Note: Mostly due to my excitement last Sunday at getting to meet and chat with so many stallholders, I have so much to share. I was going to do it all at once but thought it'd be better to get part of it out there first, so... this post will be divided up! Come back soon for Part 2 :)
If you've been reading this blog for a while you might have read the last couple posts on the City Market. Last Sunday I was lucky enough to be given a tour by Yellow Brick Road's lovely Rachel Taulelei, a co-founder of the market (along with Martin Bosley). Although I'm a pretty regular shopper at the City Market, I was super excited to get to learn more about how the market came about and chat with so many people who are so passionate about what they do best - food.
Rachel shouted me a flat white ($3.50) from Emporio's stall; although it wasn't too early I definitely appreciated the Sunday morning caffeine kick. Quite decent coffee too.
While we sipped our coffees, Rachel chatted to me about the story behind the market, how they wanted to highlight Wellington producers making top-quality products, get shoppers interacting with the people behind the food, and how the indoor location was ideal for those blustery Wellington days.
Having called Wellington home for many years now I'm definitely aware of the fierce pride that Wellingtonians have for this city, and this market seems to be a manifestation of that pride. Lots of people (myself included) are more willing to pay a little more for products when they're good quality, made locally and the producers themselves are willing to have a chat to you.
Which is exactly what I did. So, without further ado, here are the (first batch of) stalls I visited last Sunday:
First stop was Angie O, a producer of limoncello and other homemade goodies like pickled garlic and garlic sauce. I have to admit I was a bit hesitant to mix limoncello with coffee at 9 o'clock in the morning, but I'm glad I got past that to taste the three liqueurs on offer. The limoncello was quite sweet and lemony, and not at all strong (only 12% alcohol). The liamcello, made with limes, was quite sharp and sweet and possibly my favourite flavour of the three, but I was most intrigued by the alloro, a bay leaf liqueur, which was very sweet, smooth and quite full-flavoured.
Angie O also sells garlic sauce and pickled garlic. I expected the pickles to be quite strong, but they were actually very mild, more like pickled onions. Very tasty, and no scary garlic breath here!
One of the neat things about the City Market is that although around 80% of their stallholders are there on a (mostly) weekly basis, there are always new and semi-regular stalls popping up each week. One of the newer ones last week sold deliciously fresh organic apple, ginger & carrot juice from the guys behind Organic Boxes, which is similar to a CSA in that they'll deliver a box of veggies to your door every week, but without a time commitment. Hmm... this may have potential!
A weekly favourite of mine is Le Marché Français's cheese stall. Rachel explained to me that this is one of the few stalls whose products don't come from Wellington, but the variety of French cheeses on offer is to die for.
I always try to bring home a different cheese each week. They're really good about letting you have a taste, too - which can be great for those who might be overwhelmed by the array of unfamiliar varieties.
Esque Chocolate was next. I especially loved the thyme dark chocolate; the thyme brought an herbaceous freshness, like a twist on mint chocolate.
This stall has caught my eye a number of times before because of the gorgeous presentation - the detail that goes into the chocolate wrappers is breathtaking.
Brezelmania always has a stunning display of baked goods, and this week was no exception. I picked up a soft prezel for E, who loves their salty chewiness.
Brezelmania is based in Petone but also has shops in Kilburnie and Kelburn. The owners have spent time in Germany and have German friends, and sell a range of German breads and other baked treats like these gorgeous loaves of Nusszopf and Quarkzopf above.
And of course I couldn't stop drooling over these danishes. If I'm lucky sometimes I'll pick one up to eat while I shop.
Le Canard's stall is another perennial favourite at the City Market. Although their Thorndon restaurant is fantastic enough, they're also here every Sunday selling duck liver mousse, duck rillette and duck terrine (true to their name - le canard translates to "the duck" in French) along with jars of stock and little pots of steak butter.
I usually get a piece of duck terrine with fig & walnut every week and have it as a Sunday afternoon snack.
The figs and walnuts give it a real earthy heartiness, and it's savoury yet almost sweet.
Raine & Taylor, another newcomer to the market (they also sell products at Kirkaldie and Stains' cafe), had a stall full of gluten free baking. I do love my wheat products, but these were tasty anyway.
Plus it's exciting to see a stall dedicated to well-made, gluten-free goodies. I know quite a few people who are gluten intolerant who would be thrilled to find these guys!
Loukoumi Turkish Delight have been featured before on this blog - they make a really diverse range of flavoured Turkish delights.
Loukoumi make their Turkish Delight here in Wellington based on a traditional recipe the owners acquired when they bought the business a few years ago. The range of flavours is impressive, and although rose is the most popular, other traditional flavours like hazelnut and pomegranate are superb. My favourite, though, has to be feijoa - that distinctive taste goes beautifully with the soft, melting texture of the sweets.
Cupcake Sweeties is one of those stalls that I would normally gaze at longingly, but never actually indulge in. I'm so glad that I stopped by this lovely corner stall last Sunday to have a chat (and get a closer look at those darling cupcakes).
I loved the cute packaging idea for these mini cupcakes - they're the perfect size for the egg cartons. You can buy them individually or as a pack of 6; I had one lemon yoghurt mini cupcake ($2) which was tangy and moist and the perfect size for grazing. Winner!
A cool aspect of this stall is that not only do they sell exquisitely decorated cupcakes, they also sell little bits and pieces so that the DIY-minded can bake and decorate their own exquisite little cakes. A lot of these (like edible glitter) can be quite tricky to find in New Zealand so it's good to know you can get them here.
24 Carrot Dream Produce occupied the other corner stall - what a beautiful spread.
Although they don't grow the fruit and vegetables themselves, 24 Carrot Dream Produce, as suppliers to some of Wellington's top restaurants, have got top-quality produce for sale.
These baby beetroot and carrots were so cute next to the comparatively-monstrous looking garlic.
Although I usually get my fresh vegetables from the Harbourside Market next door, these veggies really did look high caliber.
The stall next door, Farmhouse Kitchen, was selling a couple different things like gigantic jars of pickled onions (so tempting) and homemade applesauce, but the star of the show here was the Macadamia Gold Muesli.
It's actually made in Cambridge and Farmhouse Kitchen have arranged to sell it at the market. At $24 per 600g bag, it's certainly not a budget cereal, but it's delicious: crunchy, nutty, quite sweet (but in a good way). And you could partly justify the price tag based on the high nut content... macadamias aren't that cheap! In fact, aside from some sweeteners, it's mostly nuts and seeds (not to mention it's gluten free!), so it's relatively healthy too.
If I wasn't pacing myself (had to leave room in my stomach to try everything!) I would have had this parfait ($6.50): muesli, yoghurt, fruit and two types of homemade fruit compote.
Apple Quarter, from Te Horo in the Horowhenua, showed off their spray-free apples and pears in full seasonal glory. The fruit trees are not only spray-free, but they're also treated using homeopathic remedies, which sounds quite intriguing.
They weren't as big or beautiful as the specimens you'd find in a supermarket, but they were crunchy and juicy and so full of flavour - a good honest apple. And pretty good value too; I got myself a 2 kg bag of Pacific Beauties for $4.
I'm going to stop here for now, but keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment - highlights to come include hazelnut pesto, smoked mussels, buttery-soft green olives, Martin Bosley's palm sugar dressing, and my thoughts on the market so far (fast approaching its 1st birthday next month).
And a preliminary thanks to Rachel Taulelei who so graciously took the time to introduce me to everyone and explain to me what goes on behind the scenes!
The City Market
The Atrium, Chaffers Dock Building
1 Herd St
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