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Maris Piper potatoes, rocket, catfish, oyster

08 September 2005

Fresh produce
Fresh cèpes are beginning again, although some of the first mushrooms have been soft and showing signs of maggot damage.

Rocket salad from Italy is beginning to flower, and it's probably worth looking at alternative supply until the situation improves.

New-crop Maris Piper potatoes from the Cambridgeshire Fens are outstanding at present. The skins are yet to fully set and if stored and handled correctly they make wonderful fresh chips. Look out for Heritage variety potatoes later this month; they're making a real comeback. Highland Burgundy Red and Salad Blue varieties are also particularly good.

Continue to make use of the outstanding UK Victoria plums (below) this week as the crop is still plentiful.

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

Fish
For the time being the weather should hold, meaning good conditions around the coast. There should be more landings of catfish, coley, mackerel and squid. Prices should also come down on haddock and lemon soles, and the season has just started for Dovers, which means that after a long wait the prices should come down. The native oyster season is also in full swing.

Cod and plaice are still expensive, as is turbot, which commands a very high price. Even farmed turbot is expensive because of stock levels. Despite being cheaper, grey mullet will also be getting more expensive as the fish return to deeper waters after the breeding season.

Source: M&J Seafood 01296 588221 www.mjseafoods.com

Meat
Grouse is still scarce and expensive, fetching about £18-£25 per bird. However, the rest of the game birds are also starting to come on the market, including partridge. The English grey-legged variety is currently more rare and pricey, at about £7 per bird, but the French red-legged birds are also good quality and much more numerous. They are also only about £3.50 per bird.

There are also some wood pigeons around at very reasonable prices, between £2 and £2.50 per bird.

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

0ysters, simple and adulterated

Ingredients (Serves four)
12 oysters
1/2 lemon, unwaxed
1/2 pint Guinness
100ml cream
1 pomegranate (seeds from)
20 lavender petals (fresh if possible)
1tsp horseradish cream

Method Reduce the Guinness by two-thirds, then add the double cream.

Simmer for about five minutes until the sauce reaches the thickness of double cream. Keep warm and set aside.

Shuck the oysters, remove four from their shells and place in the warm Guinness reduction.

Arrange the other oysters on a plate covered in coarse rock salt (to hold the shells in place).

Leave four oysters plain and serve with a small slice of lemon. Place about a quarter of a teaspoonful of horseradish cream underneath the second four oysters, then top with pomegranate seeds and four or five lavender petals each.

Place the warm, Guinness-poached oysters into their empty shells, arrange on the plate and serve.

Eat the oysters starting with the most simple, and finishing with the Guinness.

Toby Gritten and Jake Platt, head chefs, the Albion, Bristol

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