Monday, July 30, 2012


My roommate's in Tonga with his girlfriend this weekend. I'd hoped to do something similar either this weekend or the next, but my passport's in Wellington getting an Indonesian visa put in it, so no dice. So I stuck around Auckland, got some work done, and went to some more markets.

A few months ago the Times published a blog post about a flea market down in Otara, a suburb of Auckland with a big Polynesian population. Can't compete with a real tropical island, but it's as close as I'm getting this time around. (One day!) It's a 45-minute bus ride from downtown to Otara, so I got a nice scenic tour of outer Auckland. The market itself is huge, set in a parking lot behind the local community center. First order of business was breakfast. I snagged a spring roll to tide me over while I looked for some Polynesian food, but most of the stalls were selling lo mien, burgers, prawn kebabs, and hot dogs, so I ended up with a Moroccan sausage made from New Zealand lamb from a German-themed weiner stall. Call it cosmopolitan. Every market around here seems to have a stall making fresh juice, so I got a cup of carrot/orange/ginger to go with.

The rest of the market is a mix of cheap clothes, housewares, crafts, and produce. Since for once I didn't walk home, uphill, with my groceries slung over my shoulder, I loaded up on fruit and the veggies called for in a Vietnamese noodle salad I wanted to make. (Which was phenomenal, by the way, and I just finished the leftovers for dinner.) And I found a stall selling mangosteens, so success. And I went by Pukeko Bakery, which has makes basically the best bread ever, for a loaf and a apricot pastry. I got their sourdough last time and it was fantastic; this time I went for a multigrain. This is the third market I've seen them at, so clearly I'm not the only one buying their stuff.

The best part of this market are the crafts. A few stalls were selling gorgeous woven-grass bags, like the one Ibu Amelia gave me in Papua last summer, alongside carved coconut-shell jewelry and one table with bark cloth. I very nearly bought a woven fan with 'Tonga' written across it just for the hell of it. I did get some NZ souvenirs, though - paua shell and carved bone earrings and hair combs with Maori patterns. There was some stunning carved greenstone (local jade), but that's a bit above my budget.

On the way out I finally nabbed some Island food: Samoan pork buns and poké, a dessert made from bananas and tapioca flour with coconut milk. Those made for dinner - the pork bun was pretty awful, but the poké's not bad.

Sunday was back to the French market, and thank god this time I found a route that went around one or two of the hills rather than straight over them. Lemongrass, mint, and cilantro for my noodle salad, a tart for breakfast, and local lamb chops because I'm in New Zealand and it's basically required. Those'll be seared for dinner tomorrow, just in time to make my roommate jealous.

ETA Tuesday night: rare seared New Zealand lamb loin chops, potatoes with onions and sage, and lemon garlic string beans, all but the onions, garlic, and oil from this weekend's market.

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