Thank goodness it is the weekend! This week felt exhausting (not that I actually worked any harder) and Friday night (plus a cold beer) couldn’t come any sooner. The end of the week also meant it was the end of my gluten free trial fortnight (which I will be blogging about very soon). What better way to celebrate being able to eat bread than by spending most of Saturday at the local French Farmer’s Market hosted by La Cigale? Being only ten or so minutes drive away and very popular I am not sure how Edd and I have gone so long without cutting our Saturday sleep ins short to eat French food and spend money but nevertheless now that we have gone along I see it becoming a regular occurrence (especially as the weather gets more and more stunning, sorry sleep ins).
Held in the back area of Parnell I was a little bit (okay, a lot) worried about parking, especially because the thought of parallel parking sends me into a minor panic. Luckily there was a large, non-parallel, parking area where despite being busy and at peak time we found a park in a matter of minutes. The market itself is rather huge with a variety of stalls. There is a big area devoted to fresh produce and the fruit and vegetables looked both affordable and appealing). As well as all the outdoor stalls the La Cigale restaurant area that is open during the week is also thriving with a lot of delicious pastries, a cafe and enough delicious food to make brunch a pretty tough decision.
For us we ended up going with the roast pork roll from the inside carvery recommended by a friend which looked amazing! The deliciously moist pork came in a beautiful fresh toasted bun with aioli, dijon mustard, plenty of watercress and some tomato along with a fruity chutney that rounded the whole thing off. Perhaps the best part about this meal was the piece of crackling that was nothing less than perfection (okay, so I kind of am obsessed with perfect crackling). For $10 this was a generous meal that we both agreed was pretty amazing.
As well as actually paying for food perhaps my favourite part of markets is all of the samples….and there are plenty! I don’t think I have seen so many different hummus/aioli flavour combinations in one place at once. Amonst the plethora of different stalls to visit there were take home deserts, Mediterranean dried fruits and nuts, chorizo and salami stalls, a whole store full of french wine, fresh fruit tarts, french cheese, well made coffee (albeit there was a bit of a wait) and of course plenty of heavenly gluten filled bread (oh and there was even a tea stall!).
After lunch we were tossing up whether to have the fresh crepes or the fresh fruit ice creams for desert and although I was keen to pretend I was french for the morning the gorgeous weather insisted a freshly made ice cream was in order, and who am I to disagree? I had boysenberry and Edd and strawberry and they were huge and divine. We also ended up taking home some treats to have a nice easy dinner tonight. After much deliberation whilst sampling every food possible we finally decided on some delicious chorizo sausages, a feta and pesto style dip as well as some fresh bread and a strawberry tart for dessert. Yum.
So if you find yourself with nothing to do on a Saturday or a Sunday or if you have a dinner party and want some food inspiration then take a drive to La Cigale where the market is held. It is held between 8am-1.30pm Saturday or 9am-1.30pm Sunday at 69 St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell, Auckland. I can’t see myself staying away for long….
Also, if any one is wondering how it compares to the other popular farmer’s market out at Clevedon which I blogged about here then here are some of my thoughts:
- The French market is bigger with a lot more produce and stalls as well as a wine shop, proper cafe and a couple other stores. Clevedon markets by contrast had only 1 dip stall (versus like 3 at La Cigales) so there isn’t quite so much variety. I also like the fact that the French market is held on both days of the weekend whilst Clevedon is a Sunday event only.
- Obviously the French market being in Parnell is a lot more central and despite my reservations still is fine to find parking at. By contrast the Clevedon market is a bit of a drive (albeit a beautiful drive) but being held outside of Auckland in Clevedon it makes for a rather nice escape from the bustle of the city.
- For kids I would recommend the Clevedon markets just because it is a little less crowded and there is the famous pony ride. At the french market there aren’t any kid related activities (other than keeping them occupied with samples and with patting the variety of friendly dogs that seem to come along). On a side note the live music at the Clevedon market made for an amazing atmosphere that was a little lacking at the French market.
- Lunch wise both have delicious options but the Cafe at La Cigale is a good option for a proper sit down, big breakfast type of feed. Both were reasonably priced with slightly more seating available at the French market with the large indoor tables versus the couple of hay bales at Clevedon that were always occupied :(.
Overall I would visit both again but due to its proximity and the larger amount of food and produce present I see the French Farmer’s market becoming a regular addition to a weekend whilst Clevedon may remain a bit more of a special trip out every once in a while.
Any other markets I should be making part of my weekend?
p.s A very special thanks to my husband for taking most of the amazing photos!