Liz French applies the “Do Something New, New Zealand” mantra to her weekly market experience.

We go to the market most Saturdays and buy the same products. Having embraced the wonderful new things to do within our shores, it was time I applied that attitude to my taste buds. Time to treat our market visit as a voyage of discovery rather than a stock up stop.

Instead of buying the usual herbs at Liberty Growers, I discovered shiso, a member of the mint family. As the name suggests, it enhances Japanese cuisine, salads, soups and stews while delivering a healthy dose of antioxidants and goodies. Liberty also sell Pinoli, otherwise known as pine nuts, and I learnt that not all pine trees produce edible nuts and that pine nuts probably originated here from the seeds of the Mediterranean pine brought back by soldiers from Gallipoli.

At Mount Eliza Cheese I was given a sample of a deliciously sharpish, nutty, slightly Parmesan Farmhouse Cheddar. Its exceptional flavour is due to Eliza’s skill and the raw milk. I had no idea that Mount Eliza is the only cheese producer in New Zealand with a licence to make cheese with unpasteurised milk. The cheese we took home is supplied to top restaurants, not supermarkets.

Six Toed Fox Organics 2021 had a pile of that mysterious (to me!) white bulbous daikon. One was slipped into my basket, and I was informed it is an Asian form of radish which can be grated in salads, eaten in strips with dips, roasted, added to stews. Who knew!

Is chocolate pasta a real thing? At Real Pasta it is. While I was reeling at the thought of chocolate bolognaise, Brian from Real Pasta explained that their chocolate fettuccine combines best with savoury sauces, especially creamy mushroom. You can also serve it with berries and cream; pasta dessert—that’s new!

Talking of mushrooms led me to Marama’s Mushrooms where Billy showed me the stringy Enoki mushroom, good for stir fries and in soups. In spring he will be offering us the Pekepeke-kiore mushroom, native to New Zealand. Its alternative name, coral tooth fungus, is very apt.

Our habit of buying only lavash at Zand Kitchen was broken by the addition of olive and rosemary infused Turkish bread. “Absolutely delicious,” said the partner, devouring it for lunch later. Zand’s turmeric savoury rolls topped with toasted cumin seeds are an unusual and tasty way to add this superfood to your diet. The bread theme continued at Flaveur. When I stopped there for my usual croissant and asked what was new, I was handed a soft bretzel, which is pretzel in German and one of several new bread products to watch out for at Flaveur.

I associated Milly’s Fine Foods with pickles and preserves so was pleasantly surprised to find she makes a yummy and very versatile strawberry, lime and mint dressing. Great with lamb and salads.

The self-appointed head chef in our household has made many a mean fish pie using kahawai from Smokey Seafoods. However, he agrees that the smoked kingfish, which you buy in chunks, is almost too good for white sauce and should go direct onto crackers.

Fish pie uses a lot of milk, and I have been refilling my bottle at Jersey Girl Organics for months but did not realise that this is the only place I can get pure unadulterated Jersey milk in a glass bottle. Bringing the bottle back each week makes it more sustainable and cheaper than supermarket milk.

Deciding to give Trixie, the market manager, the last word, I asked her for her most unusual pick. “Luffa,” she replied. Like me, she had thought a loofah was something you scrubbed your back with. Turns out it is both. Jasmin and Peter of Hetherdale Produce grow this Asian vegetable which is like a long cucumber with hard edges. Young luffas are good to eat and mature luffas dried for bathroom use.

I am sure my foray only scratched the surface, and there are plenty of other discoveries to be made at Tauranga Farmers Market when you decide to taste something new, New Zealand!




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