The Parnell Farmers’ Market was my local when I lived in Grafton. Being a short walk from my house, I visited most weeks to pick out the best-looking seasonal fruits and vegetables, fresh Pukeko Bakery bread, cut flowers and occasional treats like raw chocolate.
I don’t go often these days, so it took me a while to discover The Vegan Deli, a weekly stall that set up at the market around the middle of last year.
One of the Deli’s main offerings is their selection of artisan raw nut cheeses: smokey pecan, agave-sweetened walnut crusted, garlic & dill or dukkah crusted cashew.
Alara gave me some smokey pecan cheese to take home and try – it’s the purple block pictured above – and soon afterwards my sister brought a block of the garlic and dill cheese to family Christmas. Both are really special and distinctive – I can imagine buying one of each and serving guests a fancy cheese plate.
Kaiaroha cheeses are made with probiotic-cultured raw, organic nuts. Minimal additional ingredients are added, so that as well as being vegan, the cheeses are gluten free, and don’t include any cane sugar or soy.
The animal-cheese eater in the house says that the semi-soft texture of these cheeses would be most comparable to a chèvre, with a light rind.
Besides the blocks of cheese, when I visited, The Vegan Deli’s stall was heaving with picnic-ready savoury treats: slices of quiche, pumpkin rosemary & tofu pie, and cashew cheese sausage rolls. I’ve eaten a few dense, dry vegetarian sausage rolls in my time – these were the opposite: light and flaky, with a soft, tasty filling.
There were also a selection of sweet things: slices of chocolate or hummingbird cake, bags of fudge (russian, ginger or chocolate), gluten free Christmas cake and bliss balls. The russian fudge was perfect: classic Edmonds-style made vegan.
Parnell Farmers’ Market is held every Saturday from 8-12, in the carpark behind the Parnell Community Centre and Parnell Library.