One of my favorite places in Sonoma County to Fruit Hunt as if I’m abroad, is the little market on Petaluma Hill Rd.
The not so specifically named ‘Asian Market’ http://ow.ly/Aqnfa, owned by jolly Laotian native Charlie, is my go-to for the hard-to-find Asian products like Crispy Prawn Chili, Tamarind Paste, or Pickled Thai Eggplants.
Always welcoming and tickled to see me, a naive young gringa sifting through the produce of his homeland, Charlie’s always happy to give a cooking tip on some of the more obscure vegetables, or advise me not to eat the peel of a fruit I’m about to plunge into, but to cut off the end and extract.
He and his family bring in seasonal fruit in short but sweet windows throughout the year. Check frequently, and one may find the treasure of a whole, wonderfully stinky Durian, Dragon Fruit, a cluster of Longan, a bag of Rambutan, or my particular favorite, Lychee. During my last Fruit Hunt a couple days ago, I was lucky enough to get a few pounds of Lychee (some of the best of this year!) and a few banana/plantains (not sure which these are closer too).
Big, round, and ever so fragrant, I brought one bag of Lychee to work and introduced them to my co-workers, some of whom had only tried them canned. I thrilled to see the hook sink in as a look of pure pleasure settled on their faces, realizing what a treat a fresh, perfectly ripe Lychee is.
With a smaller community of Asian Americans than in San Francisco just south, I’m thrilled to find any and all Asian products and produce in Sonoma County and will report back accordingly.