If you want to get a bird's eye view of the local produce, the farmers' market is where it's at. It's a veritable trove of the season's best and freshest, all of the "heirloom", "farmstead", and "free-range" buzzwords.
I love farmers markets. It's about the only thing I'd wake up early for, save for dolphin swimming. I love strolling through the open-air setup, the sampling of vendor offerings, the small town feel, the local sense of community, the convivial celebratory vibe, the grazing through seasonal cuisine. It's through farmers' markets that I get inspired to cook. Which may explain the 12 bottles of artisanal olive oil, a collection of specialty marmalades, and a cache of handcrafted spice mixes in my pantry. All organic and sustainable, of course.
We spent 4 days at Marlborough, the premier wine-growing region of New Zealand, and our first stop was the Marlborough Farmers Market at Blenheim, the main townstead in Marlborough.
Held every Sunday morning, it's best to arrive with an empty tummy, as the food trucks here serve up a mean breakfast.
Get the Bubble & Squeak ($12) with poached eggs, chorizo sausage and bacon for a hearty start to the day. You'll need the carbs to line your stomach for wine tasting through the valley.
from the Gourmet Deli Catering food truck
And the most awesome Ham & Cheese Croquettes ($6) with smoky bacon mayo, ever. Be sure to get your own, they're so good I didn't want to share with the Hubs.
from the Feast Merchants .
Our favourite stalls include Lusatori, a prominent olive oil producer in Marlborough. They retail at many shops, but we thought we'd skip visiting its farm and just get a bottle at the market.
We've got to be conservative with our olive oils, as this small 250ml bottle of Single Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil (NZ$15) was the 11th one in our pantry
Nutt Ranch Products, which owns a hazelnut orchard, and produces hazelnut butters, oils, and nuts, whole or ground.
We bought a packet of Hazelnut Dukkah (NZ$6 for 100gm), which lends a sweet-ish twist to the traditional spice-laden dukkah mixes.
Garden Bees, which produces honey, raw, organic, and all-natural without any additives.
We scored ourselves jar of Lavender Honey (NZ$6) that was perfectly balanced.
A Taste of Yesteryears is reminiscent of the good ol' days, where jams and marmalades are made with love and dosed with a homey flavour.
We got the Summer Marmalade (NZ$8), a sunshiney burst of lemons and apricots that was bright and fruity.
Mississippi Herbs, which hawks artisanal bread and homemade herb dressings.
From whom we got a bottle of Lemon & Lime Herb Dressing (NZ$5), blended with Marlborough olive oil and honey.
And Traditional Country Preserves, which makes its own fudges and fruit sauces, perfect for drizzling over ice-cream and desserts.
Where we got a bottle of Blackcurrant & Raspberry Sauce (NZ$8) that's perfect for finishing an ice-cream sundae.
The market bustling with the sounds of a live band, local of course, rocking it out.
The market is held on the grounds of a livestock showground and auction, which explains the livestock pens on the left.
Park along Alabama Road outside.
Marlborough Farmers Market
Sundays from 9am to 12noon