There has been some good Italian asparagus on the market and crops should soon also be arriving from Spain. We have already seen a trickle of UK asparagus - the earliest it's been recorded at Covent Garden.
New-season garlic has improved in weight, and marrows from Spain are now better quality.
Cauliflowers are plentiful from Lincolnshire, while there is plenty of outdoor-grown rhubarb now. Stored UK Cox apples have now been superseded by the New Zealand crop, which is more expensive.
Blush pears from South Africa are now very good, including varieties such as Flamingo and Forelle.
Source: Chef's Connection 020 7627 4809 www.chefs-connection.com
Cod supplies from Iceland were short at the beginning of the week. Native fish from South Coast waters and the Shetlands is superb quality but more expensive. Haddock from the Faroes is also good quality but high in price.
Scottish Atlantic halibut is available at reasonable prices, while Dover soles from the South Coast are expected to be plentiful over the next few weeks. Native sea bass will remain expensive, and there is expected to be a general shortage of farmed fish over Easter. Farmed salmon will remain expensive over and beyond Easter.
Source: M&J Seafood 01296 333848 www.mjseafoods.com
The British public should be applauded for their immunity to media panic over bird flu, with no apparent slow-down in demand for poultry after the Scottish outbreak.
However, beef prices remain high, and it's likely there will be no change in the market for a few months. Our advice for chefs is to plan your menus carefully when it comes to imported beef. Pork remains very good value.
There will be some new-season lamb (above) available for Easter, but with the cold weather the flavour will not yet be anywhere near its best. There is very good milk-fed lamb from Pauillac and the Pyrenees, however.
Source: Aubrey Allen 024 7642 2222 www.aubreyallenwholesale.co.uk
Milk-fed lamb from the Pyrenees, "barigoule and bergamot"
Ingredients (Serves eight)
2 legs of milk-fed lamb on the bone
Salt and pepper
100g Bayonne ham, diced
200g shallots, chopped
200g carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic
12 baby artichokes
4 sprigs thyme
500ml dry white wine
Juice of 1 bergamot orange
50g pitted black olives, chopped
100ml olive oil
Method Preheat the oven to 200°C. Sweat the shallots, carrots, ham and garlic in olive oil until softened.
For the barigoule jus, turn the artichokes and add them to your vegetables. Stew them for a few minutes and deglaze with white wine. Add thyme and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes until cooked.
For the lamb, season the legs, sear in olive oil. Roast them in the oven for about 20-25 minutes (depending on the size). Take them out of the dish, then deglaze with the bergamot juice. Leave to rest.
Reduce the barigoule jus, add the honey, lemon juice and black olives. Check the seasoning.
Carve the legs and place them on a serving dish. Add the artichoke, the vegetables and their juice.
Pascal Aussignac, chef-patron, Club Gascon, London
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