It's the perfect time of the year for English strawberries, particularly from Hampshire and Kent (about 80p-£1 per punnet) - and there are also some fantastic cultivated "wild" fraises du bois around - eg, the hybrid Reine de Valle and slightly larger Mara de Bois (about £2-£2.50 per punnet). English cherries are coming on the market now, but the Continental ones are still better quality. There are some fine flat, yellow and white peaches from the Mediterranean, too. If you want something more unusual, elderflowers are still around, as is sea purslane from Scotland and alexanders from the east coast. Sweet gale (a type of myrtle which can be used like bay leaves) is available - it's good for chocolate ganaches and great for soups. Another summer option is meadowsweet (excellent for sorbets). Herbs such as lemon verbena and lavender and chive flowers are good, while on the veg front one of the best seasonal buys is potatoes - great local varieties from Cornwall to Ayrshire. Broad, berlotti and haricot blanc beans, peas and samphire are still good. Girolles have just started coming in from Scotland, and the first Chicken in the Woods, Charcoal Burners and Blusher funghi are coming through. On the whole, salad leaves are still better sourced from France.
Source: Fresh Direct - 01869 365600
Prime cuts of beef are up in price because of the summer event season, but this is still a vintage year for lamb because of the good spring grazing in April, which gives a better flavour. Legs of lamb are the best value (about £5.50 a kg). Pork still remains a good buy, with whole legs the best option (about £2.20 - £2.40 a kg with an extra 25% for free-range meat). Chickens are in good supply, both French and British, although French are still superior.
Source: Aubrey Allen - 024 7642 2222 - www.aubreyallen.co.uk
Dreadful weather over the past week has meant that landings around the UK have been poor, except for in North Devon which has seen the best landings of squid in six weeks. Also plentiful are line-caught pollack, with red gurnard being the best buy of the week (about £4.80 per kg). Mackerel is still a good buy, too, but Dover sole and sea bass have remained expensive, so best avoided if menu pricing is an issue. Wild salmon runs are the best in years, too - both in Scotland and on the River Severn - so although expensive (about £22 per kg), now's a good time to think of putting this on the menu. Wild sea trout is a good, cheaper, alternative if you aren't operating at the top end of the market. It's still a good time to put lobster on the menu (about £16.50 per kg), but there's a famine of crab because of the weather.
Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707 - www.chefclubdirect.co.uk
Strawberry and sweet pepper gazpacho with yogurt sorbet
Ingredients (serves six)
For the soup 500g strawberries
100g roasted sweet piquillo peppers
50ml olive oil
50ml white dessert wine
For the sorbet
600g natural yogurt
300g double cream
Garnish: olive oil, lemon verbena, diced cucumber, diced strawberries
For the soup: blend all the soup ingredients together. Pass through a fine chinois. Chill for a minimum of six hours.
For the sorbet: Mix all the ingredients together. Place in a Pacojet container. Freeze for 24 hours, churning as needed/indicated on Pacojet instructions.
To plate: Pour soup in to a bowl. Place a quenelle of sorbet in the middle, on top of liquid. Pour a little olive oil around and garnish with lemon verbena, diced cucumber and strawberries. Serve.
Simon Hulstone, chef-director, Elephant Restaurant and Bar, Torquay, Devon.