Barcelona’s fabulous food market: La Boqueria

So today I’m taking you back to Barcelona to what is probably my favourite bit of a city with so many fabulous parts to it. And you won’t be surprised to hear it involves food! The Mercat de Saint Josep de la Boqueria is possibly the best food market in the world. Well, I’ve not been to a better one and it’s certainly hard to imagine a more magical place packed with tantalising sights and smells.

First mentions of a market here were in 1271 but it wasn’t until 1840 that it was officially agreed to build the structure for what exists today. It’s huge, selling every kind of produce you could desire – fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, offal, olives and preserves, fish, poultry, game, eggs, wine, oils…and there are several tempting-looking bars inside, too.

From the moment I spied (and smelled) the legs of jamon at the entrance I was entranced! The market buzzes with tourists exclaiming over Spanish delights and gasping at some of the other sights (the offal stall doesn’t go down well with most) and locals simply doing their shopping for the day. Here’s some of my favourite stalls in foodie shopping heaven.

jamon

There’s plenty of jamon to taste…I need one of these in my kitchen at home

fruit

This fruit stand doesn’t look real, but it is

seafood2

The beautiful seafood bar, love that it’s all displayed in mini boats

mushrooms

Wild mushrooms to delight, so many of them to choose from!

bar2

One of several bars to quench your thirst at

fish

Fresh fried fish anyone?

veges

Even the vegetables are beautiful, love these lettuces

bar1

Bar Central has plenty of food to tempt you

olives

And of course there are olives, done so many ways

Take time to meander through and buy yourself a picnic, then climb the hill to Gaudi’s Parc Guell to devour your feast. Now that’s a real Barcelona day for me.

You’ll find La Boqueria on Las Ramblas, close to Liceu, Barcelona’s Opera House.

 

Olivar market in Palma – it’s magical

I do love food markets…and boy did I have a treat in store in Palma.

The Olivar covered market is in a class of its own! So many stunning ingredients, so inspiring and a real taste treat, too.

First stop, the oyster bar for a glass of cava and some oysters to get the day off on the right foot. Choose your size (the biggest ones were, well, gigantic) and a squeeze of lemon and a dash of Tabasco and you’re done. I can’t remember tasting fresher oysters, they melted on my tongue. There’s also a range of other seafood available which they will cook for you straight off their stall. Yum!

First stop, oysters and Cava

First stop, oysters and Cava

Now that's what I call breakfast

Now that’s what I call breakfast

The fish counters are overflowing with the freshest of seafood and fish with a massive selection, from miniscule shrimps to juicy lobsters, sardines aplenty, clams, mussels, octopus and all that fabulous Spanish white fish.

The fish stalls are truly spectacular

The fish stalls are truly spectacular

And what can I say about the fruit and vegetables? The displays will take your breath away and good luck choosing what you’re going to take home. I loved the look of these fresh artichokes.

You can't beat the vegetables in Spain

You can’t beat the vegetables in Spain

And then there’s the jamon, loads of it!

The very best of Spanish jamon

The very best of Spanish jamon

My love for tomatoes is well documented, and the different ones in Spain amaze me. They all have different flavours, too.

The glory of Spanish tomatoes

The glory of Spanish tomatoes

At this jamon stand you can sample a plate of his wares. There are different varieties available, simply make your selection and it is sliced in front of you in the traditional way. More food that melts on your tongue, all washed down with a little glass of wine.

jamon3

The sheer variety of produce amazes me, how about these mushrooms?

The sheer variety of produce amazes me, how about these mushrooms?

Tuck into a plate of deliciousness and some Rioja

Tuck into a plate of deliciousness and some Rioja

And, of course, you have to taste the cheeses!

A selection of Menorcan and Manchego cheeses

A selection of Menorcan and Manchego cheeses

Traditional Mallorcian sausage called sobrasada

Traditional Mallorcian sausage called sobrasada

What a market! What an experience! Ostras, Cava, jamon, queso y vino tinto while surrounded by a true wonderland of edible treasures. Now that’s my idea of a beautiful morning.

Special thanks to our lovely friends Dave and Sue who spend a lot of time in Mallorca and volunteered to be our expert guides for the day. Dave certainly knows the foodie secrets of Palma and it was a delight to share them.

Mercat Olivar is open from 7am to 2.30 pm Monday to Saturday and from 2.30pm to 8pm on Friday.

 

Cabo de Palos market: fruit and veg from the Orchard of Europe

After the fabulous fish I simply had to show you some of the amazing fruit and veg that you can get in Murcia. It’s a huge agricultural area which has earned it the nickname “the orchard of Europe” and you can see why every time you go into a shop or visit a market.

The Sunday market at the port of Cabo de Palos is a favourite. Fortified with a cafe con leche and pan con tomate enjoyed sitting overlooking the sea, we head to stock up for the week…and try not to get too carried away.

Start the day with coffee overlooking the harbour

Start the day with coffee overlooking the harbour

Everything gleams in the sunshine and is such great value. Stallholders tempt you in by getting you to taste a sliver of orange or a handful of cherries – one taste and you’re gone! I have to be strong-willed and remember to only buy at the end of the market day as carrying around kilograms of fruit and veg is more exercise than I want when shopping.

Huge red peppers glisten in the sunshine

Huge red peppers glisten in the sunshine

The cheapest, freshest garlic ever? Impossible to resist. As a result of buying such large quantities of ajos I’ve been cooking with it every day. I swear I feel healthier…

Juicy, pungent garlic is sold for 1 euro for 10 bulbs!

Juicy, pungent garlic is sold for 1 euro for 10 bulbs!

Lovely lettuces (cosollos – what a sweet-sounding word).

Or how about 7 lettuces for 1 euro?

Or how about 7 lettuces for 1 euro?

Jumbo asparagus and gnarly tomatoes

Jumbo asparagus and gnarly tomatoes

The juiciest of oranges for just 5 euros for 4kg.

Buy oranges in bulk..fresh juice to start the day

Buy oranges in bulk..fresh juice to start the day

Tomatoes, figs and cherries all in a row. Delicious sweetness.

Figs, cherries and tomatoes

Figs, cherries and tomatoes

Peaches you can smell from about a hundred metres away. They draw you in like a magnet.

Plump peaches piled up  high

Plump peaches piled up high

I truly feel like I’m in fruit and veg heaven when I’m in Murcia. It’s so easy to eat healthily and the variety means you never get bored with your five a day! Oh and the market offers plenty of other shopping opportunities. Clothes, shoes, kitchenware, spices, bags…all at great prices.

And then there’s the final purchase that has to be made – from the chicken rotisserie man. By the time you get there you’re salivating as the aroma of roasting chicken wafts through the market stalls. What’s the last thing we do before we leave the market? Buy a chicken! Yum…

A fabulous food market on the Southbank

When you wake up to a stunning day in London, you simply have to do something special. And as luck would have it, when I woke up yesterday to azure blue skies I knew just where I was going.

The Real Food Market is held on London’s Southbank every Friday to Sunday and offers a fabulous array of stalls spread out around the Festival Hall and along the river. The market’s goal is to feature small producers of fresh, high quality ‘real’ food at affordable prices. This couldn’t be a more different experience from going to the supermarket. Yesterday the market was bustling. It’s fabulous to be able to talk to the producers and let their passion infuse you, so you simply can’t resist buying. Stalls vary a bit week to week but there’s so much on show from curries, chocolates, crepes, cheeses, meat, wraps, bread and deli stalls from different countries around the world. I really can’t explain them all in detail, there’s too much – but here’s a little snapshot.

How's this for a big cheese?

How’s this for a big cheese?

A stall that's guaranteed to get your mouth watering – stunning bruschetta

A stall that’s guaranteed to get your mouth watering – stunning bruschetta

I'm seriously lusting after one of these chopping boards

I’m seriously lusting after one of these chopping boards

Beautiful b

Beautiful bread

Sausage rolls like you've never seen them before

Sausage rolls like you’ve never seen them before, including black pudding and apple

Even better, this week there’s an addition: The Streets of Spain. It’s a mini recreation of the world famous Barcelona food market, La Boqueria.

The Streets of Spain in the middle of London

The Streets of Spain in the middle of London

For me it’s an amazingly comforting feeling to be surrounded by Spanish produce and accents five minutes walk from Waterloo Station. The little market gave you a real feel for Spain, the stalls even seemed to be decked out in the national colours of red and yellow – all in their natural form of course. Cheeses, jamons and other meat, spices, chillis, chocolates, olives, yum!

My favourite...huge legs of jamon

My favourite…huge legs of jamon

Chillis galore

Chillis galore

Beautiful spices exuding the warmth of Spain

Beautiful spices exuding the warmth of Spain

The Streets of Spain is on until this Monday 6 May. The Real Food Fair is on every Friday to Sunday.

A new food market at the Waterfront

So Christmas is over – and already seems a long time ago. Weird how that happens. But it’s still the holiday season and when we visited the Waterfront in Cape Town yesterday it was as busy as I’ve ever seen it. There’s so much going on there and something to please everyone. And now there’s even a brand new food market to visit.

The Market on the Wharf opened on December 5. It’s beautifully done inside with lots of small stalls selling an interesting and amazingly international range of goods. Even things I’d never seen or heard of before, like these chimney cakes.

Transylvanian Hungarian Chimney Cakes - how exotic is that?

Transylvanian Hungarian Chimney Cakes – how exotic is that?

Choose your flavour. I tasted the cinnamon one and it was light and flavoursome

Choose your flavour. I tasted the cinnamon one and it was light and flavoursome

You’ll find cuisines from places like Denmark (hot dogs), Taiwan (dim sums), Germany (sausages and meat), Italy (cheeses and salamis) and Greece. There’s also a Jewish Kosher stall and amazing local produce like biltong, olives, burgers, oysters, fresh juice, coffee and chocolate.

Loads of kosher food to choose from at Berrie's

Loads of kosher food to choose from at Berkie’s

salami

Take your pick from a good range of Italian salamis

A local speciality, the most delicious tasting biltong

A local speciality, the tastiest of biltong from Stokkiesdraai Biltong

There's even a flower stall, who can resist these beautiful proteas?

There’s even a flower stall, who can resist these beautiful proteas?

Tasty gourmet samosas that are freshly made

Tasty gourmet samosas that are freshly made

You can eat there on benches, both inside and outside, but as we’d just had lunch we bought takeaway samosas from the Gourmet Samosa stall and curries (chicken and lamb) from the Durban’s Finest Curry stall for dinner. All curries are made using family recipes passed down through the generations and were tasty with a good chilli hit. Also recommend the samosas, especially the lamb and chickpea ones.

Market on the Wharf really makes food shopping even more fun, and who knows, you might discover something completely different at the same time.

The entrance into the shiny new market. Table Mountain is just on the right

The entrance into the shiny new market. Table Mountain is just on the left

Market on the Wharf is near the aquarium and is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 9.30 to 19.30.

Bulls, markets and Marc at 5am in St Remy

My first guest blogger on my new blog. Welcome Jan Orchard. She wrote about her visit to Arzak in San Sebastian for the previous, destroyed blog and I’m glad to say has agreed to making another appearance. And it’s a real goodie from the town of St Remy in Provence, France.

Visiting St Remy by Jan Orchard

If you ever have the urge to feel like a character in one of Peter Mayle’s novels, take yourself off to St Remy de Provence, sit in the Café Place and watch the passing scene. On market day, you’ll be serenaded by the sounds of Charles Trenet, Edith Piaf and less appealingly Johnny Hallyday from the vintage record stall.

If you want lunch, get there by 12,30 latest – the tables are occupied by robust Provencal types who want to tuck into the plat de jour before it all goes. The plat changes daily – while we were there the choices were moules mariniere featuring fat, juicy mussels from the beds at Sete and brandade de morue (salt cod) with mashed potato and a tomato stew.

This is just an ordinary café but the food is outstanding. We both had hand rolled trofi pasta served with creamy burrata. One dish came with pesto, the other with a rich, full tomato sauce, both were fabulous and over generous. As we ate, we watched a dead ringer for Carla Sarkosy, all pout, high voltage glamour and poker straight hair pick at a beef tartare between puffs on her cigarette (eating exterieur in the South of France means smoking is allowed – even if the exterieur is a veranda). The enfant with her was badly behaved for a French child. Usually when confronted with food, French children stay in their seats, eat up and from time to time comment on the menu. We’ve never recovered from seeing a five year old order and enjoy oysters!  I’ve also eaten salade chevre chaud at Café Place which instead of the usual grilled goats cheese on a croute is a toasted ham and goats cheese sandwich with bayonne ham, fig chutney, sun dried tomatoes and a large salad.

Trofi pasta with pesto and Burrata at Cafe Place

Salad chevre chaud with a difference

St Remy is set at the foot of the Alpilles and is a major area for olives, fruit, tomatoes and Mediterranean vegetables. The Wednesday market is a food lover’s heaven. The narrow streets are packed with stalls selling local olive oil, mountain cheeses, olives, little jewel like boxes of strawberries, redcurrants and other fruits, tomatoes in every colour imaginable, pesto, tapenade, pungent anchoiade, sun dried tomato paste, the ubiquitous Vietnamese nems you see in every French market (a relic of the Colonial past), saucissons, hams and more. The table setting isn’t neglected either – there are dozens of stalls laden with colourful salad bowls and dishes, table linen and the Opinel knives no French countryman can be without – so handy for cutting a piece off a passing cheese or saucisson!

This great olive stall also sells hummus, tapenade, pesto and sun dried tomatoes

Sun dried and fresh Provencal tomatoes with herbs. Heaven.

Cheese, glorious cheese from cows, sheep and goats.

You’re going to need something to carry all your food home in! Go on, buy a new basket.

The porchetta is sold by the glass at this stall

As you walk around the streets, you’ll see signs saying, danger, manifestation taureau. This refers to the annual bull festival  – a spectacular event where the gardien horsemen from the nearby Carmargue come into town with their little black bulls who run through the streets. They take part in a bullfight too – but not the Spanish corrida. The bull gets to chase unarmed young men around the bull ring. One event during the festival features a large pool in the centre of the ring – it is not unknown for the bulls to give up chasing and go and stand quietly in the water instead ! Posters around the town advertise that Ferdinando or wboever from a particular mas (farm) will be appearing – and lists his parents and his and their victories.

St Remy has tourists but is still very much a Provencal town. Get up at 5am and you’ll see workers sitting at the Café Marche with a glass of Marc and a strong coffee. There are designer shops and galleries – but also many beautiful patisseries and delicatessens. On the drive into town there are farms advertising wine, honey or olive oil tastings – well worth a stop.

Stay at Hotel Gounod, right on the main square. Ask for a garden room. Eccentric in the extreme with religious statues and clutter of various sorts everywhere – but very convenient and with parking. For a treat, head to Mas de Carassin which is about a mile outside town. Dinner is a wonderful experience here – there is no menu, everyone has the same four courses but it is delicious – and advertised in the morning so changes can be made if there is something you don’t eat.

Thanks Jan! How amazing does St Remy sound and look? I’m totally sold on the place! The closest big town is Avignon where you can catch a bus there. Oh and Marc is a fearsome spirit made from squashed grapes and stalks after the wine is pressed – a real firewater officially called Pommace Brandy! Who’d have thought I’d learn about a new liquor I hadn’t heard of.

Do you have something you want to share on my blog? I’m always keen to have you help me cover the world of food…so get in touch if you have something to say.