We spoke to Ben Cartwright, Director of Le Marché about all things brassica.
Autumn has arrived and British produce is absolutely at its best and brassicas are front and centre.
This family of hardy plants thrives in the British climate and includes cauliflowers, Romanesco, cabbages, broccoli, kales, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, kohlrabi, mustard seeds and turnips.
(Image: Brassica seedlings).
Le Marché, a premium greengrocer and catering supply company with a proud heritage, dating back to 1770.
They supply the finest dining establishments in London with British and European produce, with hubs at New Covent Garden Market and Rungis Market, Paris.
“I am a massive fan of brassicas. Our preferred supplier is farmer Ben Brown on the Isle of Wight. He is simply BRILLIANT.”
Brown is a relative newcomer to brassicas.
His family farm is famous for asparagus and have farmed the same land for 80 years, a beautiful spot on the Isle of Wight blessed with some of the best sunlight levels in the UK.
(Image: Ben Brown’s Farm, Isle of Wight).
The farm is now home to around 50 acres of brassicas on a four-year rotation, sowed in succession from March to August.
Le Marché sells his cauliflowers, Romanesco, green curly kale, Cavolo Nero and Hispi cabbage in red and green.
(Image: Farmer Ben Brown, holding seedlings).
"Ben aims to get his product from the field to our warehouse within 24 hours.
He is looking at freshness ... I think that is the key to a quality product ... you can feel it in the leaves; you can touch the freshness."
Most people are familiar with the trimmed cauliflowers, or broccoli you find in the shops. But the whole plants within this genus are a culinary marvel to behold.
(Image: Farmer Chris Bones, P.R. Bones & Son).
Another top-quality farmer is Chris Bones from P. R. Bones & Son, who is based near Broadstairs in Thanet, Kent. He produces several million cauliflowers per year on 250 acres.
"Anyone can grow cabbage - cauliflower is more soil and climate dependent," Bones says.
Chris Bones cultivates around 72 different varieties of cauliflower, with some of these ‘split planted’ - i.e. sown a few weeks apart to ensure a continuity of supply.
As you can see, growers at this level run a highly sophisticated operation.
Below is the purple cauliflower, which is grown less often in the UK, alongside Romanesco.
(Image: Purple Broccoli and Romanesco).
British brassicas offer exceptional value for money and are a health packed, beautiful must on our plates this autumn.
At New Covent Garden Market, you'll find British brassicas sold by a wide range of wholesalers and catering suppliers. Browse our website directory or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7720 2211.
(Chris Bones, P.R. Bones & Son).
Authors: Meg Morrison/Tom Moggach
Photographer: Tom Moggach – see permission to use imagery.