Food File

12 October 2004 by
Food File

The first pheasants are available from next week (1 October), but gamekeepers will tell you they are not at their best until the beginning of November. This might be the best-value product you buy: they cost between £20 and £30 each to rear, shoot and prepare, but can be delivered, restaurant-ready, for about £4.

Wild duck are available now, but it's best to use only mallard, widgeon and teal. Wild venison is also available from Wales and the North of England, with the best of Scottish (Balmoral) available from the middle of October. British lamb is wonderful and in good supply, but Scotch beef is still pricey, with the best quality proving difficult to source. There remains plenty of cheap imported beef available.

Aubrey Allen
024 7642 2222

Fresh produce Fresh cherries and apricots are now out of season. The season is also over for fresh peas and broad beans, and what's left is not any good. Fresh borlotti and coco beans are still available, but supplies will become more sporadic.

Look out, however, for fantastic home-grown Cox and Russet apples, as well as new-crop custard apples and persimmon all starting again shortly. Turkish figs are still excellent. Root crops are popular again for autumn, including sweet-root parsnips and swedes. Squashes, too, should not be overlooked, including superb butternut, acorn and the unusually fleshed spaghetti squash.

Chef's Connection
020 7607 4809

Poor weather conditions around the UK, Faroes and Iceland mean landings are very small. Dover soles, haddock, brill, lemon soles, mackerel, plaice, sardines and skate are all affected, and codlings have reached their highest price so far this year. However, elsewhere supplies are good: gilthead bream, farmed turbot from Spain, halibut from Scotland and, from India and Australia, goatfish, which can be used in a similar way to red mullet. Sea bass sizes will remain small while the Mediterranean farms begin their new season. Shellfish remains strong, with plenty of UK oysters, clams from France and mussels from Scotland on the market.

M&J Seafoods
01296 588221

Gilthead bream with grain mustard pasta and mango chutney
(Serves four)
2 x 450g gilthead bream
For the pasta
80g pasta 00 flour
3 egg yolks
1tsp olive oil
1tsp water
Extra virgin olive oil

For the chutney (at least 12 portions) 3 mangoes
1 Bramley apple
1 red onion
1 clove garlic
2tsp grated fresh ginger
275ml white wine vinegar
200g brown sugar
Black pepper
Chilli powder

For service
Olive oil
Grain mustard
100ml chive oil

Method Remove the head from the bream, gut, scale, fillet and remove pin bones.

Peel and chop the mangoes and apple into a rustic dice. Finely dice the red onion, grate garlic and ginger and add to rest of ingredients. Place in a stainless-steel pan, bring to the boil, then simmer until the liquid has reduced to a jammy consistency (about 1-11/2 hours). Test a small amount on a plate in the fridge to see if the consistency holds.

Place the flour and salt in a blender. Bring together with yolks, oil and water until it forms a dough. Leave to rest for at least two hours. Roll through a pasta machine into either spaghetti or tagliatelle. Blanch in boiling water for about one minute. Refresh in ice-cold water, dry in a tea towel, then cover with a little olive oil.

Heat pan, add a little oil and, when it just smokes, add a knob of butter. Salt the skin of the bream and place in the pan, skin side down. Season the flesh and lower heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes to crisp the skin. Turn heat off and flip the bream back on to the flesh to finish. Add a knob of butter to a pan with a little grain mustard. When infused, add pasta and season. Twist pasta around a carving fork and arrange in the middle of the plate. Place bream on to pasta and spoon a quenelle of chutney on the fish. Finish with some chive oil.

Marcus Ashenford, chef-proprietor, 5 North Street, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire

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