Fruit and Veg

July's Fruit and Veg Market Report

Written by Tom Moggach
July 30, 2012

We're all creatures of habit – as proven by our behavior at mealtimes. There are several buzzing cafes on the Market. Yet everyone sticks to just one, a regular haunt, and never strays.

So this month I broke with ritual. Why this cafe, I asked customers? "You get a better class of person," joked grocer Terry Beeke, tucking into his bacon and eggs at Ozzie's cafe.

Flat 'donut' peaches

Meanwhile, the fruit and veg changes with the seasons. Stone fruit is a current highlight. "There are some lovely peaches around," states Ross Moore, a grocer up from Kent, who rates the Spanish paraguayo or flat 'donut' peaches – his customers pester for more.

Plums, apricots and nectarines are also good value, typically from Southern Europe. French Charentais melons are a classy delight, with Honeydew, Cantaloupe and Galia varieties also available.

The first English gooseberries are now on show, best for cooking. Dessert varieties require a few more weeks to sweeten up. "Fingers crossed for more sun," says Don Walker from wholesaler H G Walker. Native raspberries are eating well.

Blackcurrants, white currants, blueberries, cherries and red gooseberries all hail from across the Channel, although British will be with us soon – watch out for the fleeting English cherry season.

English strawberries are competing with supplies from Belgium and Holland. Quality is erratic due to this year's poor weather. Hunt for the Jubilee variety, as recommended by London Fresh. "They don’t look the best but make the best eating," advises salesman Bill Oakden.

For other fruit, expect watermelons from Greece, honey and Alphonso mangoes from Pakistan and India, citrus from South Africa and apples from the southern hemisphere, amongst others.

Excellent Globe and violet artichokes

For veg, there's terrific English-grown produce such as cavolo nero, kohl rabi, coriander, spinach, parsley and spring onions. Worldwide Exotics, for example, deals with a high quality grower in Surrey.

Peas and broad beans are also native. English salads are widely available, but it's not been a great season so far. English asparagus is finished. Carrots and candy and golden beetroots are French or British. Excellent Globe and violet artichokes are also tempting. Courgettes and their flowers are from across Europe.

Tomatoes feature classics such as San Marzano alongside colorful boxes of mixed varieties including Noire de Crimée and the mighty beefsteak Cour de Beouf.

For spuds, look out for Spunta from Italy, the same variety as the famous Cyprus, available from S Thorogood and Sons and others, alongside Jersey Royals, Cornish new, Pink Fir, Maris Peer mids and many others.

For specialities, The French Garden boasts fresh green almonds, haricot beurre beans, chunky black radishes, Romanesco caulis, and borlotti beans, amongst others.

This month, I finished with my first breakfast at Market Café. Why had I not been before? Owner Mehmet Yilmaz takes pride in serving up proper cooked meals, such as a premium steak, £5, a special every Thursday. Around half of his trade is deliveries, often on a plate. "I might do a hundred steaks in a day," he says. His regulars certainly know what they like.

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