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Jul 17, 2010 09:19 AM

best or favourite market in the world?

I have been on the road traveling since 2006 and have had the happy chance to visit many markets (some well known and some off the beaten track). I always find the way into a new place is to wander the market, sample to foods and talk to the locals. I have more travel on the horizon (right now I'm in Macau) so I would love to hear about other foodies favourite markets big or small, and what makes them special. Hopefully I'll get a chance to drop in!

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  1. Indoor or outdoor?

    Indoor: Berkeley Bowl in California

    The sheer variety of produce. There can be 20 varieties of grapes in-season, 40 types of apples, exotic fruit from all over the world. Also it is about the local community. Rich, poor any nationality you can name ... they all shop at the Bowl because it has something for everyone. There are two stores. The newer one, not far awy is the better stop.

    SF Ferry Plaza farmers market

    Great outdoor location on the bay. Huge organic heirloom produce selection, baked goods from the top bakeries, artisan cheese and other products.

    Here;s one of the world's great produce markets, started in 2000, that I'll bet NO tourist knows about. I was dazzled. Here's my recent report ... NOTE ... this is NOT the Mercado Central in the city, but on the edge of town.

    Guatemala: Central de Mayoreo (CENMA) World-class, mind-blowing market in Guatemala City

    Produce markets are my thing and I have stopped at a lot when I travel. This market is one of the best I've seen.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      wow thanks rworange! I like either indoor or outdoor as each carries its own particular experience. i am from Toronto Canada and we have two fantastic year round markets and regular farmers' markets in the summer. I love discovering new produce and meeting the people who carefully bring it to my plate. If you ever get to the west coast of Canada check out the Saltspring summer market...or for a really great one try the apple festival in October.

      1. re: wanderer

        Ironically, my first thought upon seeing the thread name was St. Lawrence Market! That's certainly my personal favorite.

    2. Best "foreign" market (food) - Palma, Mallorca, Spain

      Best farmers market - Rye, Sussex, UK (only about 12 stalls - but each one a cracker)

      Best "proper" market - Bury, UK (it's "real" - not foody place as such, just good quality food for "real people", together with the usual stalls selling fake designer watches, cheap underwear that your Gran would wear, and the like)

      1. The best indoor market I've ever been to is absolutely the Mercato Centrale in Florence, Italy. It's huge, and they sell the best quality ANYTHING you need to cook the best Italian food of your life. I've never since gotten better mascarpone than I bought there. Downstairs are aisles of stalls selling cheeses, meats, homemade pastas etc. Upstairs is an acre of produce - unbelievable.

        The second best is the market in Bangkok near my guesthouse on Sri Ayutthaya Rd. A wonderful place that sold dried shrimp in about 10 different sizes among thousands of other things. There was a stall in there, completely hidden away, where a woman made fabulous pad thai to order. I've stopped ordering it in the US as I can't find any to compare to hers.

        I also like the markets in Toronto and Baltimore. Oh, and the Reading Terminal in Philadelphia.

        3 Replies
        1. re: woodleyparkhound

          Its been a while since I have been thee, so I forgot about the Florence market. That is pretty great. There are some great little restaurants around it too.

          1. re: rworange

            The restaurants around Florence market are good.
            Had a wonderful half a grilled rabbit with the kidney still attached.

            For me though the market in Valencia near the main trainn station is the best I've ever been to.

          2. re: woodleyparkhound

            We were in Firenze not long ago and I agree. I filled a small suitcase with products. My daughter loved the chocolates, and we got a lot of delicious fruit for our hotel room a few times.

            I have to say that my favorite markets, though, are in Istanbul (not a single one in particular, just all of them in general). This is where my husband is from and when we go back to visit his family, I THOROUGHLY enjoy shopping at the fish, spice, cheese, and produce markets. We go out of a morning, as the fishermen are bringing in their catches and pick out the fish we will eat that evening... as they are still swimming around, happily oblivious of their fate. The spices are so amazing. I wish we had the time to go back to visit more often, as I'm very sad when those precious spices run out (we average about once a year, but have not been back the past couple of years as his family were trying to get visas to come here). We don't live where there are grand local markets like NYC or SF.

          3. The original comment has been removed
            1. Boqueria fish market in Barcelona. Nothing can beat it for fresh seafood and sitting at the bars with a cold beer and a tapas.

              3 Replies
              1. re: pj26

                pj26, I'll be in Barcelona mid-September. And I'll take your recommendation. Beer and tapas in Barcelona will be hard to beat.

                That said, have a listen to Cork's Hidden Village, and let the traders and their particular brand of banter persuade you to sample the phenomenal fare on offer in the heart of the 'real' capital of Ireland.

                They wowed the Queen of England earlier this summer.

                Top notch food. And great fun too.

                1. re: davidintheposthouse

                  We had the chance to visit the English Market in Cork and absolutely loved it. Had a really fun time talking with and sampling from one vendor, selling us very high quality cured meats and cheeses. The olives were unexpectedly amazing, and the cured and smoked fish was fantastic. I remember fondly smoked eel, small anchovies wrapped around an olives on toothpicks, smoked mussels, and my favorite the smoked Haddock. Good bread too! We loaded up at that market and had two or three meals of what we called "trunk lid picnics"!

                  1. re: davidintheposthouse

                    It's great - be sure to try either Quim or Pinotxo for tapas (or both!).