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Jersey Royals, tomatoes, grey mullett

16 March 2006

Fresh produce

Jersey Royals grown under covers are now coming through in abundance, although they're still fairly expensive. Caulis and Savoy cabbages are also improving in size.

Brussels and kale are being knocked by this late cold snap, and as demand is already dipping this will probably trigger the end of the season.

St George's mushrooms traditionally start around St George's Day but are usually late, and with the cold weather this year, expect them even later.

Superb fennel and red spring onions are arriving from Italy, while new-season garlic is appearing from Egypt. Be careful - at first the bulbs are not very bulky and the texture a bit papery. Green and yellow tomatoes are on the market from Holland.

Source: Chef's Connection 020 7627 4809 www.chefs-connection.com

Meat
Lamb and beef are getting dearer. There's not much lamb left on the market and the new-season lamb trickling through isn't good enough yet.

There's upward pressure on the beef market because of restrictions on imports from South America, coupled with the lifting of the export ban on British beef: farmers are hanging on to their cattle rather than sending them to slaughter.

Veal prices remain high.

Source: Aubrey Allen 024 7642 2222 www.aubreyallenwholesale.co.uk

Fish
There should be reasonable amounts of brill, eel, hake and grey mullet landed along the South Coast. Plaice, lemon soles and mackerel will be more expensive, although there's some reasonably priced mackerel arriving from Denmark. Prices should also come down on Dover soles. Cod and haddock will also creep up in price. Landings of langoustine and lobster will also be lower.

The wild Canadian halibut season has also started, but with heavy demand from Canada and the USA, the cost hasn't come down enough yet for any to be exported.

Source: M&J Seafood 01296 333848 www.mjseafoods.com

Seasonal recipe
Whole brown trout, wild garlic butter, St George's mushrooms (Serves 4)

For the wild garlic butter 150g unsalted butter
Zest of one lemon
50g wild garlic (nice young shoots or leaves)

For the fish Four portion-size brown trout, gutted and scored
1 lemon, finely sliced
Maldon salt
White pepper
Olive oil

For the St George's mushrooms 300g St George's mushrooms, cleaned
Olive oil
Nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon juice

Method For the garlic butter, combine all the ingredients in a food processor, blend to a smooth green paste and refrigerate. Place the lemon slices inside the trout and season inside and out. Heat a large nonstick pan (you may need two) with a little olive oil. Place the trout in the pan and reduce the heat.

When the underside is beginning to colour, carefully turn each one over. Place in a 200°C oven for about eight minutes (this will depend on the size of the fish).

Meanwhile, heat a quarter of the garlic butter with a dash of olive oil and fry the mushrooms. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. When ready to serve, remove the lemons from the fish and place on four plates accompanied by the mushrooms.

In the same pan used for the fish, melt the remaining garlic butter. Add a good squeeze of lemon juice and divide between the four fish. Serve with Pink Firs or other new potatoes and wedges of lemon.

Toby Gritten and Jake Platt, the Albion, Bristol

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