Avondale Markets was teeming with life on a hot, humid Sunday morning in February. The warm hues of citrus, plums and tomatoes dominated the colour palette, along with a background of green – fresh herbs in abundance. Here are a few of the more exciting things I found at Avondale last Sunday:
Thai shallots – you can’t buy these regularly anywhere else (correct me if I’m wrong and you know of somewhere, I’d love to know too). Find them at the stall near the second corner in (at the carpark end). Thai shallots have a reddish skin and a pink to purple-blushed flesh. They are much smaller, and their flavour is more pronounced than that of brown shallots. Excellent crushed into Thai curry pastes, as well as thinly sliced into laab and salads and pickles, but equally good in Western dishes. Last night I used them to make a buerre blanc, infused with basil, to go with freshly-caught snapper. The Thai family who run this stall also sell the bird’s eye chillis pictures here. They’re great – I used one, finely shopped, to add heat to a raw fish laab the other night and that heat was perfect – warm and tingling but not searing.
Backyard green grapes – organic and in possession of an aroma and flavour completely unlike any imported grapes. The smell, and then the taste of these transported me right back to my childhood home which had a good vine growing the length of the fence down between us and the neighbours.
Black Doris plums – or as the stallholder had them labelled, ‘Black Dorres’ – nice, has a Spanish kind of ring to it. These ones had the wax bloom intact, a good indicator of freshness. I’ve always been a red-flesh plum girl, yet yellow-flesh plums are about all you can ever buy at most greengrocers’. Black Doris are the ultimate red-flesh plum, great for sinking your teeth into as is, or for preserving and jam-making.
Fijian ginger – so fresh it was still wearing a pretty pink blush. Apparently Fijian ginger is superior – high in the oleoresins that provide flavour and health benefits, and low in fibre, so not woody. The stall I got this from is the one on the carpark-side corner at the far right, before you cross over into bric-a-brac territory. I love this stall, full of Fijian produce like green papaya, fresh turmeric, okra in different sizes and all sorts of Indian herbs.