously large stone fruit – a yellow peach from Spain that weighs over 300grms each.

Flavorella or Plumcot is a cross between an apricot and a plum. Plenty of flavour, if a little sharp, under a smooth skin.

Griotte cherry is the small red sour variety that is traditionally used to make griottines. It is notoriously delicate too!

We are really pleased to be able to offer Lavender growing in pots after all your requests!

These are grey shallots from Anjou in the Loire Valley. A hot shallot used mostly with fresh oysters.

We are now offering a new range (to us) of dried pasta from Italy. We have chosen it because of its unusually high egg content and have been very pleased with the response so far. We currently list five different shapes and these can be found with the other dried pasta in our catalogue.

Featured Product – Guinea Fowl

Guinea fowl meat is high in protein and low in cholesterol. It is a good source of vitamin B6, selenium and niacin and makes a great alternative to chicken. It has a lovely flavour that is slightly gamey but very subtle (much less assertive than pheasant or grouse). The guinea fowl is native to West Africa and then spread quickly across western and northern Europe and has been reared for the table in the UK since Elizabethan times.  They are hardy birds that forage for food and so are often farmed in free-range or semi-wildfacilities where they also perform a valuable pest control function. They have an acute awareness of predators and so are valued for their role as a ‘watchdog’, alerting farmers to any henhouse intrusions. It is reported that they have the ability to distinguish between farmers’ family members and strangers!

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Fruit and Mushrooms

It must all be about stone fruit at the moment! Cherries are everywhere although there never seems to be enough and it is a mad scramble to get the best fruit each morning. A local grower has defied the predictions and we can now offer his produce in a +34 calibre – it looks more like a small nectarine! Rainier bi-coloured fruit appeared today too.

The best peach and nectarine continues to come from North Africa, Tunisia and Morocco while apricots are now a complete mix of Spanish and French fruit. Some lovely full blush fruit can be found with superb flavour although we are not offering large cell-packed fruit yet as it is not as good as the loose.

Melons improve each day and both Spanish and French offerings are now sweet and perfumed.

Soft fruit is great with the strawberries stealing the show. We have Mara, Gariguette and ‘round’ varieties from France, England and Belgium – something for everyone!

 Vegetables and Salads

Still no sign of rain over here but some products seems to be showing their best with this weather – the fine frizee from our grower in the north of France is really large and comes with a nice and tender yellow heart.

Spanish broccoli has now come to an end and is already replaced by the one grown in Brittany. The summer cauliflower season is now open too and is arguably the best cauliflower of the year.

Italian Borlotti seems to be more popular at the moment but supply is always difficult with Italy, however the quality is great.

From this week we decided to swap to French peas in pod from the Loire Valley instead of the Italian. The French are now sweeter as the Italian campaign is coming to an end soon.

Our leafy celery is now coming from Provence and the quality is stunning, while courgettes are also coming from there and are really nice too. Our local grower has started his new campaign of yellow bunch carrot.

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Fresh almonds have a soft green outer shell and a creamy nut in the middle.

Large or small? Spanish large and smooth flavoured, French are smaller but fuller flavoured – the choice is yours.

Spanish black fig have started but they lack a little colour inside and the flavour will only get better. Not bad for the first though.

The only good pictures of girolles seem to be studio shots! Spanish offerings now pretty good.

Hand packed and looking a liitle like an artists pallet, these mixed tomatoes are coming up from Provence.

Tiny new potatoes from Provence. Linzer Delicatesse has a flaky skin making it a classic new potato.

Summer cauliflower are stunning, bright white and have much less leaf – a classic summer vegetable at its best.

Borlotti beans seem to increase in popularity year on year and are stunning at the moment (if the Italians let us have them).

 Featured Product – Comté

Comté is a French cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France. The cheese is made in large flat circular wheels which can weigh up to 50 kilograms. The fat content is around 45%.The rind is usually a dusty-brown colour, and the internal pâte is a pale creamy yellow. The texture is relatively hard and flexible, and the taste is strong and slightly sweet.

The manufacture of Comté has been controlled by AOC regulations since it became one of the first cheeses to receive AOC recognition in 1958, with full regulations introduced in 1976.

We currently offer a 1/8th cut of around 4kilos or a specially cut piece of a little over one kilo of selected cheeses. Please ask if you would like a whole wheel.

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Truffle

The summer truffles are now ripe enough to start supplying so now is the time to enjoy them. Paler and less pungent than the winter ones, they are becoming increasing popular because of their lower price and for their simple flavour.

Girolle

French girolle mushrooms from the Sologne region are pretty good this week (unlike the picture!). Despite the lack of rain they do not look too dried up and are lovely and small with some scent. They are, naturally, commanding a high premium.

Spunta Potato

A fantastic potato from Italy that is ideal for chips. We take great care in sourcing boxes of well graded large potatoes that make them much easier to prepare.

Charlotte Potato

A classic new season potato with a flaky skin. Lovely to eat after the minimum of cooking and is also good sautéed.

Charentais Melon

The Spanish season is now underway and the example here already has 14%brix of sugar. The flavour is good but not too perfumed so now would be a great time to ‘get ‘em on the menu’.

Baby Vegetables

Mixed baby carrots and beetroots are back with us, as is the popular baby fennel complete with the tops.

Bone Marrow

A surprise winner for us this one. Partly due to the demand for this product we have now added a different cut to the list allowing you to have the whole length of the marrow or with the bone split in half.

 

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Apricot

The selection is growing a little now and we have the loose packed Currot (a paler apricot but it can have some flavour when ripe), and cell-packed fruit of a high quality such as these Sunsweet. The fruit has a lovely blush and will be great to eat when fully mature.

Edibal Flowers

Two more varieties have started this week – acacia and the dark blue corn flower or bluet on the left.

Cebette

A very pretty early season spring onion that can almost be sweet to the taste. This week saw some of the best examples we have seen, being very long and slim.

Yellow Watermelon

The Spanish melon season is starting and we now have these yellow fleshed watermelons as well as the more traditional striped and dark skinned seedless varieties which tend to have a deep crimson flesh that would compliment or contrast the yellow.

Navel-Powel

Although this is a good orange to eat, the real point here is the calibre – calibre 1. It is HUGE! Lovely and juicy and I would imagine that it would make lovely large segments too.

St George

Both St George and Girolle are arriving by air from Spain and Portugal. Both seem to be a little large in the stalk, particularly the girolle, but (for the time of year), they are really good quality.

Lemon

The very popular untreated lemon from Italy is back on the market. The flavour has been very good so far and is not just sharp. It has the added advantage of being unwaxed so the skin can easily be used too.