Te Awamutu Market 23rd January

Has Summer come at last??

My goodness – if any of you good people had made the stupendous effort to come to the Te Awamutu Thursday market last week (17th January) I genuinely hope you didn’t catch your death of cold. It seemed to be a blip on the summer temperature schedule but oh my, how I shivered and whinged under my gazebo which wanted to fly away in the gale. A wintery wind came down off Pirongia and those of us who thought it was summer (i.e me) were definitely not prepared for the bitter cold and rain. I was dressed in my lightest summer blouse and had to borrow a cardigan from Henk Van Halem. Thanks for saving my life Henk! We didn’t see as many of you lovely customers at the market and I can’t say I blame you but this coming week should at least be warmer and more conducive to a bit of quality shopping. Last week I talked about Pirongia Harvest (the aforementioned Henk and his wife Pia ) and I waxed lyrical about their wonderful range of tomatoes. I promised my recipe for Tomato Heaven which I got from Peta Mathius some years ago and true to my word it will appear in this blog somewhere but you have to read it through to find it!

I have to talk about the famous Clif Fyers – our one and only Melon Man who at present is selling new potatoes whilst he awaits what promises to be a bumper harvest of the sweetest, freshest watermelon you will have every tasted. Clif is the only stallholder in the market to sport a moustache – bit of a throwback to the 70’s there but charming all the same. See if you can spot him. He usually has a cheerful smile and a great line Jersey Bennes which cost a fortune in the shops in their posh south island boxes but which you can buy from Cliff for a ridiculous $3.00 per kilo. Get in quick as they are almost finished. But once the potatoes are over his stand will be overflowing with the marvellous melons for which Clif is so famous. He tells me that he has a huge crop of other veggies this year too grown mostly for the farmer’s markets. He has 20 acres in vegetables alone not counting the 20 or so acres in melons. Clif tells me that he tends to grow vegetables that don’t need a lot of water and thrive in the hot sun of summer so to minimise the need for wasteful large scale irrigation. These would include Mediterranean vegetables such as Egg Plant, Capsicums and chillies. Watermelon are in fact desert plants –  designed to store deep ground water in their fruit. The melon range is only just starting – the miserable little melons in the shops are tasteless so just wait for Clif’s beauties – he will only harvest when his melons are at their peak of sweetness –  I just can’t recommend them enough.

If you have read this far then you deserve to have the sevret recipe for Tomato Heaven – It is so easy – One third fresh tomatoes, one third roasted tomatoes and one third sundried tomatoes. Mix all together with freshly crushed garlic, fresh chopped basil, a few grinds of pepper and rock salt , a squeeze of lemon or lime juice and a good splash of the best quality olive oil you can afford. Leave for half an hour in the fridge to marinade and then eat for a summer lunch with fresh crusty bread from Volare or Bella Pane. Bread is essential to mop up the wonderful juices. Oh no, my jaws are beginning to ache at the mere thought!

See you next week for another riveting summer blog. In the meantime I am off to source some apples and rhubarb for my apple turnovers – check them out at the Celtic Cuisine stall between Cato’s Potatoes and Pirongia Harvest. Don’t you just love the produce of summer.....?

Meg Daly
Celtic Cuisine
Te Awamutu Market  Every Thursday from 2.30ish to 6.00ish