A bumper edition this month! Here's the inside track on our top quality produce imported direct from France, Italy and beyond.
Fresh from Rungis
Our buyer Nick says: "Lots of sun and rain is great news for growers. Salads and spinach are of excellent quality as we head into July and the holiday season. As well as our Spanish frisée, there is French Perle du Nord in boxes by the dozen which started a few weeks ago. Artichokes too are top quality from Brittany. Watercress is just finishing its flowering season, so now back to concentrating on those lush, dark green leaves."
"Black radish has started its new season from Brittany and there are coloured cauliflowers from there, too. Purple garlic heads plaited into tresses appeared last week and smoked garlic should be available by the end of July. White skinned onions coming from Italy are available in Rungis and French yellow beans have started. Celery from the Ile de France (Parisian region) and Ratte potatoes and cèpes are available and good quality.
It should be the season for fresh broad beans, it's true, but we have to admit the shelled and peeled, zero-hassle, frozen broad beans are a big hit with chefs #they'llneverguess!!
Peaches and nectarines coming from Vauvert down near the Camargue on the Med are succulent, sweet and full of flavour. Or the dramatically coloured 'Nectavignes' with a purply skin, deep red flesh near the skin and white near the stone. Vine nectarines or blood nectarines are tangy and juicy. Black cherries we are buying from France are all that excellent cherries should be: big, dark and sweet. There are also Spanish about which are more reasonably priced but not the same size."
Fresh from Milan
Our buyer Tess says: "It's hot hot hot in Milan. As the heat increases we start to lose some of the staples - green produce such as Punterella, Chima di rappa, Monks Beard and Castle Franco; spinach is still there but the heat has affected its availability and that too will go soon, as will the round Pale Aubergines. We are also starting to see some of the tomatoes tailing off: Marinda's and San Mazzano. Some tomato production moves to more northern growers for a short time, before finishing.
"Despite the heat other wonderful produce has come to the fore; the Coure di Bue Rosa (Pink Beef Heart tomatoes) are beautiful at the moment, and the controversial marmite of the tomato family 'Coure di Vesuvio' (a big rough looking beef heart tomato grown on the slopes of Vesuvius). There are also some delicious big dried Breme Chipolla Rosso about now - big round flat red onions."
"The stone fruit is at it's peak. The market smells and tastes wonderful! Watermelons too are in abundance, as are large fresh green and black figs, and the yellow watermelon is back too. Herbs are still available, with red basil and green basil, courgette plant, tenarumi and tarassacco (green dandelion) coming on now. Looking forward to oranges starting in another month or so and the pumpkin season getting fully underway."
ESC Direct is our bespoke, whole-pallet only wholesale service. Our buyer sources direct from Brittany, Provence, Spain, Morocco and elsewhere.
Gaelle says: " From Brittany new season roots have started before the old season is over! New season coloured carrots and beetroots are more pricey and in smaller volumes for a few weeks though. Jerusalem chokes won't start until August. Globe artichokes are in full season although short for a couple of weeks due to a heat wave. Romanesco has also suffered. French heritage in full season and more affordable. From the south of France, courgettes are still available in volumes. Muscade squashes started a week ago - more volumes expected by end of the month."
"On the Spanish side, new season white garlic is now available. Watermelon, peaches, nectarines are in full season. Black figs have started but are still very short and more pricey than Brazilian. From Morocco the chilli season is coming to an end but still available. Watermelons and honeydew still available. From Egypt, sweet potatoes are expected to start by the end of the month."
These tins of palm hearts are ideal for the more adventurous cooks: amazing in salads, on trend on the West Coast.
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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