Cambridge 20th & Hamilton 21st April

Right, I am sitting here surrounded by lots of ideas for this week’s blog. Hold on a mo while I get my thoughts in order!

A quick run down of what is available in the fruit and vegetable line first  - Late crop tomatoes. Tomatoes are starting to edge up in price because they really are a summer crop and I don’t know if you have noticed (!) but it is getting a little chilly early mornings and evenings now that autumn is here and the tomatoes get a bit sulky as a result. We had no less than 5 stalls selling tomatoes at the market at the peak but this has reduced to the indoor tomato growers now;The Tomato Man, Pirongia Harvest and Plainsview Orchards.

Of course we are now getting the autumn staples such as pumpkin and potatoes, carrots and turnips as well as broccoli and garlic. Much and all as I adore capsicums, courgettes and egg plants I do like to keep them to their season and I can just feel the gradual giving way of summery basil and garlic flavoured ratatouilles to fragrant thyme enhanced root vegetable soups and slow cooked meat ragouts (which is a fancy word for stew). Having said that I have to emphasise that there will be capsicums and tomatoes available at the FMs right up until the edge of winter and both these marry just fine with the winter fare.

In terms of fruit we have Feijoas, Passionfruit, Apples, Pears and of course the absolutely fabulous Lusty’s Hothouse Grapes. I don’t really have to spell it out once again but I can’t resist – all of the above are grown within a 40 kilometre radius of Hamilton and Cambridge by the people who are selling them to you at the market. It’s something to be proud of.
ROBERTO’S KITCHEN-Hand Made South Italian Food – Vegetarian and Vegan
Roberto’s business card reads: ‘Made in NZ with Italian Heart and Hands’ and so it is! I am impressed at how Roberto di Denia has developed his ready-to-eat food business in such as way as to appeal to busy, health conscious people of Hamilton. To start with every single piece of gnocchi and fettuccine is made by hand and you can really feel the love in the flavour and texture of the sauces and the pasta. If you haven’t tried his food yet, slip in a $5.00 mini pack into your shopping bag and give it a whirl at home. I did just this with his Mushroom Fettucine this week. With a tossed salad on the side it was actually enough for 2 people for lunch (that’s a mere $2.50 per portion). OMG heaven on a plate. – Once you are hooked you can go back for the larger Family Size ready-to-eat meals which range from $10.00 for 400grm of genuine Italian Lasanga with spinach, mushroom and cheese to $14 for 650 grms of Lemon and Pumpkin Risotto or Potato Gnocchi and Blue Cheese and Spinach Sauce (both of which are vegan incidentally). $16 will get you an 800grm Lasagna. To put this all in perspective when you go out for a meal – a $16 main for one would be one of the cheaper options, right? Roberto’s divine $16 Vegetarian Lasagna will serve 3 – 4 people – Oh yeah.

So that the busy health conscious people of Hamilton can also host a brilliant talian dinner party in the time it takes to boil an egg, Roberto will deliver to yoIur home a fabulous array of his authentic hand made meals for you to dish up with pride. You can either pretend you did it yourself or you can give Roberto his due and say that you had your private Italian chef to rustle it up for you. His website is www.robertoskitchen.co.nz.
(PS he does genuine tiramisu and apple strudel loaf for pudding too.)

It so happens that Bella Pane is Italian for ‘Beautiful Bread’ but I don’t think that Mike Tucker-Strachan can claim Italian heritage as Roberto can– oops, could be wrong, however, what he can claim is that he is the only baker at the market who makes Gluten Free Bread. He has a great range of options all of which cost $8.00 and which include plain white, cheese and herb, seven seed and grain, fig and walnut, pesto parmesan and fruit loaf. He even has a dairy free and gluten free loaf for those who are very restricted in what they can eat. Not only does he have bread but also pizza bases, pastry and caramel and chocolate gooey slices. He even has GF rolls and garlic bread formed in baguette trays as anyone who knows about gluten free bread batter understands that it has a wet pouring consistency which cannot be formed into shapes by hand like ordinary bread.
As well as being able to buy directly from Mike at the Cambridge, Hamilton and Te Awamutu markets you can order on line at www.bellapane.co.nz or e-mail order through info@bellapane.co.nz

I am always keenly interested when long term stallholders come up with new ideas and good old Jono Walker from Soggy Bottom Holdings has some delicious new products handmade by him and his wonderful fellow ex pat pommie chef Caroline. Pork and Bacon Pate is now available – I think this is first time we have ever had pate at the market. Jono tells me that he is very proud of how it has turned out. The ingredients list looks dead impressive and I strongly suspect that Celtic Cuisine Oatcakes would be the perfect partner for such an august product.

As for the Authentic English Pork Pies – if you haven’t tried one yet, you are missing out. Just look at the photo below. How can you resist?
Besides the smaller $7.00 pork pies you can get a great big family one for $20.00. Jono usually only has four or five of these so get in early if you want to feed the family. Don’t forget these are traditionally eaten cold with some real pickled onions (see Mels or Granny Dunne) and a pint of bitter (see Cock and Bull!).
For only $12.00 or so he also has a very interesting Guinness and Pork pie which you bake off yourself. The filling is pre-cooked savoury pork mixture and the pastry surround is genuine hot water crust pastry which comes uncooked. All you have to do is bung it in the oven for 30 – 45 minutes and bingo! you have a gorgeous freshly baked pie which bears absolutely no resemblance to the dreadful mass produced meat pies you get in the supermarkets. If you are a pie connoisseur look no further than Soggy Bottom at Cambridge and Hamilton markets and at Te Awamutu during the summer season.

And now that I come to mention it, Te Awamutu Farmer’s Market is closed, sadly, for the next 6 months as we don’t have council permission to continue to sell at the Selwyn Lane site until next September when Daylight Saving returns although this situation is being looked by the Farmers’ Market Trust. A few stalwarts are continuing to sell at Homeward Furniture Store on Thursday afternoons but this is being billed as a Produce Market and doesn’t come under Waikato Farmers’ Market auspices.

Right that’s it until next time. Looking forward to seeing you at the markets!

Meg Daly
Celtic Cuisine.