English cherries have almost finished. There are only expensive American and Canadian mountain-grown fruit left. Tomatoes are being talked up, but any price rise should be short-lived and not too drastic.
New-crop English onions are sweet, hot, delicious and just in. Runner beans are also brilliant this year after an ideal combination of sunshine and rain. Home-grown Bobby beans are in, and the first arrivals look good. New parsnips are superb, and swedes are pale but good.
Apples remain in short supply and are pricy. This probably won't change until the first French fruits arrive in volume at the end of this month. The first few English Discovery apples should be in stock soon. Ingrid Marie will be the next variety to ripen in a week or two.
English plums have not cropped heavily this year, but that should mean they will be of excellent quality. A few Opals have been available and we are about 10 days away from Victorias. Be on the lookout for Laxton Croppers but, like a lot of old English varieties, very few are grown nowadays.
Trompettes and pieds de mouton are working their way over from eastern Europe, and there are still plenty of girolles available from Scotland after a bumper season. Samphire is still going, as are strawberries.
Unfavourable weather has meant that pollack and sardines are in patchy supply this week. There have been good landings of squid from north Devon, though, and good line-caught bass. Turbot prices are very reasonable, at £17.50 for a 3-4kg fish. Gurnard prices have levelled off at about £7.50 per kg, and there is plenty around. Line-caught mackerel is in good supply, as is well-priced John Dory (starting at £7.50 per kg). There is plenty of crab and lobster from the South Coast, and all shellfish is available bar cockles, which have seen a patchy week. Sea trout supplies are slowing down and will end in a few weeks.
Source: Chef Direct 01275 474707
With just days before the grouse-shooting season starts on 12 August, the only other game worth mentioning are wild rabbits (£2.80 each) and pigeon (£1.80 each). Suckling pigs are popular at this time of year and are priced at £70 each, while there are good free-range guinea fowl (£7.75 each), Cobb chickens (£4.50 per kg) and Aylesbury ducks (£4.75 per kg) available from our supplier.
Source: Chef Direct 01275 474707
Pan-roast North Sea squid with flat parsley salad, grilled black pudding and English mustard velouté
To make this delightful dish, sauté the bright white squid - the tubular body cut into rings and the tentacles kept whole - and toss through a robust salad of flat parsley, shallot rings and diced crispy black pudding "croûtons" with wisps of fluorescent yellow English mustard cream "painted" around to complete the picture.
Ingredients (Serves four)
2 baby squids, about 400g each
For the velouté 175ml white wine
50ml fish stock
1tbs English mustard
1tbs flat-leaf parsley, chopped
For the black pudding 100g black pudding, in 1cm dice
A little olive oil for frying or grilling
For the parsley salad 50g flat-leaf parsley
10g shallots, thinly sliced into rings
A little mixed herb salad with 5ml of house vinaigrette and a dessertspoon of 1cm-diced bread croûtons
Method First, clean and prepare the squid. Clean out the tube or body sac. Remove the quill and also the ink sac, depending on the age and size of the baby squid. Cut the tentacles from the body and divide in half, keeping them all intact for presentation. Slice the body or tube into rings, wash thoroughly and keep refrigerated.
To make the velouté, reduce the ingredients by two-thirds or to coating consistency, set aside and keep warm.
Next, grill the black pudding on an oiled tray for 3-4 minutes until crispy. While this is cooking, put a pan on a high heat with a little oil. Dress the parsley salad with vinaigrette. Mix in the sliced shallots, herb salad and croûtons. Place two small piles of salad on each of the gently warmed plates.
Put the sauce on a slightly higher heat and add the chopped parsley. Carefully put the squid into the hot oiled pan. Season, and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Arrange with the hot diced black pudding on the salad and lightly spoon around the mustard velouté. Garnish with garden herbs and a squeeze of lemon over each salad. Serve immediately.
Andrew Pern, chef-patron, Star Inn, Harome, taken from his book Black Pudding & Foie Gras (www.blackpuddingandfoiegras.co.uk)