Last month was a shocker. Veg shortages hit the headlines. Our buyer Tess even had a cameo on BBC News. But we're still managing to bring over quality Continental produce at affordable prices. Here what's hot to trot.
Fresh from Rungis
Our buyer Nick says: "Rains persist in Spain. In addition, there's unusually hard frosts in Southern France. So it's no secret that there are shortages of Mediterranean fresh produce. A large number of products are limited from calabrese to capsicums, which has driven the prices up. Our spinach growers said that they can only harvest when there's no frost, so the number of hours they can get out in the fields is limited to afternoons. However, there are some new exciting lines on the market like the beautiful 'Strawberry Cocktail' tomatoes on the vine, long red 'Chinese radishes' with leaves and the first French white and green asparagus."
"Also, fresh black truffles (Tuber Melanosporum) are in season until at least the end of February, in a choice of calibres and vacuum packed to seal in the flavour. They can be ordered in 500g or 1kg packs. Ask your friendly staff at European Salads for details."
Other lines include Muscat grapes, Passe Crassane pears, French Golden Delicious, dandelion, sand carrots, rose garlic, and black and red heart radish.
Fresh from Milan
From our buyer Tess: "Roll on spring! The weather is still playing havoc in Italy and across the rest of Europe with the cold damaging or decimating crops. The effects will go on for a while yet. Some produce is too expensive to bring back at the moment. But I'm still managing to find bits and pieces that people want."
"Highlights are the citrus, such as blood oranges and lovely leafy oranges from Sicily - they remind you we must have had sun and heat at some point! Also big cedro lemons. Grown originally in Asia and brought to Europe by Alexander the Great and his armies, it is known as one of the four original citrus fruits and is the only one to self seed. Also dark red caulis - just as they should be! Lovely green Camone tomatoes, beautiful cime di rappe, and cardoons."
Other lines include agretti, peas, radicchio, Tropea onions, basil, rocket, kohl rabi, celery, and peppers.
ESC Direct is our bespoke, whole-pallet only wholesale service. Gaëlle - our ESC Direct buyer - sources direct from Brittany, Provence, Spain, Morocco and elsewhere. Produce is collated and quality-checked by our Rungis team, before being delivered throughout the UK, bypassing the London markets if clients are based outside them.
Gaëlle says: "February starts with more volumes currently in courgettes, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, artichokes and aubergines. Romanesco stays short. Spanish Chinese leaf is expected to start within 2 weeks as well as Moroccan potatoes. Green beans, coco flat beans and chilli prices are increasing and getting shorter. Portuguese pumpkins and banana shallots are available. Volumes on goods from Brittany (leeks, caulis, shallots, roots etc...) shall be down in the weeks ahead, as a result of the current heavy rain. A wide range of exotics are available such as Peruvian asparagus, pomegranates and limes."
We stock an extensive range of tinned and dry pulses. Tinned include Borlotti and Cannellini. Dry pulses include Fagioli and top grade Puy lentils.
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EUROPEAN SALAD COMPANY, UNIT C61-64, NEW COVENT GARDEN MARKET, LONDON, SW8 5JJ TEL: 020 7720 7758 ORDERS@EUROSALAD.CO.UK