Welcome to our first Market Report of 2017. Here's a top grade selection from the warmer parts of France, Italy and beyond ...
Fresh from Rungis
Our buyer Nick says: "ESC salads are all coming up beautifully from the south of France - the mild weather is bad news for skiers but the salad growers are happy! However, the torrential Spanish rain has been continuing to cause havoc for our frisée suppliers. They are very fussy about keeping quality high, so supply is limited.
Baby vegetables are all good and plentiful except baby turnips which will be limited in supply until Spring. There are French Gariguette strawberries available and the Spanish 1kg boxes have started - big, red fruit. They look the part but we can't guarantee flavour this early in the season! French apples and pears are of excellent quality, not expensive and all readily available. I also found some unusual knobbly lemons from Nice - a hybrid called Mistrix Aurantifolia - check out the pictures here."
Other lines include sand carrots, watercress, spinach, dandelion, Cevenne onions, winter radish and red heart radish.
Fresh from Milan
Our buyer Tess says: "I love the smell of the herbs when you walk into Milan market. Agretti has started. The colour on the blood oranges is coming up nicely. It's been cold down in Sicily, which is what the fruit needs to blush. Other citrus includes leafy clems and cedro. I'm also bringing over broad beans - it's effectively the new season in southern Italy for this cool climate crop.
Radicchios are in their prime - we do the full range, including small selection boxes. Artichokes are excellent. The two 'winter tomatoes' - Camone and Marinda - are available. San Marzano are still going. Borlotti beans have stopped. Basil is pretty much finished."
Other lines include kohl rabi, white courgettes, round courgettes, puntarelle, catalogna, cime di rapa, celery and fennel.
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: "In France, all the root vegetables are available and good quality, as well as shallots and banana shallots. Heritage tomatoes (Spanish and French) are available and Portuguese pumpkins are still going. From Morocco, it's full season on red and green chillies, coco flat beans and green beans. Bad weather in Spain has had an impact: coloured cauliflowers will start a few weeks later than expected. I'm seeing smaller amounts of courgettes, aubergines and tomatoes due to the bad weather.
Leblanc Flavoured Vinegars
J Leblanc vinegars are widely considered the best in the business. When Tim, our Director, worked for the famous Roux brothers these were the vinegars they insisted upon. Flavours include: cider, raspberry, red wine, white wine, walnut, champagne and truffle. This company has been making oils and vinegars for more than 120 years in the south of Burgundy. You can find out more about the range here.
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EUROPEAN SALAD COMPANY, UNIT C53-54, NEW COVENT GARDEN MARKET, LONDON, SW8 5BH TEL: 020 7720 7758 ORDERS@EUROSALAD.CO.UK