Blushed pear varieties from South Africa are now superseding the European Comice. The flavour of the Rosemarie variety, however, hasn't yet been good, with the fruits also arriving very hard and almost impossible to ripen. The quality of stored Conference pears remains good, and these fruits can still be eaten when still slightly firm.
Blood oranges are plentiful and excellent quality, while Spanish raspberries are now improving in flavour as the season progresses and weather improves. Imported lychees are extremely sweet right now.
Savoy cabbage and cauliflower head size has been relatively small recently, as the crops are slow-growing in cooler weather. Unfortunately, demand for the products is still huge, and consequently the product has been picked immature to satisfy the market. Chinese leaf is worth considering, as the head size is currently excellent. It is well priced and the product stores well.
Source: Chef's Connection 020 7627 4809 www.chefs-connection.com
A number of native species will go up in price this week thanks to strong westerly winds. Irish catches will be down, affecting brill and skate wings. Along the South Coast, landings of monkfish, mackerel, plaice, sardines and grey mullet could also be down.
Haddock is starting to go thin from some areas, while cod is also short. Landings of Dover sole should, however, increase in the next two weeks. There are also good supplies of Icelandic catfish and red fish, and good prices on farmed salmon thanks to more Norwegian fish arriving on the market. Further away, there continues to be a problem with swordfish supply.
Source: M&J Seafood 01296 333848 www.mjseafoods.com
There has been an increase in price at the quality end of Dutch veal. One theory is that this has been caused by the Winter Olympics in Turin. The Dutch produce enough meat to cover demand, but prices will be affected at the top end.
Supplies of beef, pork and lamb remain steady. Bear in mind that once Valentine's Day is over people start to look ahead to spring, the events season and weddings - and plan their menu changes accordingly - putting more demand on prime cuts.
Source: Aubrey Allen 024 7642 2222 www.aubreyallenwholesale.co.uk
Oxtail and smoked black olive tortellini, sprouting purple broccoli purée, Stilton cream
For the pasta
100g "00" flour
Splash olive oil
For the oxtail
1/2 oxtail, trimmed
20ml olive oil
1/2 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
500ml red wine
50g smoked black olives, chopped
For the broccoli
10 heads purple sprouting broccoli
Bicarbonate of soda
For the cream sauce
Blend the ingredients for the pasta dough the day before, and rest.
Seal the oxtail in a casserole in oil. Add vegetables, garlic and herbs. Cover with red wine and water. Season with salt. Braise until meat falls off the bone, about 3-4 hours. Pick off the meat and mix with the black olives. Adjust seasoning and add powdered ginger. Roll into small balls.
Cook the broccoli in salted water with bicarbonate of soda. Blend and pass. Melt Stilton with cream and blend to use for sauce.
Roll out the pasta on the machine at setting 8. Cut into 5cm circles. Brush with egg wash. Place balls in pasta and make into tortellinis. Cook in boiling salted water. When cooked, roll in melted butter. To finish, spoon purée on to plate, place tortellini on top and spoon Stilton cream on and around.
Glynn Purnell, head chef, Jessica's