I can’t go to Christchurch without making a pilgrimage to the cheese stalls at the Christchurch Farmers Market at Riccarton, even when it’s cold and I’m sick.
So like a plague-riddled mendicant I hauled my sorry self out of bed, braced myself for Christchurch’s coldest day and set off to the market in Deans Bush.
If you haven’t been to this farmers market it’s almost too picturesque. The big Deans house on one side, the tree-lined, duck-swimming Avon River on the other. In between neat lines of stalls displaying the best of Canterbury’s ample bounty.
Pre-earthquakes, a critical North Islander may’ve sniffed at its faux-Englishness. Was it just too twee, too white, too twinset and pearls for us up North?
Now post-earthquake it is a vibrant, friendly reminder of the city’s plucky spirit. Still going strong midwinter, warmly-dressed Cantabrian’s eat posh porridge, artisan bread, and Stewart Island pies and salmon. There are cakes stalls, fruit and vege, hot food and best of all cheese stalls.
First up I visited Canterbury Cheesemongers in their familiar van with fridge outback serving up a fine mix of Kiwi and European cheese with a definite English theme.
Further down the row is a new kid on the block Mount Grey Cheese from Rangiora where Elizabeth French has been making cheese for several years. Ross told me they’d done OK at Amberly so were giving the market at Riccarton a go.
I loved their Camembert – a riot of moulds on the outside, bursting with earthy flavors and a lick your lips creamy centre.
But most of all I loved their Mrs. Grey, their version of a Wendlesdale with big bursts of lemony yoghurt, this is a gobble-up New York cheese cake of a cheese.
It went best with the wee dram of whiskey I’d poured to warm myself up.
As we rounded home we spied Emilio’s cheese, a little stall of North Italian-style cheese locally-made by Emilio Festa.
What a perfect end with their Alpeggio, similar to a Taleggio, this washed-rind cheese is gooey and schmeary. Like a mid-40s siren she is tangy, languorous, with that slight bite so hot in a well matured cheese. It didn’t make it to the bread, I just scooped it straight off the knife, licking it from my fingers. Very Nigella.
A backpack full of cheese and hot sausage rolls in hand Rog and I happily headed back home to the fire. The number one thing on my to-do list safely ticked off, I could start looking forward to ticking off number two, dinner sampling their cheese trolley at Saggio di Vino later night.