Three of Our Favorite Market Experiences
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:
Tours markets with Chefs Sidney and Alison:
Tours is a wonderful destination for any market-loving culinary traveler. The covered market at Les Halles each morning offers some of the Loire Valley's best and freshest products for consumption or purchase, and Chefs Sidney and Alison will show you how to pick and choose from among the many offerings. One other wonderful thing about Tours is that there is also a rotating market schedule, so you'll get to explore one of the other outdoor markets with the chefs as well!
La Boqueria market visit and cooking lesson
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 with Chef Claudio
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? Visiting it with Chef Claudio. I've had the pleasure to do so on more than one occasion, and it is always magical. Part of it is simply the vicarious pleasure of seeing Chef Claudio experience food: it is his passion, evident in every conversation he has with each of the vendors he frequents. But it is also the pleasure of learning from a master. 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 Claudio introduce a group of American travelers to porchetta, that amazing rolled, stuffed, boneless pig slowly spitted, roasted, sliced, and (if you're with Claudio) consumed on the spot with your hands in the middle of the market place. Buon appetito!
By Peg KernBy Peg Kern