MARKET 5: Spanish Cuisine

Q: How did the Spanish navy influence Spanish cuisine?

At this time of year there really is nothing like indulging in the rich, earthy flavours of Spanish food (and a glass or two of sangria) to keep the winter chills at bay. Inspired by the Spanish tradition of preparing simple, seasonal food (and a  Euro 2012 win), this week we have produced our ‘Market 5’ guide to the best performing (and buying) produce at the Sydney Markets for bringing an authentic, Spanish twist to your menu.  

 

PIMENTOS: aka Peppers, Capsicums, Chillies

Peppers (or pimentos in Spanish) play a key role in Spanish cuisine. The markets at the moment are full of peppers (both capsicums and chillies) that are crisp, vibrant and full of flavour making them an easy choice for the ‘Market Five’. We have chosen to profile the habanero chilli, however for more information on the varieties of ‘pepper’ available and their unique characteristics, please click here.

1. Habanero Chilli

Image: freepik

Availability: all year – best Nov – Mar

Appearance: look like a small bell pepper that has had the air sucked out

Flavour: very hot and spicy, with a hint of citrus. Average between 100,000 and 350,000 on the Scoville scale depending on growing conditions

Best For: a very angry tomato sauce, spicy salsa

 

TOMATOES:

Originally imported from Mexico, tomatoes were believed to be unfit for consumption however they are now at the heart of many Spanish dishes, including Sofrito, Patatas bravas (crisp spiced potatoes), Pan con Tomate (tomato bread), Gazpacho (cold tomato soup) and Paella. Today we have featured the all purpose truss tomato, however to view a more comprehensive overview of Simon George & Sons varieties click here.

2. Truss tomatoes: (available in gourmet, cherry, baby roma, roma)

Image: www.perfectionfresh.com.au

Availability: all year, best Dec - Feb

Appearance: rich, red fruit still attached to vine

Flavour: usually ripened on the vine, these have a wonderful rich flavour and are suitable for eating fresh and for cooking

Best for: suitable for eating fresh and cooked

 

POTATOES:

Potatoes are a key ingredient in a number of famous Spanish dishes, the most obvious being potato tortilla (Tortilla de Patata) and Patatas Bravas mentioned above. Most potato varieties are at their peak this time of year and  all are currently performing well at the markets. For tortilla de patata and patatas bravas the potatoes are fried, therefore I would recommend using either an all-rounder or waxy variety, here I have featured Bintje. For a list of varieties under these headings click here.  

3. Bintje:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Available: all year, best Nov- Aug

Appearance: small – medium elongated oval, with yellow skin (brown flecks) and cream white flesh

Flavour: our most popular waxy potato it is firm fleshed and creamy

Best for: any dish that requires the potato to be fried. A good cooking potato.

 

ORANGES:

Spain is the 6th largest producer of oranges in the world and with two orange varieties (Seville/Valencia) named after growing regions in Spain, it is safe to assume that this wonderful citrus contributes to their national food identity. Here I have featured two different orange varieties that sadly boast short seasons at the Sydney Markets but are wonderful while they are here.

4. Blood Oranges:

Image: www.bbc.co.uk

Available: late Jun – Aug (having just come into season they need a week to be at their best, but will be worth the wait)

Appearance: medium sized fruit boasting orange skin with a red blush and orange-red flesh

Flavour: sweet, juicy and less acidic that regular oranges

Best for: Sangria, they bring a wonderful colour and refreshing zest to this traditional Spanish wine

 

5. Seville Oranges:

Image: www.bbc.co.uk

Available: Jul- Aug

Appearance: medium sized fruit with thick, orange skin that is difficult to peel

Flavour: very acidic and therefore very tart

Best for: whilst often used in marmalades, the acid in Seville oranges makes them perfect for serving with particularly oily or fatty dishes. In Southern Spain they are also frequently served with fish dishes, such as salted cod, to bring out the flavours of the fish

 

A: Many of the dishes we know as being distinctively ‘Spanish’ came about as a result of the bold venturing of the Spanish navy, in particular the discoveries of Christopher Columbus. Of the ingredients listed above, all of which are considered synonymous with traditional Spanish food, none are actually native to Europe. It was the Spanish conquest (and colonisation) of the Americas, made possible by a thriving navy, that brought the wonders of peppers, tomatoes and potatoes into the Spanish diet. This ‘new world’  produce was adopted into the Spanish cuisine over time, resulting in native dishes renowned for their rich combination of Moorish spice and exotic flavours.  


BUYER'S GUIDE: 5th June - 12th June

The overall quality on market has improved this week, with most items in good supply and very few shorts or items not available. Tomatoes and Strawberries still have some way to go before they are in their winter mode, however weather permitting this should be in the next week or two. Front runners 'fruit wise' is still the Apples, Pears and Citrus while 'veggie wise' it's Beans, Cauliflowers, Mushrooms & Spuds.

USA Cherries are now in full swing and price is easing weekly. We are stocking the larger Darker Cherry which is slightly more expensive but are the best eating and have the best visual appeal! Smaller fruit is available on request and the price is less.

Truffles: We are waiting for confirmation of our first arrival. The season is looking to be the best since the inception of Truffles Down-under.

Something New: “Samples Available on Request”

  • Purple Jester Potatoes- deep purple inside and out
  • Russet Burbank Potatoes- great for chipping
  • Zebero’s Tomatoes- similar to Black Tigers, available by the punnet
  • Heirloom Tomatoes- in good supply

BEST BUYS:

Fruit: Orange- No 2 juicing (NSW) * Packham Pears - green (VIC) * Red Papaya (QLD) * Rockmelon (QLD)  

Vegetable: Brussel Sprouts (VIC) * Button Mushrooms (NSW) * Leek - large (TAS) * Potato -washed, large (SA) * Rhubarb (NSW)  * Silverbeet (NSW)

SOMETHING DIFFERENT:

Fruit: Cherries (Imp- US) * Drinking Coconuts (IMP) * Golden Delicious Apples (VIC) * Honey Pears (VIC) * Red Pommello (QLD) * Strawberries - XL (QLD- New Season)

Vegetable: Asparagus - white (IMP) * Heirloom Tomatoes (NSW) * Mandarins - VIP (QLD) * Royal Blue Potato (TAS)

NOT THIS WEEK:

Short Supply: Chestnut Mushroom * Yellow Butter Bean * Yellow Zucchini 

Not Available: Blood Oranges * Purple Asparagus


BUYER'S GUIDE: 29th May - 4th June

The market is in good shape this week with only some slight issues. Mainly Strawberries and Tomatoes but the rest is good to go. The problems with Strawberries & Tomatoes is the VIC & SA fruit is more backward with greener bums and the QLD fruit is rain affected- but the good news is... both are back in price! 

FRUIT:

Much the same as last week but with increased supply on some lines bringing prices back into play. These lines are all Berries, Watermelons and Honeydews with the staples still going strong. Apples, Pears, Bananas, Grapes, Mandarins, Kiwifruit, Pineapples, Papaw and New Season Navel Oranges are good buying and great quality. 

VEGIES:

With the rain and cooler weather in the QLD growing areas, some items will be affected but no shortage is expected. Beans, Corn, Capsicums, Gold Squash and Iceberg Lettuce are the main products affected- and as said Tomatoes are back in price but still nothing over the top quality wise. Everything else good to go. 

New season USA Cherries in stock now (and for the next 7 weeks) and we should have the first of the Australian Truffles by end of next week. 


BEST BUYS:

Fruit: Apple- delicious (VIC) * Banana- cavendish (QLD)  * Mandarin (QLD) * Paw Paw- yellow (QLD) * Watermelon - seedless (QLD)

Vegetable: Beetroot (QLD) * Celery (VIC) * Cocktail Chats Potato (SA) * Heirloom Tomatoes (NSW) * Mushroom - button (NSW) 

SOMETHING DIFFERENT:

Fruit: Blood Limes (NSW) * Cherries (Imp- US) * Mango (IMP) * Tangello (QLD)

Vegetable: Asparagus - white (IMP) * Black Radish (NSW) * Habanero Chilli (NSW) * King Brown Mushrooms (IMP) * Roquette Lettuce (NSW) * Roman Beans (NSW)

NOT THIS WEEK:

Short Supply: Chestnut Mushroom * Yellow Butter Bean * Yellow Zucchini 

Not Available: Blood Oranges * Longan


BUYER'S GUIDE: 22nd - 28th May

 

The market overall is settling in for what looks to be a good winter season across both fruit and veggies. Citrus is in abundance, vegetable are in good supply and supply and demand is matching across the range... except for Tomatoes, which we will see back in play within the next 2 weeks. 

FRUIT:

No real shorts at all, Rockmelons, Strawberries and Raspberries still holding up in price, but no problems with supply.  Plenty to choose from including the imports- USA Cherries, Mexican Mangoes and NZ Gold Kiwi. Also, we will see the first of the USA grapes by middle of next month and with the change in import requirements, they will be cheaper and better quality than in the past!  Aussie Blood Oranges will be available beginning of June.

VEGIES:

Just a couple on the upper end of price, but no problems with supply: Broccoli, Red Capsicums (quality), Cucumbers, and Tomatoes (quality and price)!! All the colours are there, the quality is sound and priced to suit.

The cooler weather is affecting the edible flowers supply and limiting the range. On an exciting note, we should see the first of the Aussie Truffles by the second week of June if not earlier and the word is we could be in for our best season (quality wise) to date!!

BEST BUYS:

Fruit: Avocado (QLD) * Beurre Bosc Pears (VIC)  * Cherries (imported) * Grape - red seedless (VIC) * Watermelon - seedless (QLD)

Vegetable: Button Mushrooms (NSW) * Carrot - med/lge (TAS) * Cocktail Chat Potatoes (SA) * Green Beans (QLD) * Heirloom Tomatoes

SOMETHING DIFFERENT:

Fruit:  Gold Kiwifruit (Imp- NZ) * Tangello (QLD)

Vegetable: Baby Turnip (NSW) * Borlotti Bean (QLD) * French Radish (NSW) * Hawaiian Sweet Potato (QLD) * Morel Mushroom- fresh  (Imp) * Porcini Mushroom- fresh (Imp) * Purple Dutch Carrot (NSW) * Red Witlof (VIC)

NOT THIS WEEK:

Short Supply: Chestnut Mushroom * Raspberries (expensive ) * Yellow Oyster Mushrooms

Not Available: Blood Oranges * Purple Asparagus


WINTER HARVEST

Q: Can you really buy Artichoke brandy?

Recently a fellow food lover lamented that Winter was a “boring time of year for fruit and veg, there just isn’t much to get excited about”. I can understand the sentiment, at this time of year the markets are brimming with root vegetables, cabbages, apples, pears- all wonderfully delicious and versatile but somehow less exotic and alluring than Summer’s bounty. So, in a bulletin designed to kickstart your love affair with winter produce- we are profiling ‘5 Winter lines’ that the team at SG&S are excited about this year and sharing delicious recipes that showcase the delightful potential of these fantastic Winter finds. In the words of Pietro Aretino, “Let us love the winter, for it is the Spring of genius”.

 

WINTER FLAVOURS:

CITRUS:

The winter citrus season is upon us. Mandarins are at the markets and fantastic eating, as are navel oranges. All signs point to a bumper crop this year.

Supply: Mainly QLD and NSW

Mandarins: while available from March – November, these are at their best May – October

Navel Oranges: the winter orange these are available Jun, July and Aug

Blood Oranges: available Jun – late August

Click for Inspiration

 

ARTICHOKES:

While we are still early in the season; globes, baby globes and Jerusalem artichokes are currently available at the markets. They wont be at their nutty best for a few more weeks, but are still a wonderful addition to the menu.

Supply: Mainly NSW and VIC

Baby globe artichokes: good local stock arriving at the markets- at their best Jun- Aug

Globe Artichokes: still early but available. Peak product will be at the markets from June - Sept

Jerusalem Artichokes: already available, at their best from June – Sept

Click for Inspiration

 

USA CHERRIES:

The USA cherry season is always welcome, as it helps us survive the long wait until the Australian season starts up again in November. Expect more lush Bing fruit and creamy Rainiers again this year

Supply: California, Washington and Oregon

Early fruit will be available from next week, with the season traditionally spanning Jun – Aug

Click for Inspiration

 

TURNIPS/SWEDES:

While many believe them to be old-fashioned and dull, in our minds the delicious Tassie Swedes and local Turnips currently at the markets are vintage gourmet. Their peppery flavour and creamy texture, in addition to their nutritional value and affordability makes turnips and swedes a winter favourite at SG&S.

Supply: Turnips – NSW/VIC, Swedes - TAS

Despite being available all year, the cold weather works wonders for these root veges, meaning turnips, baby turnips and swedes are at their best May – Oct

Click for Inspiration

 

TRUFFLES:

While the Australian Truffle industry is relatively young, producers are unearthing spectacular, premium grade truffles from sites across WA and TAS (with small numbers harvested in NSW/ACT and VIC). In fact, last year around 3 tonnes of this noble, perfumed fungus was grown and sold in Australian markets. We can only hope that 2012 sees another bountiful harvest.

Supply: WA and TAS

Following a wonderful season in 2011, 2012 is looking to be just as promising for Australian Truffles with fresh, aromatic truffles expected to be in good supply from early June to August

Click for inspiration!

 

Other items of note for Winter: Star Apple (Jun- Nov), brassicas (in particular cauliflower) are predicted to be top performers this season due to the cold weather. Beans (broad and borlotti) are also expected to have a great winter with main supply now starting.

A: Yes. Known as Rossler it is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented and distilled Jerusalem Artichokes. This nutty-sweet brew has been produced in Baden, Germany since the 1800s and to this day  90% of all Jerusalem Artichokes harvested in the area are dedicated to producing this brandy like spirit.