Wesley Market, a hidden gem

Most produce and farmers markets in Auckland run at weekends, but in a cosmopolitan city where not everyone works Monday to Friday, and sport and kids' activities bite into the weekend, it’s great to discover local markets open on weekdays.

A few weeks back, Wick Nixon from Wicked Wellbeing posted a video for Healthy Puketapapa Community Kai, cooking pad thai in the Wesley Market, using ingredients sourced from the market stallholders, which inspired an overdue visit to this long running – established 1994 – local produce market.

Friday morning – in between the showers and after the worst of rush hour traffic – it was a quick trip across town.  Finding a carpark in the surrounding residential streets was a breeze.

Stalls stretched lengthways along a paved enclave surrounded with trees.  Gazebos flapped in the gusty wind, tightly strapped to the trucks and vans to form a much needed wind break. 

Wandering up to the market entrance

Wandering up to the market entrance

Joining the crowds

Joining the crowds

Vegetables, salad greens, peppers, tomatoes and pungent bunches of herbs jostled for attention across a number of stalls.  Stone fruit, bananas, citrus, melons and cherries on offer; you had the perfect ingredients for a summer fruit salad right in front of you.  Wesley Market focuses on fresh produce, grown by the stallholders themselves, with only one food truck and one seafood vendor – selling an amazing array of whole fish – the only other vendors at the market this week.  The variety and number of stallholders varies from week to week; this week's weather having an impact on produce availability.   

A melting pot of cultures, it was interesting how many stallholders spoke limited English.  This was a real communication challenge when you wanted to know what an unusual vegetable was and how best to cook it.  Your sign language skills will come in handy!

These ladies spoke no English, which proved quite a challenge

These ladies spoke no English, which proved quite a challenge

A group of men seemed more intent on playing a board game than selling the produce on their table; their noisy banter attracting a curious onlooker.

More interested in their board game

More interested in their board game

On the way out stopped for a quick chat with Yael Shochat, who looked quite perplexed when it was mentioned this was The Foodie Inc’s first visit to Wesley Market.  Yael is a market regular and shops twice weekly at Wesley Market (and Sundays at Avondale Market), for fresh produce for her restaurant Ima Cuisine.  If you’ve eaten at Ima Cuisine, then you know how just good the local produce here must be.

Summer fruit bowl

Summer fruit bowl

The Wesley Market is working towards a bigger community zero waste initiative by reducing the use of plastic bags, encouraging people to buy local and recycling so don’t forget your recyclable shopping bag and say no if a plastic bag is offered (which seemed to happen a little too often).  Don’t forget to take cash, as stallholders didn’t appear to accept eftpos, and small cash transactions are so much quicker for everyone too.

Wesley Market – 740 Sandringham Road Extension, Mt Roskill, Auckland

Open Tuesdays and Fridays 7:30am – 1pm

If you take a visit, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Michelle

Long Weekend at The Mount

For many, Mt Maunganui, affectionately know as 'The Mount' is synonymous with the kiwi summer, surfing the waves and rowdy New Years parties.  Long after the summer holidays, with little planning other than booking accommodation, we headed off with two 10 year olds in tow.  Our last holiday(s) at The Mount was a very distant memory for both my sister and I so we were open-minded about what to see and do.

Spectacular view from the summit of The Mount (photo by Sarah aged 10 years)

Spectacular view from the summit of The Mount (photo by Sarah aged 10 years)

Steps, surf and sunset

The vista from the summit of The Mount after the strenuous 347 steps climb, at times teetering close to the edge, is simply breathtaking – it’s worth the exertion. And while watching the paragliders float effortlessly down from the summit at sunset was quite spectacular, I’m sure they hung around for a little longer simply to enjoy the glorious view before landing on the sandy beach.

First of many paragliders landing on Mt Maunganui beach

First of many paragliders landing on Mt Maunganui beach

From the white sand beaches of Mount Maunganui and Papamoa to the Hot Salt Water Pools and the Bay Wave Aquatic Centre, water will always be a huge attraction. The kids were excited to have a pool and spa at the apartment too.

The Foodie Inc’s top picks for eating out

Quirky bar area at Mount Social Club

Quirky bar area at Mount Social Club

Shopping and Markets

The main strip is lined with fashion retailers, specialist homewares and gift shops and an amazing assortment of eating places to suit everyone’s tastes.  Take time to meander down one side of Maunganui Street and back up the other, stopping for a coffee or cold drink along the way.

Sundays would not be complete without a visit to the farmers market; held rain or shine 9am - 1pm in the main street car park. Stalls crammed with locally grown fruit and vegetables, artisan breads, chutneys, relishes and honey, cheese, fish and meat; and not forgetting the freshly made to order pancakes, hot Cornish pasties and great coffee too.

Sunday morning at Mt Maunganui farmers market

Sunday morning at Mt Maunganui farmers market

And if you time it right (and we didn’t) the first Saturday of every month is The Little Big Markets. Look out for Food Truck Friday, a new winter event happening fortnightly from Friday 8 May. For more information on Bay of Plenty events click here Little Big Events

Mount Manganui Beach

Mount Manganui Beach

Go on, you know you want a long weekend away, especially now winter has appeared with vengeance! The Mount caters for everyone, any time of the year.  We won’t be leaving it so long to visit Mount Maunganui again.

Michelle

Hawkes Bay Mystery Box

For the past 10 days I have been down in the beautiful Hawke’s Bay soaking up some sunshine, exploring fabulous food places and wineries, and experiencing the region through the eyes of a foodie traveller.  And staying with friends provided the perfect opportunity to cook for them using local produce - something I love doing, and a superb way of saying thanks.

Early in my stay, with a few hints dropped by my friends Kim and Rick’s teenagers that I should get cooking and that they would love salmon, we sat down to a delicious lime and thyme salmon fillet, cooked on the Weber.  With slow baked potatoes, feta and basil stuffed portobello mushrooms from Te Mata Mushrooms and a green salad, the simple flavours made it a very enjoyable meal.  And with the boys providing the BBQ expertise - okay, with a little ‘bossy’ supervision from me - and the washing up, it was a joint effort too.

During that evening, and for the life of me I can’t remember exactly why but then I am a huge fan of Masterchef, we decided that is would be fun for Brad, Kyle and Erica (Brad’s girlfriend) to cook for us.  But to make it a fun and interesting challenge they would get a mystery box of mostly local ingredients  to use, thanks to a visit to the Hawke's Bay Farmers' Market the weekend prior.  Very simple rules: must use every ingredient in the box, full access to pantry and fridge but can only cook on BBQ. The thinking here was that this would mean less mess inside - boy was I wrong how messy prep can get. Let’s just say, I was glad I didn’t have to clean up after them!

Hawke's Bay mystery box

Hawke's Bay mystery box

After the mystery box reveal, and the delight - yeah right, who am I kidding, of finding a yellow zucchini, half Kim’s herb garden and that the mystery box was vegetarian, we decided to let them know there were also chicken breasts in the fridge - a sigh of relief.  Oh, and eight people for dinner that night too.

Brad and Kyle - mystery box revealed

Brad and Kyle - mystery box revealed

I then disappeared into the study to write one of last week’s blog posts.  But honestly it sounded like an episode of Masterchef - the banter was very entertaining and of course because I couldn’t see what they were doing it sounded even funnier.  It’s worth mentioning that if you set a mystery box challenge for your family, it’s a good idea to put a time limit on proceedings too - we didn’t eat until 8:30pm!  Although they did decide mid-way through to make an avocado and red onion guacamole once our hunger pains kicked in!

Chicken, zucchini, red onion and mushroom kebabs

Chicken, zucchini, red onion and mushroom kebabs

And the peaches did get used - served halved with berries and lemon and mint sorbet - the latter shop bought, which caused lots more laughter as it tasted just like a lemonade popsicle!

Good luck, if you decide to take on the mystery box challenge – love to hear how things go.

Happy cooking.

Michelle 

Hawke's Bay Farmers' Market

I can’t get enough of farmers markets and here in the Hawke's Bay you are spoilt for choice: Hastings Night Market on Thursdays; Napier Urban Food Market and during summer months Black Barn Market on Saturday mornings; and if you can drag yourself out of bed on Sunday mornings - Hawke's Bay Farmers' Market at the A&P Showgrounds in Hastings, where produce for sale must be locally grown and produced.

Did someone say tomatoes?

Did someone say tomatoes?

Last Sunday morning we headed for Hastings Showgrounds and despite planning to grab coffee first - you are spoilt for choice here and even though there is an inevitable 10 minute wait at each vendor, no one seems to mind - we wandered around the first dozen or so stalls deciding what we would come back and grab once we had coffee in hand: stonefruit; avocados; olive oil; and so much more.

Stunning stonefruit from Pernel

Stunning stonefruit from Pernel

With this market boasting at least 60 regular stallholders, plus many more on a semi-regular basis, the highlight for me is talking to the local producers about their products and why they are so passionate about what they do.  From the couple selling craft beer while working full time, with a goal to make it their living within 12 months, to the old hands who started out selling at farmers markets and now sell throughout New Zealand but still turn up every weekend.  Everyone has a story and people love to share so make sure you’re not in a hurry as this is somewhere you should take your time. It’s fabulous just to sit and people watch, and from the looks of it, it’s a weekly meeting place for many - you never know who you might bump into.

Hawke's May Farmers' Market - meeting place

Hawke's May Farmers' Market - meeting place

For anyone interested, more photos of the trip to the Hawke's Bay will go up on the website in the next couple of weeks so don’t forget to check out the other fabulous local food producers The Foodie Inc has been talking to.

Delicious Bay Blueberries

Delicious Bay Blueberries

This weekend, make time to get out and explore your local farmers market - you never know what you might find and who you will meet. Love to hear where you went - comment below or on the Facebook post.

Enjoy your Waitangi weekend, I tend to!

Michelle

For more information: Hawke's Bay Farmers' Market