Know your Farro Fresh
I can remember when I was a young chef, many many years ago, I wanted to make a recipe that required verjuice. It was unprocurable so I had a go at making my own. It was okay, but not great.
Thankfully those days are long over. Gradually the range of imported ingredients grew and a strong culture of artisan producers developed and continues today. Though one should not complain, it was annoying that often such ingredients and products were scattered over a variety of specialist shops. At the same time we were being exposed to writing that reflected the eclectic attitude Kiwis have to food. We could read about and get recipes for the food we had perhaps experienced on trips overseas or in the increasing number of ethnic restaurants, but buying the ingredients to make it yourself was still a mission.
Mainstream supermarkets were, and still are for the main part, restricted to products that have become, well, boringly mainstream. Then on August 31, 2006, along came Kiwis Janene and James Draper (right), the energy behind what is essentially a new generation of supermarket — Farro Fresh Foods. Their first store opened in what then looked like an industrial wasteland in Lunn Ave, Mt Wellington.
Supermarkets — and by that I mean large stores that sell all sorts of food — all have the same floor plan. We all know it. All the fresh and perishable produce is around the perimeter as it needs to be closest to cart docks and delivery areas because it changes more frequently than the processed food, which is found in the middle.
The Farro Fresh stores have a similar plan, but they are very different from your average supermarket both in content and philosophy. Their aim was to be “Your Everyday Fresh Market”, a place for keen cooks, or anyone who wanted good quality real food under one roof.
Now, with four stores, this is exactly what this family-owned business has done. The stores are like a library of just about every good quality imported product as well as a huge and increasing range of Kiwi artisan products (not to mention great coffee, ready-made take away food, fresh flowers, a wine selection with all the New Zealand wine favourites and a great choice of well-priced imported wine) and are one of the few places that cut cheese to order.
Farro Fresh is indeed very different from your average supermarket. If an ingredient is in a cookbook, whether as esoteric as fermented prawn paste or as basic as organic jasmine rice, the Drapers make sure they stock it. In the tradition of expert Design Thinking, Farro stores provide a great experience.
Apart from delivering on all quality imported food available, for anyone interested in food, a browse around any of the Farro stores is an intriguing experience. Farro also ticks the other essential boxes, with great staff who are always well informed and for whom nothing seems a problem, and delicious product tastings. The tastings mean customers not only savour the products but enjoy a learning experience as well, because they can have a yarn to the staff about a product’s provenance and what to do with it. (There also always seems to be great music to shop by.)
In New York you go to Zabar’s, in Auckland you go to Farro! Early on, Farro started stocking products usually only found in farmers’ markets, reflecting their philosophy of practical support for artisan producers, often giving them first entrance to a wider market and support to realise volume and commercial viability. Farro has been the launching pad for many well-known Kiwi brands such as Kohu Road ice cream, L’Authentique additive-free sausages and pates, Freedom Farms pork and Lewis Road chocolate milk, to name a few.
One other important service Farro provides for customers is a constant supply of recipes. This is led by 10-year veteran general manager Michal Haines and recipe creator Carlos Bruni. There is a constant supply of recipe cards strategically placed all around the stores for customers to pick up and an in-house recipe magazine, Feast, is produced by the Farro team.
The following recipes are part of their new spring set. Farro also has its own home meal delivery service, Farro Foodkits — Farro delivers with the meal idea and ingredients and the customer does the cooking. Farro Fresh has definitely changed the face of food shopping in Auckland with a culture of inclusive, unpretentious excellence.
Happy 10th Birthday Farro!
WIN a Farro Fresh hamper
To celebrate this Farro Fresh milestone the gourmet grocer has a beautiful hamper to give away to a foodie just like you!
To enter the draw, simply go to our competition page here and tell us one of the two recipes Farro have shared with us this week.
Win a beautiful Farro 10-year celebratory hamper.