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‘Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the birdies is? ...'

‘Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the birdies is? The bird is on the wing! But that’s absurd, I thought the wing was on the bird!’ – Lol - an oldie but a goodie. According to Google the origin is lost but it have been Ogden Nash who tended to pen this sort of witty doggerel verse so effortlessly.

I tend to always start these blogs with a report on how the weather affected the previous weekend’s market so I really should stop doing this..but I can’t help it. Weather plays such a huge part in the lives of the stallholders and the customers at open air markets that we must pay attention when credit is due to those who continue to support us no matter what the weather is doing. The squally weather last weekend was atrocious for anyone who was either standing under a gazebo or anyone trying to buy something from the someone standing under a gazebo. Wind is by far the worst weather for us stallholders. We can cope with cold.frost and even rain but wind plays havoc with the produce, the signs, the cloth table covers and we have to pin down the gazebos with cement filled buckets or tie them to our vehicles to stop them making a bid for freedom across the carpark or the paddocks.

So although Saturday was very difficult for all, Sunday was gentler but of course it was the beginning of Daylight Saving so no-body turned up until 9.00! (8.00 in the old time). Who could blame them. Getting up early on a Sunday is trying at the best of times but to get up an hour earlier is too too cruel. Those who did turn up early got to see the market in all its glory complete with Avocados, Asparagus and Strawberries – all three Spring favourites returning at the same time. The quality of these three stars is top notch thanks to the mild winter. You simply can’t get fresher produce than this. Harvested the day before and rushed to the market by 7.00am. You can see, by the shine on the strawberries, that they are straight off the plants. The Avocados are usually green but are very quick to ripen with the added bonus that they haven’t been pinched and prodded by countless others before you , so no nasty black bruises inside when you cut them open. And of course the asparagus bunches are presented so beautifully with their stems in water. If freshness is important to you, the Farmers’ Market has got to be your first port of call.

TE AWAMUTU STARTS AGAIN

If Daylight Saving has come round, it means that the Thursday afternoon market at Te Awamutu is back in business. There will be a mass return of happy customers who have gone without their weekly market fix for almost 5 months. Never fear TA – rescue is at hand. See you every Thursday afternoon from now through to the end of Daylight Saving. (Next April)!

VOLARE ALMOND CROISSANTS

At Hamilton there are two very delicious stalls side by side selling tempting naughty things. Volare along with their popular range of sour dough breads is now selling Almond Croissants which they make from scratch. They do have a machine to roll and reroll the rich buttery pastry into the familiar flakey layers which typify a good croissant but then they go one step further and fill the cooked croissant with a Frangipane filling which is a butter cream with ground almonds and vanilla. They sprinkle the croissants with thinly sliced almonds prior to baking and the result is a very special treat which I would respectfully suggest would feed two people as it is so enormous.

HOMEMADE FUDGE AND CHOCOLATE

The other delicious stall is Kracka Chocolates - a newbie which started with us last Sunday. Fudge is a weakness of mine. I know, I know. I am always extolling the virtues of living and eating healthy but as an occasional treat, a little fudge is a nice nibble. Kaye has, among others, Chocolate, Butterscotch and Russian Fudge and she sells these in small packets so you don’t feel too naughty when you indulge. She also has Rocky Road which she tells me is mixed by her husband Ian who apparently has a lighter hand than her when it comes to combining the marshmallows and the biscuits into the chocolate without squishing them. There is also the old fashioned favourite Coconut Rough. Visit Kaye’s stall for a taste of your childhood.

BANGIN BANGERS

Refugee from the corporate world of IT, Damian Lilliman has arrived at the market with his blue, black and white striped trailer and all I can say is – ‘Get down there!’ Those customers who I watched at the Hamilton market munching their way through these new age Hot Dogs were very satisfied with their purchases. These are Hot Dogs like you have never ever tasted before. Forget the mechanically recovered meat with its lurid red plastic skin – these bangers come straight from Jono Walker of Soggy Bottom Holdings. Real free range pork bangers, handmade without fillers or nitrates or preservatives. The bread rolls are hot out of the Volare ovens and the range of toppings and home made sauces are imaginative and delicious. – Check out the Afreakan, The Frank Tank and others to whet your appetite. Forget breakfast. Just eat at the market.

UPDATES

A few tweaks are required as some notices from earlier blogs have now changed so to bring everything up to date please note the following:
  • Lasco Salamis are no longer attending the Cambridge Market due to the pressure of their success which is a good thing for them!. They are now supplying their excellent low fat, low salt salamis to New World and Countdown Supermarkets nationwide so the Cambridge customers who developed a taste for these healthy salamis can now purchase them at their local supermarket. Trudi Peet tells me that Hamilton is now the only market they attend as they enjoy meeting their customers face to face and talking about their product but the family needed at least one day off a week so Saturday it was and Cambridge lost the toss.
  • I did say that Ian Dunn of Granny Dunn would not be coming to Hamilton with his jams, marmalades and pickles due to his having a big shoulder op but he tells me that he is managing to attend both markets now so we can all breathe a sigh of relief that his renown Raspberry and Cointreau jam can still be bought on both Saturdays in Cambridge and Sundays in Hamilton.
  • Wholly Cow are no longer at the Cambridge Market but their new shop is up and running so Cambridge customers can get their farm fresh meat 6 days a week.
  • Organic Herbs and Seedlings are not returning to the markets but there will be a wide range of vegetable and herb seedling available in a few weeks as other plant sellers take up the slack. While the new seedling sellers are not organically certified, they will be growing their vegetable seedlings without artificial fertilisers and without chemical sprays, meeting the demands of customers.
  • You can bring your kitchen scraps for worm bin recycling to Meg at the Celtic Cuisine Stall. You can recycle your egg cartons with both Trevor and Mike and you can bring empty black plastic seedling containers back to Jen’s Plants or Meg for reusing.
That’s all the gossip I have for this week. Enjoy the Spring sun and check out Te Awamutu Market on Thursday afternoons if you like to escape the madding crowds.

Meg Daly
Celtic Cuisine