Tag Archives: Food Market

Eating like a local in Venice

VeniceRain
ItalyWe were afraid to eat in Venice. Maybe it is because of a super strict ordinance serving fines and police scrutiny for eating in St. Mark’s square. Not that many tourists would have dared, considering that St. Marks was well under 2 feet of water when we arrived on a soggy cold day. However, with this first impression, we were a little intimidated, since getting food from various shops, cobbling together a picnic meal and eating al fresco is our obligatory European mealtime.
RialtoFruit

But, no matter, we figured out a way to do it, and you can too. Our first stop was the Rialto Market. Rialto Market is a classic open-air fruit and veggie market. It is surprisingly un-touristy though you will find quite a few tourists alongside the hustle and bustle of locals. By 2:30 everything is pretty much closed up – so hurry to get there before lunchtime if you can. We picked up some Sicilian oranges and sundried tomatoes, though as you can see there is a wide  variety of produce available (and even some chili peppers and flowers).
CasaDelParmigiano
In order to supplement our fruit and veg we got cheese and prosciutto at Casa Del Parmigiano (San Polo, 214, 30125 Venezia). It is an absolutely tiny little store, but is completely packed with cheese. In fact, this is probably one of the highest cheese-to-square foot ratios I have ever seen. The store has been in operation since 1936 and you can tell they are experts at the craft of cheese. There is every type of Italian cheese under the sun We got some goat’s milk Latteria della Valsassina cheese to go, which was creamy and mild.  In addition, there is a small but well-curated selection of prosciutto, and the San Daniele we chose was among some of the finest we ever tasted. We picked up two little ciabatta rolls from a grocery shop nearby to complete our sandwich. We ate clandestinely, evading authorities just off the Rialto market under a covered sidewalk that led to some sort of governmental building.

CasaDelParmigiano2

Our final stop Gelatoteca SuSo (Calle della Bissa, 5453, 30124 San Marco, Venezia). It is a little way back from the canal and found it only through a 6th sense that directs us toward gelato products. Suso makes gelato artiginale – artisinal gelato – produced in-house in a large number of unusual flavors.  M got the Orient Express (cinnamon, clove and caramel) and L got Death in Venice [ha ha!] – coffee and chocolate swirl. The gelato was excellent, and the perfect finish to our al fresco lunch. Though we had to do it on the sly – we managed to find (and eat) some non-touristy food in Venice.

SusoGelato

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The story behind Madison favorite, Stella’s Spicy Cheese Bread

We absolutely love the Dane County Farmer’s Market in Madison. It is gigantic, and you can get pretty much any type of produce or baked good there. However, we are creatures of habit, and we make a fairly predictable round of purchases (Hook’s Cheddar, Heirloom Tomatoes, Cilantro, possibly honey, and a few others). One of things we have to get every time we visit is Stella’s hot and spicy cheese bread (which is as awesome as it sounds), and we know many others who feel the same. However, we never really knew the backstory behind the bread. WXOW has the inside scoop, and you may be surprised to learn its origins are actually related to tamale production. You can find the bread in other locations around town, but getting it at the farmer’s market is the best since it is delivered fresh and hot several times throughout the day. If you are far from Madison and craving some cheese bread, Stella’s ships. Or for the more ambitious, Badgerlicious has a DiY recipe.

Stella's Spicy Cheese Bread Stall

Stella’s Spicy Cheese Bread Stall & Crowd by Adam Fagen

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A Photo Tour of the Mercado de San Miguel

spainWe love visiting markets while traveling, and making a little picnic out of the local meats, cheese and fruits. One of our recent favorites is the Mercado de San Miguel in the heart of Madrid. The Mercado de San Miguel is a metal and glass Beaux-Arts masterpiece that was recently opened after a long renovation. You can find nearly any kind of Spanish food in the mercado, including produce, cheese, meats, paella, pastries, ice cream, seafood and more. The market is open until midnight on most days (and 2 AM on weekends) and is nearly always full of people. It is especially crowded around Tapas time, from 7 to 9 or so, before the extremely late Spanish dinner. We visited one evening and filled up on a variety of excellent meats and cheeses, just wandering around and sampling to our heart’s content.

Mercado de San Miguel

Mercado de San Miguel

Interior of the market

Interior of the market

A variety of Spanish Cheeses

A variety of Spanish Cheeses for sale

Cheese shop in the market

Cheese shop in the market

A cheese tapa

Garrotxa cheese tapa

Jamon Iberico

Selecting Jamon Iberico

Jamon Iberico

Carving Jamon Iberico

Jamon Iberico

Jamon Iberico

Macarons for Sale

Macarons and pastries for sale

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A Visit to the Argyle Night Market

We wrote last week about our visit to the Argyle night market, a brand new weekly event in the Argyle neighborhood of Chicago, known for its Vietnamese and Chinese culture. We decided to visit the fair on its opening night, and its second installation is this upcoming Thursday, July 11 from 4 to 8 PM.

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The fair itself was only a block long, which was a little smaller than we imagined, running on Argyle street from Sheridan to Kenmore. There were at least a dozen stalls, featuring mostly food and snacks. On that note, there was also a feature M especially enjoyed – a whole roast pig on a spit. Beyond the food, there was a face painting booth and activities like a Bean Bag Toss for children. The day we visited there was a dragon dance scheduled, but it seemed to have been delayed due to the intermittent rain (note the umbrellas).

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Many local favorites had set up shop: one booth sold sandwiches from perennial favorite Ba Le, and prepared dishes from Hai YenTai Nam Market, a local grocery store, sold various items, including sweetened dried plantains and mango, sauces and Vietnamese candy. Local tofu producer Phoenix bean tofu sold fresh tofu and soy milk.

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Though the majority of stalls were Asian there were some international treats – especially for dessert. One of our favorites was the Brazilian Beijo de Chocolat, who sold brigadeiros, along with other American baked goods like cookies and muffins (some were even gluten-free). Another sweet treat came from Uptown Brownie, with their assortment of gourmet brownies. Overall, we think Argyle Market is off to a great start, we are sure it will gain followers as the summer goes on (and hopefully if the weather cooperates). We hope to be back soon!

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Italy: Eating the food Markets and Shops of Bologna

Bologna’s nickname is “The Fat” and we certainly know why. Bologna is not only full of wonderful restaurants, but exceptional food markets and specialty shops, crowding on nearly every corner. We have truly never before seen such varied and high-quality food within such a small area. We only had a day in Bologna, but we definitely made the most of Bologna’s food in that single day – come join us on our tour.

After a highly successful meal at All’Osteria Bottega, we headed north into the center of town. We started our tour at the traditional green market, Mercato delle’erbe (Via Ugo Bassi, 23). This old-school market is housed in a historical covered market building, and is considered the local place to get fresh food. It is a little bit off the tourist track (and is closed around lunchtime), but it is worth seeking out. The array of foods and veggies available at this market are astounding: the freshest herbs, every variety of tomato, romanesco broccoli, and a wide array of Sicilian citrus. Along the perimeter of the market are meat and cheese shops ready to sell accouterments for your meal.

Mercato dell’Erbe

Next we headed to the area just off of the central historical square in Bologna, right outside of the Duomo. In places like Rome, you will want to give the food places near the touristic center a wide (and we mean WIDE) berth. However this is not so in Bologna, where amazing food is found literally in the shadow of the Duomo. Our first stop was Paolo Atti & Figli (Via Caprarie, 7) and our first food mission was Tortellini.

Paolo Atti & Figli

Tortellini, or their larger cousins, tortelli,  are little folded rings of pasta stuffed with meat or cheese. They are native to Bologna, where they are traditionally served in broth. After having divine tortelli at all’Osteria Bottega, we were of the mind to find some to bring home.  Fresh tortellini graced the storefronts in many food stores across Bologna- including Paolo Atti which immediately drew us in. Unfortunately, these fresh, handmade pasta morsels only had a couple days longevity. No preservatives here. Sadly this meant no tortellini could return with us to Lisbon.

Fresh tortelli for sale at Paolo Atti & Figli

However, we found a way to  take a taste of Bologna’s tortellini with us – chocolate tortellini! Chocolate tortellini held pride of place at the amazing food shop Drogheria Gilberto (Via Drapperie, 5). They came in three varieties – white, milk and dark chocolate – all of which are filled with a rich chocolate ganache. Though the prices may seem a little high, you definitely get what you pay for. We’re thinking we should have gotten a kilo more and have carefully been portioning out our remaining choco-tortellini.

Heavenly chocolate tortellini on display at Drogheria Gilberto

If you are looking for some ready-made food to make a quick meal, look no further than A. F. Tamburini (Via Caprarie 1), which had a full counter of lovely Bolognese specialties by the kilo. As you can see, along with prepared foods, there is also no shortage of meats and cheeses on offer. One great thing about Italian cheese stores is that they will vacuum seal any cheese for you. Our favorite kind of souvenir.

A. F. Tamburini

Throughout the day we had been comparing prices for cheese. We decided it was essential to get a block of DOP, 100% authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano, and we know Bologna would be our best chance (outside of Parma). When we happened upon Ceccarelli (Via Pescherie Vecchie, 8) we knew we had found our winner. They had a very friendly, helpful, and welcoming staff, along with an astounding array of cheeses (and prosciutto) at extremely reasonable prices. Also,  there was nary a tourist in sight.
This is a small sampling of the beautiful cheeses on offer at Ceccarelli. Soon enough we were on our way with a healthy wedge (1/2 kilo) of vacuum-sealed parmigiano-reggiano.
We continued our Bologna food walk right outside the doors of Ceccarelli. In the tiny old streets and back alleys along Via Drapperie, Via Pescherie Vecchie and environs, were tons of open-air greengrocers, fishmongers and countless others under canvas awnings. Despite the rain it was fun to walk along these old market streets where it seems nothing has changed for hundred of years.
We definitely fell in love with the sumptuous food of Bologna, “The Fat” and we only wish we had more time to explore the labyrinthine food wonders of this medieval city. We know we will be back someday. As final proof that Bologna takes its food seriously, check out this food stall in the Bologna airport, sending travelers off with some delicious memories.

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Our first – and last – visit to Testaccio Market

We absolutely love Italian markets. From Philadelphia to Siracusa to Rome, there is nothing better than the hustle and bustle of purchasing fresh produce, fish, bread, olive oil, prosciutto, and cheese from knowledgeable folks who have been doing it for years and years. As such, we were a little disappointed when we went to Campo di Fiori market in Rome and found it overrun with stands catering mainly to tourists seeking weird dried spice mixes (“Taco Spice”, “Aphrodisiac Romance Spice,””Pasta Spice” etc.). Not exactly what we wanted.

Yet relief awaits. Just cross the Tiber river, to the Testaccio neighborhood. It’s full of old buildings and quaint cafes, along with beautiful churches tucked into hidden courtyards.  Testaccio is also home to one of M’s favorite Roman sites – the Pyramid of Cestius – as well as the nearly 100 year-old Testaccio Market.

Right away we could tell that this place wasn’t designed for tourists. The Testaccio market was the real deal. It makes its home in a partially enclosed structure with huge glass skylights, containing vendors selling any kind of delicious item, from meat to bread to veggies. The market was crowded, even at the afternoon hour, and was full of locals chatting and haggling. We spotted tourists, too, but the market certainly wasn’t geared to tourist tastes. One of our favorite stalls was dedicated completely to tomatoes – manned by a kind Sicilian woman who let us sample a few of tomatoes (you can find a few of the varieties below). We also ended up buying arugula, bread, cheese, and some prosciutto all to make a little picnic in the Borghese Gardens.

Sadly, we recently learned that Testaccio Market will only live in its current state until the end of the month. Parla Food give a particularly bleak outlook for the market’s future: moved to a new building, the new market is ugly, built on a parking garage, and worst of all, will charge nearly double for vendor space. Seasoned vendors will probably close up shop instead of pass the expense onto their regular customers, meaning the market could soon morph into another tourist trap like Campo de Fiori. Sounds like a lose-lose situation. Really, since when are Romans known to visit the marketplace by car? Much like the Maxwell St. Market in Chicago, we are sure something will be lost in the move. RIP Testaccio Market.

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Great Non-Taco Items at Maxwell Street Market

Huitlacoche Quesadilla at Rubi’s – our favorite! (via SeriousEats)

It’s no secret that we love Maxwell Street Market for its awesome array of street food, so we were happy to see this Serious Eats Chicago profile on the some great things to eat at the Market (beyond the taco).

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Exploring the Ferry Building in San Francisco

The Ferry building is something of a foodie mecca in San Francisco – located on the Embarcadero – it has a farmers market outside and a range of awesome local specialty shops inside. You are definitely spoiled for choice when you get inside with a range of bakeries, butchers, greengrocers and other delicacies. Some of our favorites included Cowgirl Creamery – an amazing cheese shop, Blue Bottle – a coffee roaster and espresso bar, and Miette – a specialty bakery. One caveat – you definitely pay for quality here! Nevertheless, if you are in San Francisco it is a must do, especially for the waterside views when sitting on the back patio. Check out some of our photos below.

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A taste of Mexico at Maxwell Street Market

Birria, Huraches, tostones, pambozo, tacos, Canela Tea galore! Are we in the Distrito Federal? More like Maxwell Street Market. Maxwell Street Market is basically an open air food court of Mexican cuisine, combined with a totally eclectic outdoor flea market. Despite having lived in Chicago for a long time neither of the Eaters had ever been to the Maxwell Street Market (currently in its 3rd incarnation in its 100+ year history, on Des Plaines).

Maxwell St. Market by Lobstar28

Maxwell St. Market by Lobstar28

Though there are sports jerseys, knockoff sunglasses powertools and tchotchkes galore, we really came out for the food and produce. M could not resist hitting up the mobile truck, Churro Factory, which sell, unsurprisingly only churros. When we arrived at 11:30 they were already out of chocolate churros, unfortunately. Even as a second choice, M thoroughly enjoyed his vanilla cream-filled churro. However, the “out of food” saga continued to haunt us throughout our visit.

Churro Truck by Edsel Little

Churro Truck by Edsel Little

You know it’s a popular time (and that fall has arrived)  when the champurrado (a thick, spiced hot chocolate made of masa) is clear sold out at not one, not two but THREE locations. We were jonesing for some choco-cinnamon goodness so we kept looking. We ended up at La Paz, a food vendor that had a long line forming (which we took as a good sign) where they had only enough champurrado left to fill one cup, which we figured was better than nothing! Turns out we were not disappointed.

Estilo DF by Stu Spivak

Estilo DF by Stu Spivak

Along with our awesome Champurrado ($2) that was perfect for the slight chill in the air, we ended up ordering a Huitlacoche tortilla ($3.50), one of our favorites, and usually rather difficult to find in many Mexican restaurants. There was no room to sit at La Paz so we hunkered down under the kitschy pop art signs that marked the market’s presence on Des Plaines. On our way out we also picked up some purple tomatillos and cilantro for salsa fixins. We can’t beleive it too us so long to get here – but we’ll definitely be back!

Maxwell Street by JosEnrique

Maxwell Street by JosEnrique

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Bienvenue, French Market

The French Market is now officially open, and TimeOut Chicago has some great photos. Hope to get there soon!

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Is the French Market finally happening?

It seems that the ‘French Market’ space in the Ogilvie Transportation Center has been ‘in the works’ for years, but it finally seems like something is going to happen. I’ve been hearing buzz about new vendors being signed up for the French Market in the past few month, and the list of the vendors sounds really good including Pastoral Cheese and Vanille Patisserie. We are also intrigued by the French fry cart from the Netherlands. Check it for yourself at Chicago French Market.

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A trip to DiBruno Brothers Market in Philadelphia

ItalyDiBruno Brothers
930 S. 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19145diinterior

As you can tell by reading this blog, both L and M are big fans of cheese. When we’re traveling we never miss an opportunity to scout out the local cheese shops. On a recent trip to Philly had the chance to visit one of our favorite cheese shops – DiBruno Brothers. When L used to go to school in Philly, she visited this DiBruno Brothers location at least every couple of weeks (she also turned M into a convert). Though M is not from Philly, he lives in Wisconsin, so needless to say, he takes his cheese very seriously. It’s our cheese-loving opinion that DiBruno Brothers is one of the best cheese stores around. The first thing DiBruno Brothers has going for it is its location smack dab in the middle of Philadelphia’s Italian Market. The Italian enclave in South Philly is big, bustling and vibrant, unlike many others (our trip to the NYC Little Italy was underwhelming and frankly kitschy), and the famous Italian Market is located in the middle of this Little Italy. Philadelphia’s Italian Market, though perhaps less impressive than it was a few decades ago, still provides a wide range of small, authentic, family-run Italian shops that would be right at home on a street in Parma or Naples.di2

Though the market is full of great specialty food store, DiBruno Brothers has always been out favorite for its great selection and friendly staff. When you enter, the first thing you notice are the huge cheeses hanging from the ceiling, cured Italian meats sitting on sample plates to eat, a huge cheese counter on one side of the narrow store and a wide variety of dry goods on the other. It goes without saying that cheese is the star of the show. From Italian favorites like Parmigiano-Reggiano and Mozzarella di Bufala to Scandinavian and Argentine cheeses, DiBruno brothers has it all. If there is any variety you would like to try, DiBruno Brothers is generous with samples. The staff are all knowledgeable and helpful and have made great suggestions over the years. The selection is wide and varied, though some of the more unique varieties can be a bit pricey. On our last visit, however, M was on a mission for Garrotxa, a Spanish goat milk cheese he fell in love with back in Wisconsin. Since then he had not seen it anywhere, but DiBruno came to the rescue.

dbbcheeseAlong with a copious variety of cheese from around the world, DiBruno Brothers also boasts a selection of olives, meats and ready made foods. There is enough here to keep you occupied (and fed) for days. The DiBruno empire also stretches into a ready-made food store further up the block in the Italian market, and to a large store and cafe in Rittenhouse Square. However, for us, the DiBruno Brothers cheese store in the Italian market will always be the real deal. This is what heaven looks like!dbbmural

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Germany and Austria: Adventskalender und Weihnachtsmärkte (Holiday markets)

Austria It’s December 1st! And that means a new year of Advent calendars. Advent calendars (Adventskalender) date back to Lutherans in 19th Century Germany, where they were (and are) used to count down the days until Christmas. In our case, December 1st means chocolate advent calendars. There are some enticing looking varieties out there. But I’m going to opt for something a bit more low-key. Cost Plus World Market sells some good varieties from Deutschland for less than 5 bucks.

Kindl

December 1st is also the traditional start date for Weihnachtsmärkte, Austrian and German outdoor holiday markets. According to Wikipedia, Vienna’s market is the oldest and dates back to 1294. This past weekend we had the fortune to go to Chicago’s very own Weihnachtsmärkte, the Christkindlmarket. The long-running market takes place at Daley Plaza in the heart of Chicago’s Loop and contains a giant Christmas Tree and tons of booths chock full of German handicrafts and food (like the Bavarian steins above). The Market runs through the 24th so there is still plenty of time to get festive.

Christmas tree

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