I try to get to the Christchurch Farmer’s Market most weekends, and it’s always one of the things I most enjoy taking any visitors to Christchurch to when I play tour guide. It’s a bit of a ritual for my Saturdays to drag myself out of bed when the sun is barely hot yet, pull on the clothes closest to me and head out to Riccarton. As you can possibly tell from below… though I may appear fully dressed and physically awake: it’s mostly a combination of luck and semi-coherant mumbling that gets me out of the house fully decent in the mornings.
I always get my breakfast and usually a coffee there – whether that breakfast comes in the form of fresh juice, pancakes, a intensely decadent hot chocolate… or… more usually just from nibbling at free samples, depends on the week. This weekend I was lucky enough to catch the Autumn Food Festival, which meant that the market was even more packed than usual and full of cooking demonstrations, candy apples and a whole crop of new stalls.
My favourite new addition was Gretchen’s Bakery. Among other things, she was selling the most delicious array of scones my eyes have ever set upon. While I eventually settled on a sundried tomato and feta and a cinnamon chip; I know I’d have been equally satisfied with the pumpkin pie, tripple chocolate, maple walnut or blueberry flavours. These scones were a revelation: both incredibly decadent and strong on flavour (who knew that cinnamon chips were a thing? Where can I get a hundred bags or them to stuff in my mouth?), but also light enough that you don’t hate yourself afterwards. And it must be said that Gretchen herself is incredibly lovely, she told me she started cooking when she moved to New Zealand and realised you couldn’t buy pumpkin pie in a can, so she just learnt to make them herself. I was totally won over by her and her baking, definitely a new favourite.
Equally exciting was the long awaited return of Posh Porridge! In the summer months, Posh Porridge transforms into Posh Pancakes, and while I’m sure that their pancakes would be delicious, it’s the creamy bite of the slow cooked, steel cut oats that I crave.
Look at that! The combination of fresh banana, toasted almonds and toffee sauce is completely mind-blowing. It might seem like they would be too rich and overwhelm the porridge, but the girls seem to know exactly how much of to give you so you’ll get a mouthfull of flavour in each bite but not get a sugar headache. The only bad thing about Posh Porridge is that it tends to sell out fast, the Farmers Market opens at nine and last weekend they were sold out by eleven. For the record, the porridge doesn’t come drowning in soy milk as the picture might lead you to believe – that’s just my personal preference.
You can take your pick of fresh vegetable stands. I don’t have one particular favourite stand, I tend to pick and choose from what looks good to me each week. But looking at those purple cauliflowers and bright orange carrots I can’t help thinking about roasted cauliflowers and carrots with honey and dukkah rub… I have a feeling I know what I’ll be getting next weekend. It’s all really reasonably priced as well, so poor students have no excuse. when a butternut squash costs 50 cents, you are almost obligated to buy it. And as for the abundance of late season berries? Forget about it. I found myself walking away with a punnet of raspberries before I’d even really realised what I was doing. Sweet, juicy and amazing.
Nikau Breads are far and away the most delicious bread at the market. I have been known to fight people for the last slice of honey and flaxseed bread, and their brioche’s are perfect for raspberry and lemon brioche pudding.
Sugar Baby Cakery has been around for awhile now, but I’ve only recently noticed how just plain cute their baking is. I also love that they move away from standards such as vanilla and chocolate and instead make flavours like “Tutti Frutti.” As well as cupcakes they’re your ladies for cake pops, spice biscuits and cakes-in-jars, and as if keeping me fantasising about buttercream wasn’t enough they also cater parties, weddings and are opening a shop later this year. If you’re looking for fun, beautiful baking – definitely go to Sugar Baby.
As part of the Autumn Food Festival Mr Johnny Schwass himself was in attendance with his Gorilla Go Go – Charcoal Relief Unit, serving up what was agreed were the best charcoal lamb and rocket tacos in the business. A little bit of a Christchurch legend, Johnny owns Gorilla, among other projects, which is one of my favourite restaurants in town. It’s menu is always changing, I don’t think I’ve ever been there yet and seen the menu in exactly the same incarnation as it was the last time. However staples such as the Dripping Potatoes, Mushroom Arancini balls and anything from their charcoal menu are always worth ordering. And by worth ordering – I mean that those potatoes will change your life. If it were possible, I would make those potatoes my wife.