Christmas Day is just around the corner and I’m not sure what has happened to 2022, but for me it seems to have evaporated. However, when you think back about the changes in the last 12 months the biggest impact on families has been the unrelenting price increases in absolutely everything, especially food.
Hopefully as new season produce becomes more readily available prices for some nice-to-have items will drop a bit so we can all treat ourselves this Christmas, maybe to help draw a line under what has been a difficult 2022.
Now is the time to prepare for the silly season by stocking up on a few things each week rather than relying on one very expensive shop the day before Christmas, and I think you should start by thinking about locally produced products that will make your Christmas and New Year celebrations just a little bit special.
Of course you can always buy things like Proper Crisps range of crisps, crackers and tortilla chips all year round, as you can with Pic’s Peanut Butter and jams, Moutere Strawberries and the jams they make, Chia Sisters range of drinks, Mad Melon juices, Pete’s Natural range of soft drinks, herbal teas crafted by Heke Homemade Herbals and of course cheeses, Craft French Pate, hand crafted sausages and Skipper’s Choice sauces.
But now is the time to put a few of these locally made products in your shopping trolley, not only to spread the cost to suit your budget but to support local businesses, businesses that need our support as they too struggle with increasing prices while trying to make sure their products remain affordable.
There are plenty of retailers selling local products but for me The Nelson Farmers Market, Nelson Market on Saturdays and the various markets around the region are the perfect place to talk with producers to find out about the effort they put into growing and making a wide range of things for you and me to enjoy. These producers almost always have samples for you to try before you buy to make sure you make great choices.
185 in Hope will be a very busy place in the week before Christmas but heading out there to get fresh summer berries and vegetables is a must-do for many Nelsonians, for us we always pick up a huge basil plant so we have plenty on hand to add to a tomato salad or to turn into freshly made pesto.
If you want some specialty advice then drop in to Prego where you will find a range of wonderful Nelson made cheeses and European Christmas treats as well as things like pasta and their house-made spicy pork and fennel sausages for the barbeque. Another stop for specialty advice is The Junction where you will find one of this country’s finest cheese selections, they were recently names as one of the top 10 cheese shops in New Zealand. They also have a cheese master on hand to give you great advice.
If you need to stock up on some treats to enjoy over the summer the Rustic Cuisine on Rutherford St has some classic French foods for you to choose from. Made on the premises by Chef Greg Auphin and frozen for you to finish cooking at home, are things like their delicious edam cheese galettes, beef bolognese, croissants and lots of other treats including their irresistible lemon meringue tarts (large or small). These are perfect to have on hand for days you don’t want to make dinner.
When it comes to gift giving why not make something, homemade relishes, chutneys, jams and even chocolate treats are always appreciated by the recipient. If you want some inspiration drop in to one of my favourite book shops, Volume, and pick up a cook book. You may even find one to give as a gift for the foodie in your life.
Back to local products, we are incredibly lucky to have talented people in this region who make a wide range of world-class products. Some of my favourites are the sausages from The Sausage Press, Doris and Heck’s but when it comes to cheese then you simply can’t go past Thorvald Sheep cheeses, Little River A2 Milk cheeses or Kervella Cheeses from Golden Bay, these are all widely available and they also appear at markets around the region.
For treats to make your Christmas special make sure you buy some local chocolates; Hogarth’s have a range of award winning chocolate bars that they make starting with raw beans that they roast and process into hand-crafted deliciousness. Aroha Chocolates and Chocoloco are also an award winning local chocolate makers who pour their love and passion for what they do into filled chocolate treats.
When it comes to drinks Nelson producers have something for you. From the award winning Pete’s Natural who reinforced Tasman Nelson as one of New Zealand’s top artisan regions by scooping four medals at the 2022 NZ Artisan Awards 2022
Pete’s Natural Kola and Raspberry Kola both took out Gold, plus Pete’s Lemon Manuka Switchel and Hemp Manuka Goodness, both from Pete’s no-added sugar range, picked up Bronze awards so you can serve these at your Christmas and New Year celebrations, not just with confidence in the quality but pride in the fact they are another local, high quality producer.
Of course summer means beer around the barbeque and we are blessed with some outstanding brewers in the region, from award winning Eddyline to handcrafted perfection from Townshend Brewery and the tasty drops made at the Stoke Brewery to name just a few.
Then there are local wines to enjoy with your meal or to celebrate with. I have said this many times but some of the finest wines in New Zealand are made right here in the Nelson Tasman region. From the internationally acclaimed Neudorf Vineyards to the re-focussed Anchorage Wines there is a wine made here to suit every preference. These also make great gifts for your wine loving family and friends who live out of Nelson, there’s nothing better than sending a bottle of Nelson sunshine as a gift.
There are so many options to talk about when it comes to Nelson food and beverage producers I can’t mention them all here but when you’re choosing things for Christmas and New Year at home or for the office shout make sure you choose as many local products as you can, you won’t be disappointed in their quality.
Published in the Nelson Mail 2022-11-23