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gourmet grocery store gems around the world

There is a reasonable amount of information about larger markets in cities around the world- but I'm interested in finding out about smaller gourmet independent/specialty grocers in a variety of cities around the world: New York, Southern California (I know- not a city), Tokyo, Berlin, Madrid or Barcelona, Paris, London and Florence (Tuscany)/Rome and beyond!

I'll post in the individual regions as well, but I'm interested in tourist perspectives as well.
I'd like to find places with amazing product, displays, service, innovation in technology or "eco-friendly" products and design and characters (owners/managers/staff).

I'm trying to assemble research on the world's grocery gems- stores and markets that make people go "wow!".

I've googled and found a couple of top ten lists, but they seem to focus on larger scale markets and stores.

Thank you!

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  1. Hayday Country Market in Connecticut and thereabouts - delicious baked goods, an assortment of finer grocery store items and produce one might need, gorgeous versions of their own things - like the sesame orange salad dressing. Some have little restaurants attached and they're all very pretty with wood accents and baskets etc. (no, not cheap - yes much of the stuff is worth it - and I don't recall it being exorbitant)

    In NYC, Zabar's is foundational. I don't know if that qualifies as a 'larger market' for you or not, but it's just lovely and the whole place smells of two things - authenticity and butter.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Cinnamon

      I am heading to nyc again in a couple of months. We'll be staying in the UWS and I learned of Zabar's and Citarella's. I am very much looking forward to exploring these food wonderlands.

      1. re: lynnlato

        Just went to Fairway yesterday and almost fainted when the total came out to $285. But....it's worth it. A Valentine gift to myself.

    2. This fails your criteria for small, but for Berlin there is really only kadewe.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        Umm. Not entirely true anymore, even tho the KaDeWe food section still beats the crap out of any other similar store in Berlin. However, there are now a number of gourmet departments in Kaufhof (Galeria Kaufhof), a department store chain.

        There's a local mini-chain "Knofi" -- two stores in Kreuzberg selling all kinds of wonderful Middle Eastern stuff like feta-dips, grape leaves, grilled veggies, pasta, etc.

        Then there's Mitte Meer, a Mediterranean supermarket with an abundance in seafood, cheeses, olives, Spanish canned goods, and wine.

        We have a bunch of specialty chocolate / patisserie stores as well. Ah, so much to eat, so little time... >sigh<

        1. re: linguafood

          You're right, of course. I might have said that although there are other places, the kadewe food court remains a must!

      2. Ah, Zabar's. I was shopping there once, waiting patiently for my turn, when a woman barges through the crowd, bellowing, "Can I get limpa here?" I shouted back, "You can get as limp as you like, but wait your turn."

        1. The Boys in Delray Florida is a don't-miss if you're in the area. Great produce, deli, wine, baked goods. As mentioned here on other threads, a very hazardous parking lot.

          Also a don't-miss is just down the block, The Boys' futuristic yet down-home satellite market, petting zoo and demonstration intensive hydroponic farm, The Girls. You can pick strawberries there: they give you a bucket and a pair of scissors to snip each berry from its vertical growing container.

          Edited: forgot to include this link: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-boys-farm...

          1. In London, I'm quite fond of Leila's in East London. They have a small selection of v.g. produce, some choice ingredients and run a small cafe. It is exceedingly chic. They are exceptionally particular: I was there and a friend ordered cheese on his ham sandwich. They said, we don't put cheese on that sandwich, but you may order a side of cheese.

            1. Russo's in Watertown, Massachusetts! I cannot recommend this store enough.

              It used to be a tiny produce store with fantastic quality. It expanded a few years ago to be include sandwiches, a bakery, cold cuts and other specialty foods but still kept its amazing quality. The staff are some of the nicest and most helpful people, and many have been there for 20+ years. They also feature many interesting local items, such as Armenian breads.

              1. Good grief! How could I forget DiBruno's in Philadelphia! Every time I go in there, I want to buy the entire store....

                1 Reply
                1. re: linguafood

                  In Chicago we have a place called Fox & Obel... I adore it. Their breads, their cheese... the small cafe attached has lovely sandwiches and entrees... Walking through there just relieves my stress and puts a smile on my face!

                2. Goose the Market in Indy -- tiny, but exquisite.

                  1. Colmado Quilez in Barcelona, an emporium for canned seafood, other canned goods, rice, legume, vinegar, olive oil, cheeses, wine and all food Catalan/Spanish. No fresh meat, seafood or produce.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: PBSF

                      Is that where one can purchase those super-expensive, super-delicious canned seafoods made by L'Espinalier (sp.? it's been a while since the AB Spain show.... drool)?

                      1. re: linguafood

                        Colmado Quilez carries a selection of Espinaler canned seafood product. Not every product canned by Espinaler is priced in the stratosphere. Some are very reasonable: white clams at 8E, medium cockles at 6E, etc.

                    2. Top of the top: Harrod's food halls (yes, that's hallS, plural!) in London. The only venue I've ever seen that outdoes KaDeWe in Berlin, if only in sheer acreage.

                      1. A few more places that are small, eclectic and family owned. All are passionate about what they sell:
                        Venice: Mascari for wine, apertives, spirits, dried fruit and nuts, candy, dried gourmet items such as porcini, sundried tomatoes, spices.
                        Paris: Detout for all types of baking goods such as chocolates, candied fruit peel; also dried goods that fill every inch of the store
                        Barcelona: Gispert for the best dried fruit selection, honey, preserves, legume, coffee all beautifully displayed in an atmospheric century old store

                        1. Oh, and the Maille store in Paris, and Fauchon.

                            1. re: johnlockedema

                              Peck is kinda big, no? I was just there in December and I wouldn't exactly call it "smaller" as the OP qualified in his/her query. jmo

                            2. This is a wonderful topic, but don't forget that some of the large supermarket chains also carry some gems - I've certainly found that to be the case in France, with the "Reflets de France" regional products, for example. http://www.refletsdefrance.fr/ Those are carried by the huge Carrefour group. And Sam is right about KaDeWe in Berlin.