My penchant for food markets — vendors sell beautifully presented, high-quality, fresh and local ingredients under one roof — is heartfelt. Even at home, where the market only functions for a six-month season, it enhances my everyday life.
I am equally passionate about the food halls and food courts I find during my travels, where exceptional ingredients are incorporated into an array of foods usually made and sold as take-away or to eat on site, in a casual, communal style where people actually talk to strangers. Even when my travels incorporate restaurants for every meal, I shop to see what’s there, learn about cuisine and ingredients, taste what I can and buy products to take home or gift. I find comfort on stools at counters or at communal tables, where I buy intrinsic specialties that I usually cut into pieces on the table, taste and offer to others to sample. Invariably, there are happy little kids at these places, delighting in some simple fare and sweets and always hungry teens and millennials willing to try something new.
Here are three favorites.
Eataly, in New York City as well as several other U.S. cities, is an Italian food hall in New York’s Flatiron district. It’s in a building New Yorkers knew as The Toy Center and just a few blocks from where my father-in-law’s business was located. I’ve been going since it opened to eat fresh seafood at the counter at Il Pesce; have a quick lunch at La Pizza & La Pasta; meet friends at Serra Alpina, the rooftop restaurant; and shop for artisanal Italian specialties. Chef Lidia Bastianich organizes culinary experiences and classes here at La Scuola di Eataly.
The diverse cultures and cuisines of a multitude of communities in Los Angeles have been represented at Grand Central Market since 1917. This 30,000-square-foot food emporium in Downtown Los Angeles attracts local cognoscenti who know exactly what to order at the Thai, sushi, taco or deli counter; while folks, like me, walk around amazed at the sheer abundance and variety. It’s a walkable venue from the metro, from parking lots, from The Broad, the Walt Disney Concert Hall and other cultural attractions on South Grand Avenue.
As soon as I reached South Beach, I walked to Time Out Market, just a block south of Lincoln Road and two blocks in from Collins Avenue, past a public parking building. You can find Time Out Markets around the world. This space houses multiple specialty booths, some from top Miami Beach chefs like Norman Van Aken, Jeremy Ford and Michael Beltran; vegan chef Diego Tosoni and pastry chef Antonio Bachour; and all kinds of ethnic, vegetarian and vegan specialties. It’s a perfect place for kids and for folks who want to watch a game and attend a promotional event.
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