It's a good year for girolles, with the wet weather across much of the continent meaning they're in lovely condition and reasonably cheap. However, the same weather conditions that have benefited the girolle crop look certain to ruin the cèpe crop unless we get six weeks of sun before September. Bad weather has also affected swedes, which are expensive, and broccoli, which is almost non-existent.
Rain also ruined mid-harvest strawberries across much of the UK and our supplier had to import indoor-grown strawberries from Holland.
Source: Fresh Direct - 01869 365600 - www.freshdirect.co.uk
The wet weather continues to have an effect on produce, with the recent deluges signalling bad news for farmers but good news for buyers. Fewer animals go to the slaughter during spells of rain as they are all sodden. Normally this would signal a price rise but for some reason this is not happening. As a result, beef prices are about 10% less than they should be, as people don't want roasting joints, stewing meats or, because of the weather, barbecue meats.
Likewise, lamb prices have stayed constantly low for the past few months. This situation should remain for the next few weeks, but as August ends and the new school term looms, minds turn immediately to roasting meats and autumn dishes, and the market changes rapidly.
Source: The Ginger Pig - 020 7935 7788
The weather over the past week has been unsettled, and the forecast is much the same. This has had a big effect on prime fish, with bass and Dover sole hard to come by, and expensive. But there are plenty of Cornish sardines and mackerel around, as well as hake and squid. Gurnard has grown in popularity over the last few years, and this is the best time of year for it, although it's not as dirt cheap as it once was. Wild salmon and sea trout are still available, so take advantage of their seasonality.
Spring tides mean crab is in short supply this week, but lobsters are still excellent value and there are lots of cockles and mussels. There have been good landings of turbot, available for a relatively cheap £12.50 per kg for 1-2kg fish, and there are nice large plaice and handline-caught Cornish pollack available.
Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707 - www.chefclubdirect.co.uk
Escalope of wild salmon with tomato ketchup vinaigrette
4 x 200g escalopes of wild salmon
For the vinaigrette
80g shallots, very finely chopped
1tbs chervil, finely chopped
1tbs chives, finely chopped
1tbs tarragon, finely chopped
1/2tbs Worcestershire sauce
100g tomato ketchup
8 drops of Tabasco sauce
300ml olive oil
50ml white wine vinegar
For the garnish
Sprigs of chervil
Here's a new creation of mine that sounds a little wacky but tastes fabulous. The fresh herbs give the salmon depth and flavour, while the ketchup vinaigrette gives the whole dish a fabulous sweetness tempered by the vinegar and Tabasco. No one ever manages to guess what the "mystery" ingredient of ketchup is.
Mix together all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and set aside to infuse. Pan-fry the salmon fillets in a little olive oil until they're cooked but still pink in the middle - a couple of minutes on each side, depending on the thickness.
To serve, place the fillets in the centre of warmed plates, top with a generous amount of the vinaigrette and add a few sprigs of chervil.
I like to serve this with a few sauté potatoes and a green salad.
Extracted from Marco Pierre White in Hell's Kitchen, to be published by Ebury Press on 23 August (£14.99)