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Markets: TA 21st,Cambridge 23rd & Hamilton 24th March

And a belated Happy St Paddy’s day for the 17th March to you all. As you may realize St Patrick who is the patron saint of Ireland brought some Irish wet weather to New Zealand on Sunday much to the relief of farmers and gardeners and people depending on tank water everywhere. However the extremely dry and hot weather we have had up until now is wonderful for grapes and what’s good for the grapes is good for the melons. You can make the most of a bumper harvest of great quality grapes and melons at the moment.
We still have lots and lots of tomatoes, The Tomato Man has just started harvesting his later crop of tomatoes which have the terrific intense flavour that real tomatoes should have. Mike Roach has bucketloads for $10 and you get to keep the bucket. David from Plainsview Orchard has interesting heirloom varieties of tomatoes all shapes and sizes. Eggs plants, capsicums, gherkins, cucumbers and pumpkins, carrots, pears and apples, lettuce and herbs, grapes and passionfruit are available. Lots on offer and lots to choose from. All grown locally and freshly picked as close to the market as possible. We have had to say goodbye to Avocados and Sweetcorn this week – all over until next season. Hope you enjoyed them while they lasted!
We are excited to welcome back Phillip with his wonderful locally grown pears. This must be Phil’s 4th or 5th year of selling pears at the Hamilton Market. He bought a lifestyle property with an established pear orchard about 6 years ago and has worked hard to get it producing well. He is an arborist by trade so knows a lot about pruning and caring for trees hence the excellent production. The pear orchard is a sideline for him but it keeps him super busy during the harvesting season.

And it must be autumn because along with the ripe pears and apples and pumpkins comes Oyster mushrooms. Lennart Prinz of Prinz Mushrooms returned to the Hamilton Market last Sunday after a conspicuous absence of 4 months. Although his mushrooms are grown in a temperature controlled environment, this summer was simply too hot and dry for them. However eating seasonally is just that. Mushrooms occur naturally during the cooler wetter autumnal season so now in March they are doing what comes naturally – fruiting and thus producing the mushrooms we know and love.  Lennart will give you a handout which offers a bit of background about how to handle the mushrooms. For instance they should be torn and not cut as this best preserves the structure, in the same way as lettuce should be torn and not cut. I guess that tearing separates the individual cells along their walls whilst cutting with a knife slices through the cells walls allowing the cell contents to spill out. Must check out this theory on Google. What would we do without it?

Anyhow Lennart also has dried mushrooms and smoked pickled mushrooms. Both of these are excellent as a pantry staple as they will keep for months and months. Whenever you need a mushroom hit (during the summer months for example) the dried mushroom will plump up when added to stock or the liquid of a dish and offer excellent flavour and texture . They are only 2 dollars more than the fresh mushrooms and well worth the extra for the convenience. The smoked pickled mushrooms are a real European taste as a side with cheese and crackers or as part of an antipasto with salami and grilled capsicum.
Lennart is a totally organic sustainable Raglan dude and he walks the talk. As well as growing the mushrooms he makes his own range of fantastic sauces using local organic plums, tomatoes, onions and chillies. He smokes his own chillies to make an astonishing smokey chilli sauce based on the famous chipolatle sauce from Mexico. He even has recycled labels made from self sticking wallpaper lovingly cut out by hand with a serrated scissors. We are so lucky to have Lennart at our Hamilton market. He adds a certain authenticity with his focus on organics and sustainability and he really deserves success.
Another newbie to the market is the delightful ‘Cake Pop and Cookie’ stall. Say hi to Sheta Swinerd. Her stall is so pretty that it really stands out so you won’t miss it. 4 varieties of cupcakes are on offer each week beautifully presented and always changing. I got to taste her Oreo and Cookie Dough and her Apple and Cinnamon cupcakes last Sunday as I needed to do some background research for this blog (yeah right!) Sheta will do specialist orders for parties and weddings so if either of these events are on your agenda in the near future, why not have a chat with her. What are the Cake Pops of the title I hear you ask? I didn’t get to taste these but they looked amazing – lollipops made of cake dipped in chocolate and once again beautifully presented.

If you are a regular shopper at any of our three markets we would like to thank you for your loyalty and continuing support of local enterprise. As stall holders we are reliant on our customers for our livelihood. If you have any concerns or if you feel we could do better please let us know. A new Trust has recently been elected and they are eager to continue to develop the market to its fullest potential. Any comments from the public are welcome be they brickbats or bouquets.  Talk to us on Facebook or write to Waikato Farmers’ Market Trust PO Box 4400, Hamilton East.

Mark it in your diary,
mark it on your calender,
mark it on the back of your hand,
Market on a Sunday (or a Thursday or a Saturday depending on where you live!)

Ka kite ano
Meg Daly
Celtic Cuisine
PS Easter Hot Cross buns and Italian Easter Biscuits available at the markets up until Easter which is 31st March so two more weeks to go.