{—— cheap at i half the


5 Catherine Fellows roots

6 round forbargainsin

L Edinburgh‘s prime fruit and veg quarter.

: [Edinburgh's Argyle Place is a

! phenomenon. At a time when small.

independent specialist fruit and

l vegetable vendors are becoming

' rare. and ever-more comprehensive

i supermarketsarestocking

' everything from rhubarb to radiccio.

people are coming from all over

town to the four greengrocers on this

very ordinary Marchmont street. The most obvious reason is that

there is as wide a range of produce

here as anywhere in town and often

at a fraction of the cost. The market

It would be criminal to turn super-race, super-round, super-red tomatoes into

chutney or curry.

atmosphere. too. is as much an attraction as the keen market prices.

is the thrill of the catch: it is all very well spotting a new line of

that does not compare with coming home with an enormous cauliflower liiiif cost itlst lep.

Perhaps it is illogical to enjoy selecting the best from a motley tray of tomatoes. know ing that the whole lot would have been ruthlessly discarded by the discriminating supermarket buyers. But growers will always end up with produce which is not up to scratch. and who knows what would happen to it without outlets like those on Argyle Place'.’ l-‘urthermore. the high standards required by supermarkets filter through and the stock on display in Argyle Place is increasingly good and diverse.

l lere you can pick up a lettuce with a good heart for very little just because of a few soggy outside leaves. or a tray ofcut-price bananas iust on the line between beautifully ripe and inedibly black. Ripe that‘s another thing. How many times do you crave some particular fruit. and find that the MtkS beauty you have bought is hard and green. demanding to show off in your best bowl for days before it will deign to be eaten‘.’ And many recipes do not require the best: it would be criminal

L--._ _ __

78The List 12—25July 1991

A combination of the two. I suppose.

oven-ready delicacy in Safeways. but


to turn super-race. super-round. super-red tomatoes into chutney or curry.

ln Argyle Place there's an element ofsurprise which engenders a different style from the frantic shopping-list approach. Though you will probably not find carrots with two legs or potatoes with beads. uniformity having been so successfully imposed. you can cast around the different stores to see what is good. cheap and interesting. Maybe one will have fabulous spinach. another large field mushrooms. the third ripe mangos for 4‘)p each. So you decide what you will have for supper there and then stuffed mushrooms. new potatoes.

Mohammad Akram works hem dawn to dusk bringing

spinach stir fried with garlic and fresh coriander. . . and mangos.

So much for the attractions of the street for the consumer. but what about the men behind it. who mysteriously reappear in each shop as you make your way up the street'.’ Are they at daggers drawn. or in cahoots? Do they enjoy their existence as much as their customers do‘.’

Mohammed Akram. runs the smallest and. at the moment. busiest of the four shops. called Nadia‘s after his eldest daughter. In the back shop full to bursting with boxes of kiwis. grapefruits and curly endive. he explained to me that it all started

when 'l‘SE. the original greengrocer.

bargain fruit and veg to Marchmont, Edinburgh at Nadla’s



began to sell okra cheaper than the Pakistani grocer next door. who. as well as spices. pulses and pickles stocked a few lndian vegetables. That Pakistani grocer was Mohammed‘s brother who didn‘t take kindly to this. When 'l‘SE persisted. he thought he was justified in extending his vegetable range and doing a bit ofundersclling ofhis own. In the meantime. .‘Vlohammed was struggling to make ends meet with a grocery business on the other side of 'I‘SE. which owned his premises. He was originally not allowed to sell fruit and vegetables. but. two years ago. faced with losing him as a tenant. his landlords relented. Mohammed says that selling fruit


Billy Reid, chef at Edinburgh‘s celebrated L'Auberge restaurant, suggests a dish as fresh and seasonal as if is luxurious:

Oyster and Mussel Ragout with Crisp Vegetables and a Chive Sauce (servesfour)

12 oysters, shelled and cleaned

32 mussels, cooked

6 dessert spoons of paysanne of vegetables (mange tout, carrot, celery, haricot vert cut into small diamond, square and circle shapes)

2 oz butter

V2 pint white wine cream (see below) splash ofchampagne

chopped chives

fesh dill

saltand pepper

Billy Reid suggests a seafood speciality

To make the white wine cream sauce: Sweat a chopped shallot and any herb stalks to hand (chervil, tarragon, parsley, chives, dill) in a small knob of butter. Add a splash of white wine vinegar, and reduce to nothing. Add a glass of white wine and reduce by half. Add V2 pint of double cream and bring to

salt and pepper and add a little lemon juice. Check the flavour and consistency, and pass through a fine sieve or piece of damp muslin.

Then, lightly blanch the chopped vegetables and refresh them in chilled water. Place the mussels into a pan with the white wine cream and bring gently to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently. Add the oysters and poach fora couple of minutes. Meanwhile melt the butter in a saucepan and add the vegetables, cook slowly, reallyjust to heat the vegetables through. Check the seasoning of the mussels and oysters and adjust to taste. Add the chopped chives and finish with a splash of champagne. Spoon the oysters and the mussels into the centre of four large, hot plates, and pour over a good amount of the sauce. Sprinkle the vegetable paysanne over the top and garnish with sprigs of fresh dill.

L'Auberge, St Mary's Street,

the boil, reducing slightly. Season with I Edinburgh, 031 555 5838,