Inspiration for this week's column came from a visit to my vegetable supplier The Art of Produce. Aldo Di-Cesare and John Becroft took over this established wholesale produce business last year. As well as continuing to be the finest suppliers to Auckland's commercial kitchens, these two seasoned operators are opening their doors to the public.
You can pick your veges and fruit from the shelves in their Grey Lynn warehouse or use their online shop Little Green Door and have it delivered.
Over the past few months their range has expanded to include some superior products. Maybe Aldo's Italian heritage has got the better of him, because many of these goodies fly under a green, white and red flag.
I love going into the warehouse to shop. I get to see what's coming through the markets, I can access all the special treats destined for restaurant tables and I can choose exactly what and how much I need.
I also get to quiz Aldo with my Italian food queries and, if he happens to be delivering to me at home, I take him for a spin around the garden to swap tips on vegetable-growing.
So what did I find on my latest visit to Aldo's store? Quails eggs, quinces, Jerusalem artichokes, tamarillos and a range of locally made Italian cheeses.
Check out the recipes below:
* Grant Allen, a former restaurateur, runs an Auckland bespoke catering service called COOK. See Grant's Facebook page here.By Grant Allan