The first of the UK-grown Bramley apples are now arriving. These essential cooking apples are perfect for homemade pies, crumbles and compotes. Other English apples worth trying again also now include the blushed Discovery apple. Crisp, with a hint of tartness,
they make a nice seasonal eating apple.
Cherries are now going up in price as the European crop is finishing. The fruit will now be air-freighted from the USA.
English parsnips are back to their seasonal best again now, although the sweetness is often improved after a decent frost - hopefully still some way off. Golden beetroot are also worth sourcing. The sweet, vibrant yellow flesh is delicious either hot or cold, or fantastic pickled. English cobnuts should be just around the corner, with crops currently coming from France.
Source: Chef's Connection 020 7627 4809 www.chefs-connection.com
Meat Grouse is still the big story, with very disappointing numbers - we have heard as much as 90% down on some shoots. However, the reluctance of restaurants to put such a high-priced product on the menu has led to prices actually coming down, but only from the astronomical to the simply unaffordable. Young grouse have been sold this week from about £16 to £25 a bird. This is still a fraction of the estimated figure of £200 per bird, which is the minimum cost of shooting them.
The best British lamb is still good and similar in price to last year's prices. There remains plenty of imported beef at varying prices.
Source: Aubrey Allen 024 7642 2222 www.aubreyallen.co.uk
Fish Large cod is still very expensive. Scottish landings are down, although there is some Irish fish on the market. Icelandic fish is filling the gaps, but the quality of the meat is not as good as native fish.
Haddock landings, however, have improved from the Faroes and Iceland, so there should be some deals to be had on prices.
Catches of native flatfish such as turbot, plaice, sole and brill are still down, with prices remaining high. Monkfish should come down in price, however, as more South Coast fish is landed - although unfavourable tides mean there will be smaller amounts of other varieties from the net boats.
Source: M&J Seafood 01296 588221 www.mjseafoods.com
Rustic chocolate and cobnut panna cotta
21/2 leaves gelatine
175g shelled cobnuts
75g dark chocolate
100g caster sugar
400ml double cream
Method Soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water until soft. Meanwhile, peel and slice the nuts very thinly, then dry toast in a pan till fragrant. Cool.
In a pan heat the milk and bring to simmer. Add the chocolate and sugar and stir continuously until melted. Remove pan from heat and stir in the cream while still hot. Thoroughly stir in the gelatine. Pour evenly into the desired moulds. When the panna cotta has started to set stir in the sliced cobnuts, keeping some back to sprinkle on top at the end. Chill the moulds overnight.
To serve, turn out the panna cottas and sprinkle each with a few slices of the nuts. Serve with a raspberry ice-cream and a blood orange syrup.
Diego Jacquet, executive chef, the Trafalgar hotel, London
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