Markets:TA 4th,Cambridge 6th & Hamilton 7th April

Hi all. We had a lovely steady market on Easter Sunday. And yes, in case you were wondering, we are allowed to trade legally. A few years ago there was confusion over whether we had permission to sell on Easter Sunday. There are exceptions to this law such as tourist towns (Taupo and Queenstown), Garden Centres (finally), Corner Dairies, Petrol Stations and Events and thankfully Farmers’ Markets nationwide were classed as ‘Events’ as we are not open every day of the week and were, therefore, and ever will be, allowed to trade on Easter Sunday.

Do you remember when it was illegal to buy wine on Sundays in New Zealand and the supermarkets had to drape the wine section with covers? Hilarious now looking back but how many more outdated laws have to be put up with I wonder until the stupidity of them in the modern world finally becomes obvious to all?
Luckily you can buy wine on Sundays at the Farmers’ Market now. Look out for the sophisticated stall that is Lane’s End Organic wines. The dinasaur of a local law says Winemaker Reiner is only allowed to sell every second weekend . The outdated reasoning behind this is that Reiner gives out tastings of his lovely wine and the local council bylaw is based on the belief that if he did this every week, it would increase the tendency of Hamiltonians to become alchoholics…how patronizing and where is the evidence base?
Okay enough politics but you, our important customers, need to know why you can only buy wine every second week from your market. I guess it is well worth waiting for and you can brag that not only is it organic but the grapes are grown right here off Newell’s Road. I’ve been to the vinery and it is just marvelous. Only organic principals are employed here. Reiner keeps cows for the purposes of making compost and he grows companion plants to ensure plenty of bees visit during flowering and he uses a special type of organic spray which helps the vines stand up to frost. He doesn’t used any type of herbicide and instead has grass strips growing between his vines which are mown down by various herbivores at certain times of the years. The quality of the wine shines out and the presentation is beautiful. This is a very special treat or a gift which sings of the richness of our Waikato region.
I’m going to talk about Pears again this week as the season is upon us and there is plenty available. We have one major local pear producer who goes by the name of Phillip Platje. He has officially named his stall TreePak Top Pears. I talked to him last week and he tells me that finally his orchard has reached perfection – It only took 20 years! He has planted over 1000 pear trees on his 2 acre property and grows them along wires keeping them pruned so that they look like a series of hedges. This system controls the height of the trees enabling them to be picked by hand usually by Phil on his own . The husbandry employed to get the orchard to this level is thanks to the training and skill of Phil who is an arborist. He is justifiably proud of his achievements and you can try his Comice, Conference and Duchenne pears at the market. Be warned, pears have to harvested when still firm for handling and storing purposes. The pears you buy from Phil will need a few days in the fruit basket to become perfect.
Mel’s Preserves is a most interesting stall. I had the chance last week to really spend some time looking over their extraordinary range of pickles, jams, chutneys and jellies . I bought a pot of Lime and Ginger Marmalade, a Red Pepper Jelly and a bottle of Preserved Lemons which I have lusted after for ages but never had the nerve to buy. Apparently they are an essential ingredient in North African Cooking and should go well with Harrissa seasoning which incidentally can be bought from Taunga Kereru at the Hamilton Market.
Marian and David Ngan of Mels Preserves are supposed to be retired after a lifetime of working in the fruit and veg business but their interest in making preserves from their surplus shop produce for themselves has blossomed into another business venture completely! Mel’s Preserves can be found at the Te Awamutu Market and at the Hamilton Market. They also have a wonderful range of pot plants also carefully grown by them.
And now that Easter is behind us we have a lovely autumn season to look forward to. It’s time to store food for winter. The nuts are drying, pumpkins and apples and pears are here in force. Tomatoes need to be turned into purees and relishes. Fruit needs to be transformed into fruit leathers or jams or jellies or just made into frozen bags of fruit pulp – peaches, pears, Passionfruit. By the way have you tried Passionfruit Curd yet? OMG it is divine. Check out Nigella Lawson’s recipe on the net and be prepared to be adored as a Kitchen God/Godess.

Talk next week!
Meg Daly
Celtic Cuisine