Pork, particularly free-range, still offers fantiastic value for money. English Lamb continues to be in good supply and is of the highest quality. The current demand for the best ends and saddles means that legs are especially reasonably priced.
If you are buying beef at the moment, supplies are steady and cheaper imports from countries such as New Zealand and Australia are helping to keep prices stable.
English poultry is a little more pricey than usual, but specialist French poultry - including guinea fowl, quail and free-range poulet noir - is plentiful.
Aubrey Allen, Tel: 024 7642 2222, www.aubreyallen.co.uk
Decent weather is expected along the South Coast and hake, pollock, squid and best-quality plaice are all in reasonable supply. John Dory is expected all week on the South Coast, while bream, brill and sardines are scarcer for the time being.
Increased landings of haddock from the Foroes and Iceland should result in a price drop soon. Lemon sole from the Faroes is of very good quality, and competitively priced compared with fish from the South. there are also gilt head bream, grey mullet, red mullet, langoustine and crabs available.
Supplies of hard shell Canadian lobster continue to be excellent. Swordfish and shark from South America is available. No problems are expected with tuna this week.
M&J Seafood, Tel: 01296 588221www.mjseafoods.com
Over the coming weeks, look out for the first new crops of Juliette salad potatoes, which are now being dug in Cornwall. Juilette is a premium new potato, classed by the French chefs for its firm texture and delicate flavour.
Also available is a new crop of Maris Peer, and the first of the UK-grown Anya potatoes are about to re-start.
Salad crops of UK iceberg, gems and romaine are superb just now, carrying good weights and reasonably prived.
Italian fresh borlotti beans are back to their best again and are delicious either hot or cold. British grown peas, broad beans and runner beans are available in abundance.
English asparagus is coming to an end now, with imported varieties from Peru and the USA available but pricey.
Cherries are outstanding. White or naps cherries are plentiful right now, and English gooseberries are back to their seasonal best again.
Chef's Connection, Tel: 020 7627 4809 www.chefs-connection.com
Zuppa di borlotti (Fresh borlotti bean soup)
Ingredients (serves four to six)
- 120ml olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 60g leek, finely chopped
- 400g fresh borlotti beans (shelled weight)
- A handful of parsley stalks, finely chopped
- 3 ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1.5 litres vegetable stock
- A handful of celery leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Crostini and extra virgin olive oil, to serve
Heat the olive oil in alarge saucepan and add the onion, carrot, celery and leek and sweat until softened. Stir in the borlotti beans and parsley stalks, then add the tomatoes, garlic and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 50 minutes, until the beans are tender. Stir in the celery leaves, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve with crostini and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, if desired.
Gennaro Contaldo, chef and co-owner, Passione, London