Weekend Sun   

Laze and Graze

Rye co-owner Josh Fitzgerald and Gourmet Night Market event organiser Kim Renshaw with the Trailer Trash Burger. Photo: Tracy Hardy.

Macaroni and Cheese burger anyone? Absolutely crazy but incredibly delicious is what an estimated 5000 people will be devouring at the Gourmet Night Markets’ third season, which heats up for 2015 tonight from 5pm.

Situated in Coronation Park, diners can laze and graze while enjoying a stunning view of Mount Maunganui and being entertained by fresh local acoustic musicians, says market director Kim Renshaw.

Successfully growing the market each year, Kim admits the top drawcard is not the food, but it rates a high second.

“I think the number one reason people come along is the atmosphere – funnily enough food is secondary.

“We have people that bring their own [food] which is fine as well. And I think people really enjoy coming to sit outside with the sunshine and that beautiful view.

“We’ve found that simple works. There isn’t anything else to do apart from relax, which is my goal, so they can just enjoy themselves at the end of the week.”

Local musician Izzy Bones and group The Salty Dogs will perform tonight, with the markets also hosting a number of top local restaurant chefs.

This year Flour & Water, Rye American Restaurant, and Postbank’s Glenn Stubbs join Elizabeth Café & Larder, Delissi, Mount Bistro, The Barrio Brothers, and Satori Lounge.

Kim says the chefs enjoy the altered dynamic of cooking outdoors, meeting their customers in person and the unique opportunity to create ‘street food’ versions of restaurant fare.

For example, the macaroni cheese burger. “It’s pretty cool. Rye American Restaurant comes from the people that run Barrio Brothers and Flying Burrito Brothers,” says Kim.

“Rye is a take on gourmet Southern American food and they had a one-off stall last year.

“Then they thought what do they really want to showcase to people and they came up with a concept of a ‘trailer trash’ burger.

“It’s a panko crumbed macaroni and cheese pattie. It can be served vegetarian and it’s got barbecue pulled pork, buttermilk onion rings, and creamy coleslaw on a soft white bun.”

“Basically you’ve got this mac and cheese pattie deep-fried in a burger,” laughs Kim. “It’s just absolutely crazy but really delicious as well.”

Which is how she describes many of the mouth-watering morsels on offer from restauranteurs, specialist mobile food vendors, caterers, and home cooks of the 50-plus stalls offering desserts, tapas, dinner options, handmade drinks, and artisan food.

Expect to find mussels and calamari, Dutch stroopwaffels and French crepes, woodfire pizza and gourmet burgers, pita breads and po-boy sandwiches, fried chicken, barbecue and slow roasted meats, juices and smoothies, frozen yoghurt and gelato, cheesecake and brownies, freshly made salads and much more, including a boutique farmers’ market.

The alcohol-free, zero-waste, dog-friendly Gourmet Night Markets starts tonight and runs Friday nights (except Christmas Day and January 8) to February 26. See www.gourmetnightmarket.co.nz

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