Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Avondale Sunday Market

The weather may be all up and down these days, but it's been feeling more and more like summer. I've discovered all sorts of interesting produce for sale too. At Tai Ping on Dominion Road the other day, they had cherimoyas and passionfruit on display. It's not every day that you see these fruits around, but I have enjoyed them in Auckland before. No, what I was really excited by was what we have been searching for for years: an authentic Vietnamese phở, with a mountain of leaves served on the side, or failing that, then at least the right herbs, so we could make our own.

I've already given up on the former.  I have never found a Vietnamese eatery here which provides the requisite quantities of the more commonly available bean sprouts, coriander, mint and lime wedges, not to mention the delicious garnish of fried shallots and of fresh red chilli slices.  I've seen Thai basil for sale at garden centres, but the more exotic herbs like sawtooth coriander (also called culantro, distinct from cilantro/coriander)?  I didn't have a clue where to begin.  That is, until a search for galangal (which I have still yet to find in Auckland) led me to the Avondale Sunday Market.  There, amongst the young bitter melon and snake bean plants, next to the holy basil, I came across the perilla with its distinctive purple underside, as well as the long spiky leaves of the sawtooth coriander.  Hooray!

Vietnamese herbs like sawtooth coriander (a.k.a. culantro) and red perilla were available
Actually, I had walked right past this stall the previous week, and only paid attention to it at the Otara Market on Saturday because there were fewer things competing for my attention.  Seriously, for sheer variety and market atmosphere (read: crowds), nothing beats the Avondale Sunday Market.

It's not one of those markets where you go to eat, not unless you are into deep fried hot dogs and the like, though you can certainly choose to sample pre-made Asian food like taro sticky rice rolls wrapped in banana leaf, if you are not worried about moist food stored at room temperature.  You also need to shuffle your way past the stands selling Korean socks, cheap underwear and second hand goods, before you reach the vegetable section.  But once you get there, what a reward!  Here are some things that piqued my interest.

Banana trunks and artichokes

Three kinds of eggplant

Green papaya

Fresh longans

Not sure, black sugarcane and burdock root

Relatively cheap tomatoes (to think they were briefly sold for $12.99/kg at Countdown earlier this year!)

Possibly arrowroot and Jerusalem artichoke

Goose and duck eggs

Gorgeous flowers
Try to get there early, for the best selection of produce and to avoid the worst of the crowds, and don't forget to bring cash!

Market Details

Avondale Sunday Market
Avondale Racecourse, Ash Street, Avondale

Market hours:
Sundays 6am - 12pm

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