Thursday 25 January 2007

Matakana Village Farmers Market

We spent about 7 hours doing our grocery shopping on Saturday, and I think it was our most enjoyable shopping trip ever! ;)

We got up early and headed up to Matakana, arriving at 9am, 1 hour after the Farmers Market had opened. What a fabulous market! Of course, I love ALL farmers markets (at least, I haven't found one I didn't enjoy yet!). The setting is fabulous, with the band, the stream, and the general hub-bub of every enjoying fresh air and friendly gathering of supplies.

Some of our favourite finds:
  • spiced salad mix - wow! This was absolutely fantastic, and a real hit with the guests we served it to. An incredibly varied collection of edible leaves, flowers, pods and veges. We'll definitely be buying this again (sorry, can't think of the name of the business, but will check it this weekend when we return)
  • Simon had a whitebait fritter which was absolutely delectable - just like mum cooks them! Whitebait and egg. Nothing else to take away from the flavour. Excellent!
  • Although we didn't buy any, the vietnamese rolls looked lovely.
  • The coffee was great, and well worth the wait
  • Heron's Flight red pepper jelly - we've bought this before and already knew it was a favourite, but haven't had any for a few years. This is soooo tasty on bagels with a bit of tasty cheese.
We're heading back up this weekend, mainly because we're buying an exposed aggregate garden bench from the other Matakana Market (up at the country park), but thought we'd take the opportunity to stock up again. Seriously, this is the best way to shop (assuming you have the time!)

True enough, that alone didn't take 7 hours. So...
  • 1 hour to Matakana,
  • 1 and a quarter hours at the Village Farmers Market,
  • 15 minutes fighting our way OUT of the market (I thought bus must have arrived, there were throngs of people streaming in at 10am as we were leaving, madness!),
  • 1 hour or so at the other market (where a bought a fantastic shoulder bag (photograph to come...)),
  • next on to Ascension Vineyard to pick up our free bottles of Pintoage. Then we purchased a dozen wine as well. Such an expensive hobby! So that took another hour (or close to it)
  • 1 hour back to Auckland, then we went and spent
  • 30 minutes at the Fish Market, where we bought Blue Cod and Orange Roughy for lunch, Tuna for dinner and Scallops for another meal during the week, and also bought veges and cheese from the deli, oh yeah, and we bought organic venison and beef. All delectable. :)
Hmm, that's only 5.5 hours. I'm sure we left home at 8am and returned at 2pm. Hmm, which would be 6 hours, not 7. Ah! I know, we got up at 7am! So I was counting that as well - it really does hurt getting up that early on a Saturday! (Please excuse the ramblings of the mad lady).

Thursday 4 January 2007

briefly - Melbourne! (and surrounds)

Again - we haven't fallen off the face of the planet! Just a little bit out of reach of cyber space.

We're currently in Melbourne, and have been in Victoria for the last week. And having a fabulous time! And yes, we have some fabulous restaurants to blog, including:

Portofino on Bank - Port Fairy (OMG what a divine meal!!!)
Knife Fork Bottle & Cork - Melbourne
Queen Victoria Markets - Melbourne
Essense - Docklands, Melbourne
Spaghetteta - Lygon St. Melbourne
Colonial Tramcar Restaurant - Melbourne (going there tonight)
Sumo Salad - a franchise, but brilliant concept!
Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man - Melbourne
Ooh - nearly forgot - Beechworth Bakery (!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!) - Healesville
Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary - Healesville

Some of them will probably only get a couple of lines mention, and not right now - still too much to see and do!

We were at the QV Markets this morning - what a splendid place! We made a point of getting up early (really early) and were there before 7:30am. They're predicting 34 Degrees today, so I'm planning on spending 11-3 out of the sun if at all possible. I'm amazed that the markets have been there for 128 years! That's incredible! And honestly, the quality and variety of products available is just fantastic - I don't know why anyone living in Melbourne would ever visit a traditional supermarket for their food shopping! Very cool.

The other thing that has been incredibly conspicuous (and pleasantly so) is how friendly everyone is. And I'm not just talking about the hotel and restaurant staff who are paid to be nice (not that that's ever a guarantee they will be), but even people on the street. Everyone has time to say hi, they offer help if you look like you need it, everyone has a warm smile and a genuinely friendly hello. Amazing - it's been really really nice.

Well, time is ticking on my internet access so time to sign off for now. Will be back soon with updates on the fabulous things we've seen, done and eaten and drunk.