Monday, March 29, 2010

Essential supplies alert

Quick heads up that the tastiest condiment in the city can be found at La Cigale French Market, on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays when they haven't run out. I first heard of harissa several years ago in Cuisine magazine, although my attempts to replicate their recipe by pounding Gregg's dried chillies into a mortar full of Delmaine Pure Olive Oil resulted in an inedible casting of red spicy grease.

This experience put me off for many years, but I'm pleased to announce that a delicious and highly addictive version of harissa is now available in Auckland from Abu-Melamed at La Cigale, and once purchased will I promise come to form an irresistable staple in your fridge.

You'll find your own favourite uses, but for me their harissa is brilliant scattered over hummus, and it also combines well with yoghurt, garlic, lemon and salt to make an exotic-tasting dip on the fly. It's spicy enough to give you some happy pain, but the heat doesn't linger, so you'll find yourself dipping back in within seconds, as if you're some stupid sheep wrestling with the concept of an electric fence.

As much as I'd like to mock a posh market held in an enclave of the city's oldest money, La Cigale in Parnell is both reliable and interesting and always rewards a visit. I enjoyed the market even more when it featured some crazy old bat selling hare, but I haven't seen her for a few months now, so maybe we're now out of season for game meat or, more likely, out of season for old bats.