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Farmers' markets have become very much a part of the weekly shopping routine. They allow us to shop locally for seasonal produce and chat with the growers and producers. They inspire us to try different things and they seriously help with menu planning. A visit to the Whangarei Grower's Market saw Ray McVinnie serving enviable meals to house guests on a recent holiday - bacon, kumara and cheese pie, fried eggplant with lamb chops and skordalia and a berry and red wine tiramisu.

Allyson, who is surrounded by markets in France's Hautes-Pyrenees, makes a very fine tart using the local farmers' soft sheep cheese, walnuts and dates. Most New Zealand markets have at least once local cheesemaker in attendance, so take the recipe along and have a chat to them about which of their cheeses would work best here.

Peter has me salivating at the prospect of Bluff oysters. Oysters are another thing farmers' markets are good for - if they grow in the area the market will have them and you can be sure they are fresh and delicious.

But first, it's time for a refreshing cacao, cardamom and coffee milk while you cook some rice ready for tonight's pork fried rice and read how to be an incomplete success.