Christmas is a time to get together with family and friends and always comes with lots of stress.
Whether it is just saving enough to be able to have wonderful food to share, preparing a meal for lots of people or the stresses of getting together with people you don’t see very often.
But Christmas is now behind us for another year, so it is time to kick back, relax and enjoy some sunshine.
I say sunshine, but we all know the weather at this time of year can be rather unpredictable, so just make sure you enjoy the edible delights the region has to offer, and there are plenty.
In the last 12 months I have been lucky enough to meet some very talented people making stunning products in this region and to be able to tell their stories.
So I thought I would take a little look back at some of those stories and hopefully give you some ideas about what to eat during the next few days of your holiday in the region.
Two places you must visit are the Nelson Market held every Saturday in the Montgomery carpark and the Nelson Farmers Market held every Wednesday (except tomorrow) in Bridge St.
These markets are where you will find some of my favourite artisan producers selling their wares alongside those who have grown from small market stall-holders to sellers of products to New Zealand and the world.
Emma Heke produces a range of beautiful herbal teas under the Heke Homemade Herbals brand.
We always have a range of these in our office and at home. At this time of the year we love to brew some tea, let it chill in the fridge and then serve it over ice for a delightfully refreshing summer drink.
Emma Heke makes a range of herbal teas under her Heke Homemade Herbals brand and is a perfect addition to any summer afternoon.
Don’t tell anyone but you can add a little vodka or gin to make a great summer cocktail. You can also order her teas on-line from the Heke Homemade Herbals Facebook page.
Another producer whose only retail outlet is at the Saturday market is Craft French Pate. Benoit Gourgues and his partner Anne Karschunke make some of the finest pâtés, chicken liver parfait and rillettes you will find anywhere in New Zealand and they are perfect for taking on picnics or enjoying with a glass of bubbles.
One business that has evolved over the years but still turns up at the market each week is The Smokehouse. The business started life as Nature Smoke and has had a number of owners over the years.
I have watched each new owner add fresh enthusiasm and ideas to grow the business. The current owner, Peter Pattullo, bought the business in 2014, and has kept the expansion going.
“We still have a stall at the Nelson Market on Saturdays, it’s a really important way for us to stay in touch with regulars,” he said.”They get to engage with us and we notice locals bringing people from out of town to our stall.
It seems like locals are proud to have us as part of the Nelson artisan producer story.”
So make sure you take your visitors to see them at the market, their smoked fish products are stunningly good.
At the Nelson Farmers Market you will find berries fresh from growers gardens, vegetarian meat products, fresh produce, organic produce and so many other locally produced treats.
The region is also home to world-class cheese makers and I have been lucky enough to meet some of them in the last 12 months. Companies like Thorvald who make sheep and A2 cow’s milk cheeses, Kranky Goat, Kaikoura Cheese and Kervella Cheese from Golden Bay all make beautiful products the region is proud to have here.
Of course we all need treats at this time of the year and one of the very best treats is chocolate.
There is only one name to remember when you want hand crafted Nelson chocolate – Hogarth’s Craft Chocolate.
This year they beat out the big players to win the Best Chocolate at the New Zealand Chocolate Awards and picked up a number of international awards too. Hogarth’s make a range of beautifully flavoured treats alongside their single origin chocolates.
You will find these little bars of deliciousness in most supermarkets and at the Saturday market too.
Hogarth chocolate is one of life’s greatest treats and is so good it even made it into a goodie basket for Queen Elizabeth.
While we are talking about treats in the summer, of course we have to talk about frozen treats. Tasman Bay Food Group’s Juicies range are a popular natural frozen treat for people all around New Zealand and internationally, but it is a new player in the frozen treat market that is really making waves in the region.
Appleby Farms Ice Cream use only A2 milk to make their creamy delights.
Launched just 12 months ago, Appleby Farms Ice Cream is taking the premium ice cream market by storm. If you are sensitive to normal cow’s milk the A2 milk has a different protein making it suitable for you too.
If it is a caffeine hit you want then hunt out one of the region’s many craft coffee roasters. From the market leading Pomeroy’s and Sublime Coffee to the tiny but perfectly formed Kush Coffee in Church St or Society Coffee in Salisbury Road that is owned by one of the world’s best barista’s, Guy McCracken and his chef and fellow director, Louise Stack.
Many local restaurants and cafes serve coffee crafted by these producers and you won’t be disappointed when you buy some.
And I haven’t mentioned the region’s drink producers yet. Everything from fresh juice to soft drinks, cider and internationally awarded wines and beers are hand crafted right here in the Nelson Tasman region.
My next column is going to be about some of these producers as well as some of the best places to dine in the region, but in the meantime have a wonderful time in our beautiful region this summer and what ever you do, make sure you stay safe in the outdoors and when you are on the roads.
Quite simply, just don’t drink and drive (or drink and ride a bike for that matter), we don’t want to add your name to the awful road toll this year.