Markets: TA 7th, Cambridge 9th & Hamilton 10th February

Waikato Farmers’ Markets Combined Blog.
Te Awamutu (Thursday 2.30 to 6.00)
Cambridge (Saturday 8.00 tp 12.00)
Hamilton (Sunday 8.00 - 12.00)

Hello everyone. From this week I am going to talk about all three markets in the one blog to save me repeating myself and boring you!. Most importantly here is the definitive up to date list of peak season fruits and vegetables that will be available at the markets this week starting Monday 4th February.

Courgettes:  Sweet as and has never seen a chiller. The more tassels = the more kernels
Various types. Flowers available too.
Chillies Various types:The very best in town. Incredible fresh and wonderfully flavoursome.
Tomatoes: Lots of interesting and tasty varieties available right now. Peak season so great value for money too.
Beans: All the colours – yellow, purple and green – slowing a bit but still available
Garlic:Locally grown. Organic available singly or in hanks.
Potatoes :Last of the Jersey Bennes but lots of other varieties coming on stream. Fir Ppples.,Heather, Nadines, Purple Hearts etc.,
Broccoli: Coming to an end. Will be more in the cooler months
Lettuce: Oodles of lettuce and mesclun combos now available.
Aubergines (Egg Plants): Just starting. This wet weather will bring them on. Tiny Ladies’ Fingers Aubergines available too and great big long pale purple ones. Very interesting.
Microgreens :Always available year round.
Carrots: Plenty available in various colours and sizes - baby and mature.
White turnips.
Fennel, Beetroot.

Cabbage: Check out the Laughing Samoans. They sell lots of fresh veggies besides their famous carrots.Season coming to a close. Be in quick. Another 2 to 3 weeks left.Only a little available right now

Strawberries: Season coming to a close – Still another few weeks to go.
Blueberries: Blueberries just keep on coming. Great buying
Passionfruit :Just starting now.  Small amount available.
Melons: Specialty of the Melon Man coming thick and fast right now as the season approaches its peak .
Rhubarb: Just terrific right now. And terrific value too .
Raspberries: Frozen available but Autumn fresh raspberries in March and April
Boysenberries: Frozen available but fresh will be around the corner
Apples:Early season Sunrise Apples – Big demand for these so get in early. Other varieties  coming  in early autumn
Nashis:Just starting. You can’t buy fresher Nashis than from here!

Gosh I hope I haven’t forgotten anything. If so I will be in big trouble!

Now that we have the business end out of the way and you all know what to expect from the fruit and vegetable point of view when you head our way for your weekly shop, I can take the opportunity to profile a few of the other stalls which add value to your market shopping experience each week. 

So, after a busy shop, a friendly chat with your favourite stallholders and a few return trips  lugging all your fresh fruit and veg back to the car in your re-usable cloth bags you deserve a bit of a sit down and a treat. So from your chair and over your chai soy latte with extra caramel shot and your chocolate croissant or fresh date scone with free butter (I can’t believe we can offer such an incredible array these days,) take time out to gaze upon some of the other stalls. Besides the meat, fish, nut, preserves, bakery and artisan cheese and bread stalls and plant and fresh flower stalls which I will talk about another day in detail, we also have a number of quality ready to eat / take away stalls which often miss out on a mention when we are so busy waxing lyrical about our amazing fresh produce.

At Te Awamutu The Beach Hutt serves up some very decent freshly prepared healthy wraps. Their lightly pan fried fish with salad wrap is very tasty and makes for a healthy takeaway or light evening meal. On the last ultra hot market day at Te Awamutu I noticed they were doing a roaring trade in freshly made Lemon Juice and Soda Coolers for only 2 bucks! The Beach Hutt can be found at Cambridge and Hamilton too.

The Korean Pancake Man –Min Lee- is at all 3 markets. Now, if you are looking to taste for something with an Asian twist – this stall is well worth a try. The Korean Pancake Man always wears his cute little red beret just like his cartoon logo so you can’t miss him. Each pancake is handmade to order so be prepared for a short wait. A portion of handmade bread dough is filled with either the savoury or sweet filling of your choice, flattened out and cooked up on a hot plate. I have to say that these pancakes are extremely good value for money. I really like the idea of having something uniquely Korean being introduced to the Waikato public by a Korean family who have made Hamilton their home. That’s what makes them locals - completely inkeeping with the spirit of the Farmers’ Markets. Where possible they use local produce from the market too.

And not forgetting The Fritter Man. Once tasted, whitebait fritters like the ones Mark Crarer serves up will never be forgotten.  When whitebait is not in season his popular mussel fritters are brilliant – generous and super tasty. He even caters for vegetarians with his courgette and feta fritters and he has a gluten free fritter option too. Mark is a definite at Hamilton every week.

The Cornish Pastie Man. Well now this very famous stall was the original quality ‘take away’ food stall at our market for a long time and he is also at all 3 markets. Cornishman Neil McAuthur has come a long way since his first foray into Cornish Pastie selling at the farmers’ markets 5 years ago and they have served as an incubator for his emerging ‘small business enterprise’. Recently his products have been accepted into Progressive Supermarkets North Island wide! Remember folks you met him and ate his pasties first here at the Waikato Farmers’ markets!

All this talk of delicious food has made me hungry so I am off to whip up a treat for myself! Mmm I think I have some Volare Sourdough Bread and a bit of Taunga Kereru’s basil pesto left. Perfect. See y’all next week.

Meg Daly (Celtic Cuisine).