Weekend Markets on The Shore

I love shopping at local markets, especially when they’re outside, and the weather’s good. The opportunity to purchase really fresh food that’s been harvested, caught or baked just a few hours earlier is something I find irresistable. The chance to eyeball the stallholder and maybe get to know them a bit because they’re there regularly engenders a sense of community we often struggle to find in the rush of city life.

Markets are a great place for buskers

Albany Farmers’ Market

This is one of only a few fair dinkum Farmers’ Markets on the North Shore. What this term means, loosely, is a market in which the majority of the produce is produced or grown within a defined local area. The raw product for manufactured goods should be locally produced or grown, where possible, but exceptions can be made if adding value. For more information, go to the official website for Farmers’ Markets in NZ.

Taking place on the first and third Saturday of the month, from 8am to 1pm in the King George Coronation Hall (cnr Library Lane & albany Highway), this is a small, friendly and very much local market. Being indoors, it is not affected by inclement weather and is limited in size. There is a fresh produce stallholder who prefers to set up shop just outside the front door, however.

In general, and possibly surprisingly (since it is a Farmers Market), there is very little in the way of fresh fruit and vegetables available. I would describe the products as artisanal, with a major focus on baked goods. Ali, who originates from Casablana , sells his wife’s home-made Moroccan-style biscuits (many of these are gluten free, containing ground nuts rather than wheat flour) – quite delicious.

Sweet Surrender offers beautifully crafted small cakes and slices – they look and taste divine, and one of the neighbouring stallholders insisted I try the gluten and dairy-free chocolate brownie. I wasn’t sorry he talked me into it! His stall sells free range, German style pork sausages (preservative free) manufactured by a small company called Delighthouse. They come in 3 styles – mild, medium and hot.

Pies seem to be very popular at this market, and they are many and varied. I’m tempted to came back especially to try the Original Scottish Pies. I did purchase a bag of organic vanilla beans (imported from Tahiti – NZ isn’t warm enough to grow them), and they are fresh, juicy and aromatic. The NZ Cheese Man has a stall with a good selection of NZ cheeses, including the delicious range from Evansdale (produced at the old Cherry Farm in North Otago). Stuffed olives seem to be present at every market on the Shore, but this stall is complemented by fresh, natural lemonade – a nice, old fashioned treat. Bagels from Bagel Love are in plentiful supply, with a good range of flavours. Last but not least, La Maison du Chocolat makes a beautiful and moreish display of handmade chocolate treats.

Apart from all the delicious types of food, the market has a stall selling Tinopai Oils – body oils containing a variety of essential oils such as rosemary, evening primrose and lavendar, for relaxation, health and healing. Another stallholder, Claire Green, is a passionate “researcher” who promotes S.A.F.E products such as organic whole green foods (concentrated powders derived from green vegetables and seaweed), natural skincare and herbal extracts. I came away from a long chat with her about the benefits of these supplements, with a stack of interesting articles to read. Feel At Home is a Whangaparaoa based business which manufactures beautiful natural soaps, massage oils, healing balms and natural bristle brushes which promote health and well-being.
I can recommend Albany Farmers Market as place to relax, talk to the locals and sample some delicious foods and wholesome natural products. No-one seems to be in any sort of hurry, but make sure you bring cash as there is only one, difficult-to-find ATM in Albany. The Village seems to have been abandoned by the banks.

Albany Farmers Market
Albany Hall, corner Albany Highway and Albany Expressway, 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month 8am – 1pm
margo.t@xtra.co.nz

Birkenhead Artisan Market
Held on the first and third Saturday of the month, from 8:30am to 1:00pm at 110 Hinemoa Street. This is a lovely, relatively small market with a real community feel. People stand around talking to friends and neighbours and no-one seems to be in any kind of hurry. Some stallholders have an eftpos facility, but it pays to take cash as the local dairy owner runs out of funds quite quickly. Many of the stallholders actually live in the Birkenhead area and stalls range from handmade trinkets to French delicacies. Some of the local retired ladies have handknits for babies; another local collects honey from bees that forage in and around Birkenhead; Christy Martin (cmmartin@gmail.com) has a keen interest in herbal tinctures and creams which she sells at a very reasonable price. Wonderful cakes from

Delicious cakes and goodies from Let Them Eat Cake

Let Them Eat Cake are a delight for the senses, closely followed by fare from La Maison du Chocolat, a chocolatier based in the Birkenhead area. Local grocer Don from Ashore Fine Foods in Highbury has a stall selling fresh bread and assorted fine foods. Divinity olive oil offers award winning oils for sale, and there’s great organic coffee from Good Morning Coffee Traders (they also use organic milk). Moral Fibre is a business which makes cute kids’ clothing from handspun, vegetable dye Indian cotton. Also for the littlies and their parents, Natural birthing and parenting goods such as baby carriers and birthing pools are available from Aquabub. There are also bright scarves from Guatemala, handblown glass objects and Middle Eastern morsels, handmade bags, cards, books and bookmarks. There’s a limited amount of fresh produce available – spray-free plums, avocadoes and berries from the Waikato the day I was there. This is a bright, friendly market where you relax and take your time about shopping. Or you can just look and taste and touch if you want to. More information at www.birkenheadartisanmarket.com (website under construction).

Locals spend a leisurely morning at the Birkenhead Market

Mairangi Bay Farmers Market

Having had its first market day on 29 May 2010, this is the North Shore’s newest weekend market and one of only 3 bonafide Farmers’ Markets on the Shore. Sponsored by Harcourts, Bayleys and Barfoot & Thompson Mairangi Bay, this is a great initiative for the area and it’s drawing a lot of interest from locals. It’s small and relaxed, mainly about food, and there are some delicious and delightful products to be had.

I bought a parsley plant from Clevedon Herbs and Produce - they run a blog with recipes and other interesting foodie stuff, and they sell deliciously fresh lettuce greens and herbs, ready to eat salad mixes and all manner of vegetables (subject to the season). Based in Clevedon, Phil and Jenny Tregidga have been growing their produce hydroponically since 1984. Earlier this year they shifted the focus of their business from supplying supermarkets to being vendors at a number of Auckland markets.

Dinner for us, tonight, will be based around a piece of fresh salmon from the Salmon Man. It comes from the prisitine, clear waters of Stewart Island, shipped directly to the salmon man, who then smokes it, adding a variety of flavours such as dill, lemon, garlic & herbs. Or you can buy gravlax, gremolata and plain smoked. The website is worth a look – there’s plenty of salmon and seafood recipes, cooking tips and nutritional facts. If you’re concerned about your intake of omega 3 oils, you should be eating salmon once a week – no need to take pills!

Devon Olives is a boutique olive oil producer based in Mangonui, Northland although the owners, David and Heather Fenney, live in Devonport. They sell Frantoio, J5, Leccino and Koroneiki oils, and they’ve just released some of their 2010 oil including some lemon and lime infused oils. It’s nice and mild, with none of that sharp acidity you get in some olive oils. Heather had samples of a fruity cake she had made using their oil – it was really moist and delicious – she’ll be providing the recipe next week. You can contact them at devonolives@gmail.com or go straight to their website.

Cupcakes are all the rage at the moment and no Farmers’ Market would be complete without at least one stall of these pretty offerings. Cupcakes is a business making beautiful, personalised cupcakes for special occasions. Ingredients include free range eggs, fair trade cocoa and real fruit. Contact Andrea on 027 618 1996.

Paul’s Chili’s sells dried chillies and a range of chilli sauces, from “sweet” to “awesome”. The stall also sells Kaitaia Fire chilli sauces. Paul has recipes, chilli facts and news on his Facebook page and twitter (Paul’s Chili’s) but I couldn’t find him on either site.

Get Fudged is run by Carol Hughes (027 2GT FDGD). She makes and supplies a delicious range of fudges for market days, party bags, girls’ nights, work treats and special occasions.

Hearts Content (415 9752) is a business supplying an wide range of chutneys, pickles, jams and jellies. There’s all the old-fashioned favourites  like quince paste, and tamarillo chutney, and some divine combinations such as Plum & Cointreau Jam, Lemon & Passionfruit Honey. The Tomato Kasundi (spicy tomato based Indian sauce) is full of flavour and not too fierce.

Earthbound Honey products are sold from a stall run by a couple of foodies (Lynley and Sandra – 021 252 8380). They use honey as a featured ingredient in their  toasted muesli, nougat, chocolate ganache cake and slices. They also sell Earthbound honey vinegar, single variety honey (pohutukawa, manuka and bush honey). The stall holders are food stylists and caterers who look like they know what they’re doing.

A couple of hyper local vendors have stalls at this market – Fayre and Firkin is a traditional English style Mairangi Bay restaurant and bar. Their stall features gluten free goodies including biscotti, mussel fritters and whitebait fritters. Rhythm Cafe is also based in the Mairangi Village and supplies coffee-to-go from their cart.

The coffee is good to sip on while munching a pastry from Blackwood Gourmet Bread Company, a local artisan bakery, only available at Auckland markets. They have a good range of tasty baked products including dark rye &  Swiss grain breads, brioche loaf, bagels and choc brownies.

Display of Nuttz flavoured nuts

You can buy traditional, dry-cured bacon (no preservatives, no added water, no sow crates), and other pork and beef products from P & E Bacon. If you’d rather have nuts, try the many flavoured varieties from Nuttz – this is a high quality product, beautifully presented – would make a nice gift. Plenty of samples to try – Chai Almond, Honey Cashew, Lemon Myrtle and Black Pepper Macadamia and more…. yummy!

Top Shelf olives are big and fat and come with a variety of stuffings (cheese, garlic, anchovies and more).

Takapuna Market
Originally called the Takapuna Flea Market, this regular Sunday morning market had humble beginnings but is now positively thriving. Covering the whole of the municipal carpark in Anzac Street, it kicks off at 6am. There’s plenty of parking around Takapuna, but you have to be canny to get a free park. If you’re a serious shopper, you should arrive well before 9am for the pick of the day’s fresh produce and flowers. On the other hand, if you’re more interested in bargain hunting, it can pay to whizz around nearer to the midday closing time when many stallholders will do some great deals simply because they don’t want to take anything home with them.

Markets are a great place to buy fresh fruit and veges

As well as a huge selection of well-priced fresh fruit and vegetables, the Takapuna market is a popular spot for browsing the second hand goods, from tools to trinkets. Artisan products such as bread, olive oil, handmade soaps, cheeses and sausage are in abundance here, as well as some delightful cakes, local and ethnic foods (the mussel fritters are in huge demand), honey and fresh fish. You’ll also find a number of art and craft stalls. One of my favourites is the ponga logs carved with beautiful Maori motifs.

One of the characters at the Takapuna Market

Browns Bay Flea Market
Anzac Road carpark, every Sunday 8am – 12pm

This regular Sunday morning market is a warm and friendly local event which really lives up to its “Flea Market” title. It has an abundance of second hand stalls selling clothing and shoes, tools, fine china, crystal and glassware, books, vinyl records, and general junk. Spread over the whole of the Anzac Road carpark, it is roughly the same size as the Takapuna market but more spread out and without the crowds. This is a market where you take your time, have a good browse and maybe reminisce a bit. I found quite a few bits and pieces to tempt me – the 50 year old sailor doll just like the one I had when I was just a wee thing, which had unfortunately lost its hat.  I’m reliably informed by the stallholder that the same doll, complete with hat, would fetch at least $100 in an antique shop! Then there was the old wooden frame and corrugated glass washing board just like the one my mother used to use – a bargain at just $20. And the beautifully crafted old scythe that I imagine myself using sometime in my leisurely semi-retirement. Alas, it would sit unused and rusting in the interim, so I had to pass it by. I didn’t walk away from the delicate little retro cocktail glasses that will be perfect for a dry martini or a splash of champagne. The set of 4 glasses was a snip at just $5 so I simply couldn’t resist. The lime and lemon marmalade from Nestlebrae Exotics – handmade by the grower from her sprayfree, South Kaipara orchard, was also destined to come home with me. A couple of stalls feature beautiful handknits – for babies and puppies; there’s a craftsman selling his rustic outdoor furniture; a Northland bushman with a big pile of kauri gum that you could polish up or carve as you please. Then there’s the ubiquitous custom jewellery, potted plants, coffee carts, stuffed olives, mussel fritters and fruit and vege stalls. A couple of vendors just have big bags of new season fruit – I like buying my produce from them as they actually grow their wares.

Beach Haven Market

Beach Haven Hall, 3rd Saturday of the month. Community market; stalls available for white elephant, jewellery, plants, food and lifestyle products. (Yet to be reviewed)