The situation hasn't changed regarding the cost of imported meat and, at the moment, there are no signs that prices will come down any time soon. The price will be forced down only if people refuse to pay it. On the Continent, it is possible that all the people who have refused to eat poultry (on account of the avian flu scare) will now look at the price of beef and think that, perhaps, poultry is not so dangerous after all. However, with lots of suppliers chasing what beef is available, prices are staying up for now.
The good news is that premium British beef is not going up in price as much as the imported product. And although it has become more expensive, pork is still very good value.
Source: Aubrey Allen 024 7642 2222 www.aubreyallenwholesale.co.uk
Fish Bad weather meant day boats weren't able to fish much at the end of last week, which put prices up on cod and other native species. Fish such as brill and coley will be available, though they could be slightly more expensive. Plaice is still quite full of roe (it will be better next month) while haddock from the Faroes and Scotland remains a bit thin.
Looking ahead to next month, tuna could become more expensive as the monsoon season hits, while farmed sea bass prices should settle. High salmon prices look set to remain for a couple more months, with suppliers saying it will stay expensive until at least June.
Source: M&J Seafood 01296 333848 www.mjseafoods.com
Fresh produce Excellent produce now on the market includes Italian barbe di frate and puntarella, and purple sprouting broccoli. This really is wonderful at this time of year.
Hisby cabbage is also very good, with a good, buttery flavour that is better than any other cabbage. Try blanching wedges of it then caramelising them with garlic and sultanas.
Broadbeans and peas are arriving from Spain and Italy, plum tomatoes from Morocco, and we are trialling miniature cherry tomatoes which are no bigger than a fingernail.
Stay away from peaches and nectarines for now. They look good but the flavour isn't there yet. Spanish oranges, though, are eating very well. Be careful with stored apples. Their condition now may make them better for cooking than eating.
Source: Chef's Connection 020 7627 4809 www.chefs-connection.com
Brill with seaweed
Ingredients (Serves 2)
2 cutlets of brill
200g spring seaweed
30ml olive oil
Salt and pepper
75ml beef or veal glace/gravy
1tbs red wine
1 bunch watercress (optional)
2 lemon halves
Method Ask your fishmonger for cutlets of brill, cut through the bone, and about 300g per portion (this is quite a generous size).
Bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch the spring seaweed for 30 seconds. Refresh in ice water.
Pan-fry the brill in a hot pan in a little oil, colouring the exposed flesh then turning on to the skin and roasting for 5-10 minutes per side at 175°C. Rest in a warm place for 10 minutes with a knob of butter. Season.
Warm the seaweed in butter and season - but pay attention to the natural saltiness.
Heat the gravy, finishing with a tablespoon of red wine (Pinot Noir is a good match, but not from Alsace). Spoon the seaweed on to the plate, gently remove the skin from the fish, place on the seaweed. Pour the gravy around and serve with lemon (and watercress). Serve with a bottle of the Pinot Noir.
Peter Weeden, head chef, Paternoster Chop House, London