Wild salmon from the River Severn has come down in price, and good landings of large grey mullet have been reported from the river estuary. Pollack is a good buy, from Devon and Cornwall, and large plaice (1kg-plus) is also available from Devon. Shellfish is in good supply, including lobster, razor clams from Scotland, mussels from Devon and red palourdes.
Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707
English gooseberries are in good supply and, if the rain holds off, the first English courgettes will soon arrive, along with stuffable courgettes en fleurs, peas and broad beans. Locally sourced purple-topped turnips, bunched red beetroot and bunched carrots are available, along with baby leeks, baby fennel and baby golden beetroot. Lincolnshire-sourced Boston new potatoes are expected to rival the Cornish varieties as long as farmers can dig them out of the wet ground.
Warm weather has brought on rapid growth of spinach, but in many cases the rain has left the leaves too mud-spattered to pick. Primo cabbages are in great condition, as is broccoli.
Strawberries are available, but most other fruits are still being imported, with raspberries suffering from fur coating and English cherries a few weeks off from starting. In good supply from further afield are Italian and Spanish nectarines, Spanish red plums, Chilean apples and South African clementines.
Source: 4°C - 020 8558 9708 - www.4degreesc.com
Chefs are continuing to seek cheaper, slow-cooking joints such as shin beef and beef skirt steaks due to the short supply of beef imports. Further increases on steak are expected over the coming months. The recent warm weather is still driving demand for rumps and sirloins, keeping prices at a high.
Increasing demand for pork across Europe continues to drive prices, while the unexpected shortage of spring lamb through May and early June means rack of lamb and pre-portioned rump remain expensive. However, good supplies of lamb are expected to come through in the next few weeks, making it a good alternative to steak.
Source: Birtwistle Butchers - 0161-728 3340 - www.birtwistlebutchers.co.uk
Pasta with lobster
Ingredients (Serves four)
For the lobster stock
3 lobster heads
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 small white onion, diced
30g tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
10ml olive oil
2 bay leaves
Few sprigs basil
Few sprigs flat parsley
For the tomato sauce
1 small white onion, finely chopped
600g San Marzano tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 black olives
10cl extra virgin olive oil
50ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
200g clean lobster meat
1/2tsp red chilli, chopped, seeds removed
1 fresh tomato, peeled, deseeded and cut into strips
To make the stock, fry all the ingredients gently until light brown, add the water and simmer for 30-40 minutes, skimming all the impurities. Strain through a fine sieve.
To make the tomato sauce, fry the onions and olives in olive oil until golden brown, add the peeled tomatoes and cook gently for one hour. Season with salt and sugar.
Pour some extra virgin olive oil into a hot pan with some garlic, red chilli and the lobster meat. Seal the lobster for few seconds and add a splash of white wine. Allow it to reduce, add some salt, one ladle of lobster stock, one ladle of tomato sauce and some fresh tomato fillets.
To serve, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until "al dente", drain it off and pour it into the saucepan. Add some fresh basil, chopped parsley and more olive oil. Toss well, check the seasoning and serve.
Andy Needham, head chef, Zafferano, LondonBook a table now at Zafferano >>