The best of Scottish and English beef is excellent and in good supply. Prime cuts are still more expensive because of the seasonal demand, so better bargains are to be had on lesser-used cuts such as shin and silverside.
Good English chicken is in good supply now, but beware of cheap imported imitations.
Aubrey Allen 024 7642 2222
Despite some rain, weather conditions are generally good. Tides are also favourable, meaning netters will be landing all week along the south coast. Expect good supplies of flatfish and cheaper varieties like coley, ling, pollack and red gurnard. Prices should also come down on John Dory. Supplies of sardines should also improve, although mackerel landings have been rather erratic. The Faroese inshore season is now in full swing, so lemon soles should be cheap. But as boats target these, fewer haddock will be caught, so their price may rise. Elsewhere, the Alaskan wild salmon season has started, although prices will be high. Other salmon prices are calming down bu tthe Norwegian holiday season starts soon, which wil mean no significant drop in prices.
English cherries are now plentiful, with the sweetest fruits currently arriving from Kent. Fresh blackcurrants and redcurrants from the UK are also plentiful, although the season is short, so use them now. The Purple Pax variety gooseberries are beginning again and are generally super-sweet. English frais de bois or wild strawberries are in season now, but are best eaten on the day of purchase as the shlef life is very short.
The English fresh pea crop is also outstanding at present - small, sweet peas from well-filled pods.
Italian cantaloupe orange-fleshed melons are outstanding - very sweet, fragrant-tasting and reasonably priced.
New-crop European figs are beginning again both from Italy and Spain, but the flavour needs to improve.
Look out for the first of the European grapes, starting later this month, along with the first og the greengages.
Chef's Connection: Tel: 020 7627 4809
Sweet pea and toffee soup with hog's pudding fritter
Ingredients (Serves four)
For rhe royale
- 200g pea purée
- 2 eggs
- 4 yolks
- ½ pint double cream
- salt and pepper
- diced summer truffle
For the soup
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2tbs oil
- ½ clove garlic, finely chopped
- Mustard seeds
- 550g fresh peas
- 280ml ham stock
- 150g sugar
- 200g butter
- 50ml double cream
- Salt and pepper
For the fritter
- 1x200g hog's pudding, skinned and mashed
- 1tbs mustard seeds, toasted
- ¼ pint choux paste
- Salt and pepper
- Bacon dust
To make the royale, mix pea purée with ehhs and cream. Season and add the chopped truffle. Place in a large cappuccino cup and fill to about one-third. Place in a bain-marie and cook until just set. Set aside.
For the soup, sweat shallots, garlic, thyme and mustard seeds down in a little oil. Add a quarter of the peas and all the ham stock. In a separate pan and all the ham stock. In a separate pan, make a dry caramel with the sugar, add half the butter and cook until golden. Add half the cream and thin out the caramel. Stir into the stock.
For the fritter, mix the hog's pudding, mustard seeds and choux paste together. Correct the seasoning, shape into quenelles and deep-fry.
For service, gently reheat the royale in a bain-marie, bring stock to boil, add remaining peas, cream and butter. Adjust seasoning. Blend, pass through fine seive and pour into cup. Froth any remaining soup and place on top with some bacon dust. Serve fritter on side.
Simon Hulstone, head chef, the Elephant, Torquay, Devon