As a chef and photographer, there’s not too many things I enjoy more than eating good food and photographing it; and spending time in City Markets are just the place to do both.
Throughout my travels, I’ve always had an affinity to the market, it’s people, food, smells and vibrancy of life. To meet the farmer, fisherman or shop owner and hear and see what their labor has produced, adds to the satisfaction. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a brief list of some of my favorite markets that you should… Drive, Stop and Eat.
The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria
Located on the bustling avenue of La Rambla, Sant Josep is inundated with both locals and throngs of tourist, but that doesn’t take away from its rich history, over 800 years, in providing a wonderful array of fresh seasonal produce, fresh meats, cheeses and just caught seafood. One can suffer from sensory overload, if not careful, as every turn of the head captivates you with rich colors and artfully displays fruits or the sounds of vendors hawking “street” food snacks and fresh squeezed fruit juices. Arrive early to beat some the tourist crowds and you’ll also catch many of the seafood stalls hand selecting a tremendous variety of seafood. During lunch find a tapas bar, sit back and people watch.
Montreal, Quebec Canada
Located in the heart of Little Italy, Jean Talon Market mimics more of a traditional farmers’ market embellished with an array of small food stalls, cafes and coffee shops. You’ll also find small restaurants and bakeries dotted along the perimeter. From bagels to lox, you’ll find a wonderful selection of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetable that are artistically displayed. From June to October, many of the streets are reserved to just pedestrian traffic, which for me, allowed me to eat and walk with great ease. Say Qui to French pastries without crossing the Atlantic!
Mercado do Bolhao
Amongst the many of Porto’s rich characteristics, is the Mercado do Bolhao. Located in the center of Porto, this rustic market houses several fresh fruits, produce and butchers. A highlight for me were the fresh seafood vendors, who’s stalls, mostly run by women, had an endearing personality and were quick to both help me with my Portuguese as well as educating me on the vast amount of fresh seafood and shellfish they had to offer. The market has a couple first floor restaurants that prepares local fare, sourcing most of the ingredients from the vary booths I visited. I found this market to be less populated by tourist, which was welcomed as I got more a feel of true Portuguese culture. Florist, spice shops, local gifts and souvenirs and of course, Port wine are available from the other shops that span the perimeter of the market.
The Neighbourgoods Market
Cape Town, South Africa
This Cape Town, Woodstock area, market on the grounds of the Old Biscuit Mill is more of an epicurean delight than market. Among the throngs of trendy clothing boutiques, jewelry makers and gifts are some of the best restaurant quality food vendors Cape Town has to offer. From craft beers to artesian breads, and Halal to vegan, you’ll have no problem finding something to satisfy your tastes or needs. Open year round, but only on Saturdays, this market has a great following of locals as well as visitors. Communal seating on large park style tables allows a wonderful mixing of conversations and taste sharing. Throughout the year Neighbourgoods host several food, wine and music related festivals and activities.
Darajani Bazaar & Market
Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania
If you like the air perfumed by a mélange of spices, the sounds of hawkers and buyers and the organized rawness of a traditional African market, then the Darajani Market is for you. Throngs of locals and tourist visit this market every day to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, spices and everyday necessities. Early risers can catch the action during fresh seafood auctions or butchers just tending to their offerings, the sights and smells will alert you that you’re close. The main building is surrounded by a host of stalls and booths selling tourist driven spice kits and local clothing. As dates are grown in abundance on Zanzibar, you’ll find a whole street dedicated to this fruit, as well as vendors using mobile carts sell fresh bread. Take your time and you meander through alleys and streets lined with local crafters and shop owners.