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Cockles, Leeks, Pork

10 July 2008 by

Meat

We are now starting to see the benefits of the warmer weather in relation to the numbers of spring lambs becoming available. Individual cuts are now becoming affordable and in plentiful supply.

Silverside is a good alternative to topside for a beef roasting joint and is around 20% cheaper at present. It seems that steak cuts may have reached a premium, as demand has eased back slightly in line with the price rises on menus. Live cattle prices are still at a premium, with demand for forequarter meat for burgers, etc, very high.

Pork is still trading at a premium, with increases on sausage, gammon and cooked hams starting to come through.

Poultry has remained firm, with demand very strong right across Europe.

Source: Birtwistle Butchers - 0161-728 3340 - www.birtwistlebutchers.co.uk

Fresh Produce

Broad beans are still in good nick and relatively cheap, and Scottish girolles should begin to roll down from the Highland forests soon.

English strawberry supplies will dwindle soon as the plants produce fewer fruits in July and early August, so get them on the menu now. New English leeks are squeaky-fresh with a mouth-watering chives-and-onion aroma, while home-produced bunched beetroot is a top choice.

English marsh samphire is in full swing and available at around £10 per kg. The recent arrival of sharp, guava-flavoured blackcurrants is a boon, while white and redcurrants are now plentiful. Raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are in good shape, too.

Tomatoes and baby artichokes are coming in from Italy and fresh cocoa beans from France. Mushrooms are a bit tight, with US morels the only good purchase. Summer truffles are coming down still - expect to pay £130 per kg.

Sources: 4°C - 020 8558 9708 - www.4degreesc.com / Wild Harvest - 020 7498 5397 - www.wildharvestuk.com

Fish

Bad weather and spring tides meant a slow start this week, but things should be picking up.

Bass prices have shot up astronomically, to £23 per kg, but turbot are sensibly priced. There have been good landings of Cornish mackerel and some jumbo mackerel, about 500g each, coming into Grimsby from Norway, along with herrings.

Langoustines and most shellfish - mussels, cockles, razor clams - are available but diver-caught scallops won't be readily available until the end of the week. Wild salmon has shot up from £16.50 to £23 per kg due to poor supply.

Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707

Seasonal recipe

Marinated strawberries with a hint of mint, served with clotted cream

Ingredients (Serves four)

400g strawberries, washed and cut into quarters
50g caster sugar
Lemon juice
Fresh mint, chopped finely
Pinch of ground white pepper
Clotted cream

Method

Take one-quarter of the strawberries, sprinkle with sugar and add a dash of lemon juice. Then, using a fork, mash well and add the remainder of the strawberries. Add a pinch of pepper, 1tsp of chopped mint and adjust the sweetness to your liking, then leave to marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge.

To serve, place the strawberries into bowls and spoon some clotted cream into the middle.

Michael Caines, executive head chef, Gidleigh Park, Devon, and director of food and beverage, Abode Hotels

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