Note: this is the second half of a 2-part post on my tour of the City Market earlier this month. Part 1 is here. Older posts from previous visits to the City Market are here and here.
Well, I can't believe almost a week has gone by since my last post but it's been a busy* few days. I'm about to head to the Food Show** (which is at Westpac Stadium all weekend) but first I want to share the rest of the photos from my City Market tour a couple Sundays ago.
Picking up where I left off... I had just gotten around to Zoe's Organic Seedlings' stall. Grow-your-own seems to be picking up speed lately (I planted my first vegetable garden last year!) so a stand selling locally-raised baby plants was hardly out of place here at the market.
Beautiful, healthy-looking vegetable and herb seedlings were arranged side by side, hand-labelled and wrapped in damp newspaper for the journey home. I picked up a pack of six cavolo nero seedlings ($2.50) - although I won't get to eat this particular purchase for a while yet, they look great in my garden and will be well worth the wait, I'm sure.
If you've wandered down Courtenay Place recently you might have noticed Brat Pack's little shop/stand right outside the Paramount Theatre.
Their bratwurst, venison sausage and more are popular among late-night revellers, but lately they've been just as popular with the Sunday morning crowd with their stall at the market. My favourite? Probably a tie between the venison & red wine brat or the cheese kransky, with onions and lots of mustard.
Just around the corner was Fantail Grove, a Greytown-based producer of olive oil, olives and hazelnuts. I loved the range of olive oil from different types of olive, as well as the different flavours - lemon was my favourite.
I love hazelnuts, so got chatting to Margot, the stallholder. She told me about the difference fresh roasting makes to the flavour - since the roasted ones were roasted the night before, I picked up a bag to snack on. She was also quite willing to give instructions on how to roast raw nuts yourself, which I might try next time I visit this stall.
Fantail Grove were also selling hazelnut pesto- fresh and herbaceous but with a sweet, nutty depth from the bits of hazelnut.
Their hazelnut & chocolate spread was also delicious: think Nutella, but not as solid, with a definite 'artisan' feel, a bit more elegant and refined.
Another Greytown stall, The French Baker has had a mention in my first post on the City Market, but it remains a Market favourite.
These brown sugar brioches ($4) are high on my list of reasons for getting up on a Sunday morning - sticky, soft delights. They're so good that I haven't even tried any of Moise the baker's gorgeous patisseries, though I'm sure they're just as delicious.
These plump, green gaeta olives ($6/pot) were one of several olive varieties sold by Olive's Olives (the name, I'm told, is a play on "I love olives"). I was eager to try them as I hadn't heard of this variety before (these olives actually come from Italy). They were quite unique with an almost-buttery flavour, and a firm texture; I couldn't stop thinking about them all week and had to go back last Sunday for a pot to take home.
They also sell beautiful Coromandel Smoked Fish, another one of the few things sold at the market that doesn't come from Wellington. I didn't try any this time, but apparently the smoked fish is to die for.
And they seem quite popular - I only just managed to sneak a photo of these garlic mussels ($5/pot) before another pot-full was spirited away by an eager market-goer.
Paula's Pantry was another one of the newer additions to the market, with gorgeous baked goods and homemade sauces and chutneys.
This dukkah spice mix was great with the bread and oil out for sampling, and I loved the suggestion on the package to eat it with soft boiled eggs and soldiers.
Of course many of us know Martin Bosley's as one of Wellington's finer dining establishments, but he's also got a weekly presence at the City Market. This blood orange syrup ($10) made for a delicious cordial with some sparkling water. I was lucky enough to receive a bottle from Martin and I've been drizzling it over yoghurt with sliced strawberries - divine!
The palm sugar dressing ($10) is a City Market staple, week in and week out. I'm more of a simple balsamic-and-olive-oil drizzle on my salads at home but I'm very tempted to get a bottle - it's apparently very versatile and goes on a lot more than salad!
Like the blood orange syrup, Martin Bosley's lemon syrup ($10) tasted delicious with sparkling water, like a tangy homemade lemonade. Sort of pictured (far right) are his spice blends ($10) - I loved the fragrant, anise-y duck spice.
Majo Aprons stood out among the other stalls with their range of colourful and cute aprons. They were all quite unique - there seems to be something for everyone.
I loved the little details on these kids' aprons - the lacy trim and bright colours screamed 'adorable'.
Shott Beverages have a pretty major presence on the cordial/drink mix scene in New Zealand, supplying to many cafes, and some might wonder what they're doing at a market selling mostly artisan goods. However, as Rachel (from Yellow Brick Road, co-founder of the City Market and my wonderful tour guide) explained to me, they're just as Wellingtonian as the rest of the stalls, with their base in Petone, and it's great for them to be able to interact with customers and get feedback as well. Their lemon, honey and ginger mix is probably the most popular, but I really liked the melon, lime and bitters, which was quite different and refreshing.
One of the cool things about the City Market is that they're licenced to serve alcohol, so there's usually a stand doing wine tastings. One of the regulars is Archer McRae Wine Merchants, who bring different Martinborough wines over to the market almost every Sunday. I had a big chat with Chris Archer from Archer McRae, who told me all about how they try to act as a 'cellar door' for the smaller wineries, getting them out to the Wellington public. That week they were selling Croft 2008 Chardonnay, 2008 Sauvignon Blanc and 2006 Pinot Noir, as well as the 2009 Pinot Gris from Pheasant Plucker. I don't profess to know too much about wine but Chris was more than happy to share some of his wealth of knowledge about the wine as well as the wineries that make it. Archer McRae are also making wine of their own, which will be available this year (if all goes well!).
Kapiti Olives have been another regular at the market, and I've tried their olive oil a number of times. This time they were manning the Market Kitchen, one of my favourite features of the City Market, where local restaurateurs and food producers sell light meals and snacks.
On offer that week were two different types of bruschetta, made with Kapiti Olive Oil. These were big and hearty enough to be open-faced sandwiches, with plenty of good stuff on toasted ciabatta bread.
I didn't try the mushroom and spinach bruschetta ($5) but it looked umptuous, shiny with olive oil and topped with shaved parmesan.
I got the tomato, bocconcini & basil bruschetta ($5) as a sort of lunch (as if I hadn't eaten enough samples already!), and it tasted fresh and delicious - I loved the avocado as an added touch, too. The only trouble I had with this one was that (perhaps because I was overeager and trying to eat too quickly) some of the toppings kept falling off while I was trying to take a bite, so anyone watching me eat would have been either amused or revolted as I frantically kept picking up the pieces and shoving them into my mouth. It was worth the minor embarrassment, though.
Second to last was Harringtons, a butchery and smallgoods producer based in Miramar. They always have a decent selection of meat (including free-range pork) and sausages, bacon and other smallgoods.
Before going home, I stopped to chat again with Rachel at the Yellow Brick Road stall, and learned all about the history of the business - how it began when Rachel returned from the US and began sourcing premium-quality New Zealand fish to supply chefs overseas, and how the focus shifted to supplying local chefs and restaurants as well. The fish is sustainably sourced, long-line caught, and flown in fresh. A lot of the fish comes from Leigh, north of Auckland, but Rachel has contacts with fishermen from other parts of the country as well.
The drawcard for me at this stall is always their Te Matuku Bay oysters ($1.50 ea/$7.50 1/2 dz/$15 dz). Yellow Brick Road is one of the few seafood vendors I know of in Wellington who sell unshucked as well as freshly shucked oysters, and I'm so grateful for it - you can definitely taste the difference (fresh is best!).*** Rachel told me that the unshucked ones are especially popular among the French market-goers, many of whom are used to being able to buy them in the shell at markets back in France. I totally applaud Yellow Brick Road's commitment to freshness and quality - Rachel also told me about about how she tries to emphasise whole fish or skin-on, bone-in fillets, which is not as common in NZ as in other parts of the world.
Perhaps the best thing about Yellow Brick Road is their seafood chowder ($5) - rich, creamy and satisfying. Rachel told me what goes into it but I forgot to write it down (oops!); I can, however, tell you that it included a whole lot of deliciousness. It did sell out, though - I managed to get the last bits from the pot - so get in early if you can!
Worth mentioning but not pictured here (I got home and realised I hadn't taken any photos!) is a stall selling the most beautiful flowers - I believe they're called Enchante Flowers. When I went back last weekend they seemed to be doing a bustling trade for Mother's Day.
The thing that impressed me most about the market is all of the hardworking stallholders who, on what should be their morning off, come in at the crack of dawn (some from as far as the Wairarapa, Kapiti Coast & Horowhenua!!) to talk to shoppers and sample their wares. Everyone seemed to be incredibly passionate about food and their products and their enthusiasm was really infectious - after meeting everyone and seeing what they do I couldn't help but leave with a smile on my face, a belly full of goodness and a shopping bag heavy with goodies. The only downside I can think of is that a lot of the products are not as cheap as their mass-produced counterparts in the supermarkets... but the rewarding feeling of building relationships with the people who make your food kind of makes up for the sting to the wallet (or at least that's how I justify it!). Do check it out!
(and thanks again to Rachel from Yellow Brick Road for taking the time to show me around and introduce me to everyone - it was such a great experience!)
The City Market
The Atrium, Chaffers Dock Building
1 Herd St
City Market on Facebook
View Gusty Gourmet in a larger map
* (among other things, I got a kitten named Frankie who is the coolest cat ever!)
** I probably don't even need to say this but I'm SO excited, mostly about going back late Sunday afternoon for the end-of-show markdowns ;)
*** In what seems like a previous lifetime I worked in a seafood restaurant in the US which served oysters freshly shucked by a dedicated oyster shucker - I'll never forget my first raw oyster I had during my time working there.