I bumped into this gentleman at European Side Salads, who was certainly in good spirits:
“There’s loads of beautiful stuff about,” confirms Simon Collier-Ward at Side Salads – but any patches of poor weather dampen demand in his game.
The same applies to British strawberries, now here in volume and also highly weather-dependent.
“Jubilee are the best eating variety at the moment,” explains Steve Oakden, soft fruit expert at The French Garden. I can vouch for that, having taken home a punnet myself …
The first British peas and broad beans have shown up, too. Runner beans will be along soon.
You may spot gooseberries, too, but these underrated fruits still need to few weeks to sweeten up.
Asparagus is abundant and very reasonably priced, as are Jersey Royal and Cornish mid potatoes.
“Brocolli is finally back and affordable,” says Scott Kocurek at P&I, who warns that cauliflower is a touch pricey at time of writing, with the end of the winter crop coming early.
Spanish fruit is abundant, as their season for cherries, peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines is now well underway.
At first, the flavour of the early-picked fruit left something to be desired. “The main crop [for all except cherries] will start in mid June and the projection is favourable,” says Paul Emmett at P & I.
The first flat or ‘donut’ peaches are also available now, with flat nectarines due soon.
For something more off the beaten track, look for Kent-grown Globe artichokes, such as these at S Thorogood - kindly modelled by Simon C-W.
You will also find the gorgeous speckled colours of Borlotti beans from Italy.
Other veg worth a special mention include courgette flowers and round courgettes from the Continent, sweetcorn (not British, often Moroccan) and wet garlic.
As for fruit, mangoes are an exotic well worth considering.
You will find powdered figs from Brazil, alongside more pricey (but better tasting) black figs from France and sometimes Spain.
Pomegranates are also on good form, with supplies from countries including India, Peru and South Africa.
For something posh, there are also classy Fraises de Bois and Gariguette strawberries from France.
Herbs are in good shape, with plenty of British crops about – especially mint, chives and coriander. This herb fennel below is admittedly not grown here, but doesn’t it look just gorgeous?
At Neil Brown Herbs I gawped at micro carrots, beetroot, turnips and fennel – perfect for a classy garnish and grown by Westlands. This wholesaler also sells a range of potted herbs at this time of year.
Baby veg (larger than micro) is readily available from traders such as Worldwide, The French Garden and European Side Salads. Here are some vibrant baby beetroot.
For ‘shrooms, ceps are hard to find – although I spotted this rare batch at Bruce White.
Girolle, St George and Pied Bleu are available. Mousseron are also on hand but winding down.
In terms of nutty specialties, look out for fresh green almonds.
At Gilgrove, they even had some British-grown horseradish from Norfolk – not the prettiest, but it packs a punch.
So there you go – a bumper edition of the market report. The World Cup is nearly with us, too, which will be big news on the market. So come and enjoy the atmosphere while it’s at its best.
As ever, do drop me a line with any comments or queries, and see you again next month.