Christchurch Farmers Market
These days, it seems that every village, city, and tinpot town in New Zealand has a Farmers Market. I don’t lament the fact. On the road, they are often a great source of fresh vegetables and baking. Every now and then, I come across one that is memorable—full of food magicians and intriguing produce that I can’t find anywhere else. And so it was at the Saturday Farmers Market in Christchurch where I had one of the best food-find mornings I’ve had in a long while. The venue is alluring—on the banks of the tree-fringed Avon River in a lovely park-like garden next to Deans Bush Reserve. Crowds moved in a steady stream beneath the blue canopies of around 50 stalls set up in the shadow of the historic Riccarton House. Displayed was a tantalising line-up of innovative morsels. I started my culinary journey with two small puffy Dutch pancakes called poffertjes. I then moved on to taste Lupo’s delicious organic vegan nut cheeses, tried Feijoa syrup and hazelnuts oils fresh from Rangiora, ate a Stewart Island oyster pie and an empanada, and tossed back a lip-smacking juice of fresh beetroot, apple and ginger. That was breakfast, and I needed a break. I sat on the banks of the Avon and watched two mallard ducks scavenging for their own feast. For morning tea, I managed an authentic Indian chai made with seven spices. It was aromatic and filling, and I am sure it was good for me. On a low stool sat a thin Japanese man placidly cooking ‘medicinal’ shiitake mushrooms in a small fry pan. He assured they were good for me, but by then, I’d switched to a sampling-only phase. A Spanish man called Mariano offered me his authentic Spanish chorizo. I tasted Ali McGregor limoncello, a Ninja teppan burger, 11 styles of olives from The Volcano Market, and as much as I could manage from the array of locally made cheeses, oils, chutneys, and baking. I stoically ignored the plethora of good-for-me fresh produce, but around lunchtime, I managed a salty, fatty, and downright delicious bacon sandwich that the vendor assured would make me a happier person. And it did. I waddled off for a walk through Dean’s Bush feeling that life was good.