Tag Archives: Waitemata

‘Nduja and other gastronomic delights

‘Nduja!

It’s the last thing I’d ever have expected to find at Hobsonville Point Farmers Market, but as the free taster – I’m told by the stallholder that it’s a sort of chorizo – melts in my mouth I recognize it instantly, as much by its texture as by its flavour. A specialty of southern Italy’s Calabria region, ‘nduja is finely ground pork meat and fat turned bright orange and fiery by the addition of ground chili pepper and spices. Unlike salami which can be thinly sliced, ‘nduja (pronounced “in-do-ya”) is soft and spreadable – delicious on a cracker or stirred into a pasta sauce or stew. And being so hot, a little goes a very long way.

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‘nduja New Zealand style from Farm Gate Products http://www.the farmgate.co.nz

As well as ‘nduja, Farm Gate Produce make delicious sausages from free-range pork and beef, and stock great manuka-smoked bacon too. They are one of the many friendly stalls at Hobsonville Point Farmers Market and it’s inspiring to see so much locally produced and really delicious food: cheeses, breads, sweets (Magnolia Kitchen’s rocky road and edible marshmallow clouds are a real treat – http://www.magnoliakitchen.co.nz) , honey (loved Earthbound Honey’s manuka honey – http://www.earthboundhoney.co.nz), jams, relishes and sauces, olive oil, snack foods and of course home grown seasonal fruit and vegetables.

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NZ-made mozzarella and scamorza and pizza from a portable wood-fired oven

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eggplants, cheeses, bagels, olive oil, fresh bread – the mouth waters constantly

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Salash Delicatessen is a family business with Serbian origins. Their sausages and salami range from mild to hell hot – my favourite. http://www.salash.co.nz

Every Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 1pm Hobsonville Point Farmers Market takes place in and around a giant ex-airbase hangar, breathing new life into a building that was decommissioned when the New Zealand Air Force moved away from its helicopter and seaplane base there in 2002.

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18-year-old Basil keeps an eye the market activities.

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Hobsonville Point, in Auckland’s west and on the innermost reaches of the Waitemata Harbour, is one of the city’s newest suburbs. The development’s well-chosen slogan is “Moments away, a world apart”. During the week this is entirely true: it’s a 25-minute ferry ride between downtown central Auckland and the Point’s new all-tides wharf.

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Taking the ferry up the Harbour, under the Harbour Bridge, past Chelsea Sugar Refinery, to step off the wharf where the market is held.

By car or bus I imagine it’s rather more than just moments away, but it certainly is worlds apart – the Air Force buildings (hangars, barracks, married officers’ houses and the Base Commander’s house) and open spaces remain as part of the suburb’s unique identity, making it completely different to any other emerging residential area in Auckland. Panels along the covered wharf recount the area’s history and Virginia King’s Hinaki eel trap sculpture on the wharf is one of several that make up the urban décor.

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This giant stainless steel dog by Steve Woodward stands in front of the soon-to-be-renovated barracks. Below one of the fine houses which were built for the married Air Force officers.

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Virginia King’s Hinakieel trap extends through a hole in the wharf, down towardsthe sea. It is encircled by Fiona Farrell’s poem Eel.

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The Radar Station has become a children’s activity centre, complete with aircraft-inspired wall paper.

For now the ferry service doesn’t run at the weekends but when the Farmers Market organisers put on a special event, such as last weekend’s “Doggy Day Out”, a charter ferry service runs for a very reasonable NZ$10 return, making a trip to Hobsonville Point and its market well worthwhile. And as with all great food markets it really pays to go early and buy early – stocks of specialist goodies do run out towards closing time.

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Coromandel highlights

The ‘360° Discovery’ ferry to Coromandel, a catamaran, clips purposefully down Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour on a dead calm sea. Brief stops at Waiheke Island’s Orapiu wharf and at Rotoroa Island are soon, like mainland Auckland, far behind. Ahead, as the cat crosses the Firth of Thames, rise the mountains of the Coromandel Peninsula. To the south, where the mountains fade into the horizon, there is only a faint, hazy hint of the Hauraki Plains. Gannets dive for fish and little blue penguins frolic endearingly. Islands – lush and large and small and craggy – are strung along the Coromandel coast, so the township only comes into view as the ferry approaches Hannaford’s Wharf, inside the island haven.

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Just two and an half very pleasant hours after leaving Auckland we arrive in Coromandel at lunchtime. The town was named after HMS Coromandel – in turn named after eastern India’s Coromandel Coast. The ship visited the area in 1820 to take on kauri timber for masts. Until then, the village was known by its Maori name, Kapanga.

Coromandel is the birthplace of New Zealand’s gold mining era. Charles Ring discovered gold in October 1852 and although he managed to keep his find secret for a while, Coromandel was soon inundated with prospectors, traders … everyone and everything needed in a bustling gold mining town with a population of around 10,000. Sadly the deforestation which had begun with the milling of the ancient kauri forests for masts and ship building accelerated during the mining days and again when forested lands were cleared for farming.  

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Although there are fewer than 2,000 inhabitants today, many of the buildings of the mid-late 1800s remain, making Coromandel both fascinating and appealing. Green-lipped mussel farming and tourism have both boosted the town’s economy in recent years. And very gradually, through planting programmes and natural second growth, the forest is regenerating.  A great ways to see how the native forest is growing over hillsides that were completely bare in the early 1900s is to take the narrow gauge (38cm) Driving Creek Railway (DCR) ride. Artist, engineer and conservationist, Barry Brickell began building the railway over 35 years ago as a way to get clay out of the hills for his pottery. At the same time he started replanting native New Zealand trees – to date 37,000 trees have been planted by Barry and his helpers. The railway line is now a very popular tourist attraction – it wends its way  for 3 kilometres through the bush and tunnels, over bridges (including a double-deck one) and zig-zagging line to the Eyefull Tower – a viewing platform surrounded by forest and with magnificent views in all directions.

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Coromandel Highlights – part 2 coming soon