We’re talking about some of the world’s great markets this week, and what better way to fête this staple of the culinary world than to talk about three of our favorite market experiences.
Lyon is a wonderful destination for any market-loving culinary traveler. The market at Les Halles each morning offers some of the region’s best and freshest products for consumption or purchase. Travel there with chef Robert Ash to learn how to pick and choose from among the many offerings. (Read about Les Halles market in Paris – another wonderful market to visit!)
I’ve been to a lot of markets in Europe, and I’m not sure any is as impressive as the Boqueria market in Barcelona. Stall after stall of every type of Spanish ingredient you can imagine, just waiting for you to take it home, cook it up, and serve it to your friends. There are stalls outside the entrance, but most of the market is actually inside. In addition to the many vendors plying their fruits, vegetables, cheeses, cured meats, spices, olive oils, and the like, are a number of eating establishments. At the recommendation of one of our chefs I had a quick tapas lunch at one of them, when I was lucky enough to snag a seat at the very crowded bar at lunchtime. I had a dish of baby eels (a whole mound of baby eels, each the size of a tadpole) and egg, served with a delicious white wine from the Priorat. You can experience La Boqueria yourself during one of our most popular one-day cooking classes: La Boqueria market visit and cooking class (the baby eels are entirely optional!).
Figline Valdarno Market in Tuscany
There is nothing famous about the Figline Valdarno market: like most towns in Tuscany (in all of Italy), the market is simply a way of life. Figline Valdarno itself is a small town about thirty minutes outside of Florence. What makes it one of our favorites? The weekly market. I’ve had the pleasure to visit it on more than one occasion, and it is always magical. Part of it is simply the vicarious pleasure of seeing our chefs experience food: it is evident in every conversation with the vendors. But it is also the pleasure of learning about Tuscan ingredients. I remember in particular a time we bought fresh porcini mushrooms –FRESH PORCINI MUSHROOMS! — which we later dressed with a touch of extra virgin olive oil so good it brought tears to my eyes and salt. And also a time I saw a group of American travelers introduced to porchetta, that amazing rolled, stuffed, boneless pig slowly spitted, roasted, sliced, and (if you’re lucky) consumed on the spot with your hands in the middle of the market place. Buon appetito!
Visit the market in Figline Valdarno during our Classic Tuscan Table at Villa Casagrande.
By Peg Kern
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