Monday, July 6, 2009

Exotically familiar

Dateline: Auckland, New Zealand

That's right, Roving Lemon is on the road and posting from the other side of the Tasman Sea. This is my second visit to New Zealand and, if possible, I've fallen even more in love with it than I did the first time, seven years ago. The topography in and around Auckland--green hills and ocean views everywhere you look--makes me feel right at home, while the dormant volcanoes that dot the landscape provide a bit of spectacular contrast and a visual reminder that you're on the tectonically active Pacific Rim.

Luckily for me, the friends that we're visiting also like nothing better than a bit of good food, so our visit thus far has been a procession of delicious treats. Over the weekend I got the chance to go to not one but two regional farmers' markets. We sampled a variety of specialty products and local produce; I saw and tasted some fruits I'd never heard of or seen before (more on that later); and talked to people from all over, from locals to European visitors to longtime transplants who came from Philadelphia once upon a time.

Among the huge variety of specialty products we had the opportunity to look at, touch, smell and taste, we made sure to pay a visit to the only producer of buffalo-milk mozzarella in the whole of NZ. On top of some surprisingly good winter tomatoes from a few stalls over, with basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper scattered over, it made a fantastic insalata caprese starter for dinner: authentic Italian taste, locally made.


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