Beef is continuing to get dearer, and there is less and less imported beef making it into the country. On top of this, now the export ban on British beef has been lifted, some UK abattoirs are beginning to renew old export contracts, so there could be slightly less home-grown beef available in future.
Seasonal demand, now the weather is warmer, is creating more of a market for sirloins and fillets, but cheaper cuts such as brisket are holding their price.
After a slow start to the season, lamb prices are showing the first signs of easing, as the warmer weather sees greater numbers coming through to the market
Source: Aubrey Allen 024 7642 2222 www.aubreyallenwholesale.co.uk
Despite the good weather, catches mostly have been small. The only bargain seems to be lemon sole, which are plentiful now that the inshore season has started in the Faroes. There is some good, although more expensive, cod from Ireland and the Shetland Islands, but the quality of cheaper Icelandic container fish is now variable. The same is true of haddock.
Halibut prices should be falling, and South Coast grey mullet is now appearing in better numbers. Imported fish prices are still good.
Source: M&J Seafood 01296 333848 www.mjseafoods.com
Fresh produce British strawberries are very good at the moment, although wild strawberries have been delayed by a couple of weeks. Home-grown gooseberries are also just around the corner. Redcurrants are very expensive just now, with the Dutch crop the only fruit on the market. The price should ease once the UK crop ripens.
Ayrshire early potatoes are beginning to arrive. Broad beans and peas are still very good, and flat beans are just starting. Marsh samphire is beginning to arrive from France and will begin to be available from the UK in the coming weeks.
Heirloom tomatoes are excellent quality from the Netherlands, as are fresh borlotti beans from Italy.
Bunched baby vegetables are at their best, while there are some very good girolles arriving from Bulgaria.
Source: Chef's Connection 020 7627 4809 www.chefs-connection.com
Boiled bacon shank, broad bean and lovage salad with crispy quail egg
Ingredients (Serves four)
1 bacon shank
4 quail eggs
20 lovage leaves, picked
One beaten egg, with a dash of milk
75g pork fat, 1cm cubes
100ml whipping cream
125g broad beans, cooked and picked
10 leaves flat-leaf parsley
300g mixed salad leaves
Method Boil the bacon shank for at least two hours and reserve in the cooking liquor, to keep moist and finish cooking.
Carefully poach quail eggs for one minute, refresh in iced water and drain - they should be firm but spongy. Mix breadcrumbs with a little finely chopped lovage, a pinch of salt and a good pinch of the cayenne. Dip quail eggs in the flour, then the beaten egg, then the breadcrumbs. Reserve for deep-frying.
Shred the bacon into chunks, place in a saucepan with a little of the cooking liquor and warm through. Pan-fry the pork fat until golden to make little croûtons, and season.
Make a lovage cream by bringing the cream to the boil, and add 10 of the lovage leaves and the parsley. Season, and blitz with a hand blender until bright green. Dress the salad leaves, add the warm pieces of bacon, beans, pork fat and the rest of the lovage, shredded. Place in centre of plate. Deep-fry the quail eggs until crispy and place on top of the salad. Spoon the lovage cream around.
James Mackenzie, chef-proprietor, Pipe and Glass Inn, South Dalton, East Yorkshire