Tag Archives: Market

Eating the World at the Queens Night Market

We were lucky enough to visit the Queens Night Market when we went to New York this July, our first trip outside of the Midwest since October 2019 (when we last visited New York, incidentally). The 100% outdoors Night Market is held weekly on Saturdays at Flushing Meadows Park, next to the New York Hall of Science (site of both the 1939 and 1964 New York World’s Fairs). You can purchase $5 tickets in advance for admission at any time during the night (currently 6 to midnight). The Fair is slated to run until October this year, though it would be wise to check for updates.

Visually, the Queens Night Market looks like your typical outdoor food fair, with several rows of tented booths and signs advertising their wares. However, the type of food on offer was nothing like the average food festival, and we were absolutely floored by the scope and variety. The restaurants and catering companies featured were selected for their international flavors, and dozens of countries were represented on the night we visited, from Belize to Burma. We were most pleased that we got two new countries under our belt in one shot: Sudan and Antigua & Barbuda. Each booth had a short menu of offerings, most ranging from $5 to $10, making it one of the most reasonable eating options in NYC.

The Sudanese booth – Sambuxa NYC – had a truncated menu featuring meat and vegetable sambuxas, lending their name to the restaurant. Sambuxas are the East African cousins of Indian samosas, deep-fried phyllo dough pockets full of savory fillings, brought to Sudan through trans-Indian Ocean migration. These surprisingly-light, tasty morsels came served with two sauces: yogurt and garlic.

The Antiguan & Barbudian booth, La’Maoli had a large variety of dishes representing the small island nation. The codfish fritters, rum bread pudding, and blood sausage all looked enticing, but we settled on the ducuna and saltfish, which was was billed as one of the national dishes of Antigua & Barbuda. Ducuna is made with sweet potato and is something akin to a slightly-sweet Caribbean take on a tamal. Along with the ducuna and saltfish was a generous helping of sauteed greens and veggies, also known as chop-up. The key to this super-flavorful dish was getting each of the components together in one bite, the resulting combo was an explosion of sweet, salty, and savory tastes.

Bangladesh was well-represented at Jhal NYC, where we sampled Jhal Muri, a puffed rice snack mix filled with contrasting salty, tart and spicy flavors. However, our absolute favorite dish of the night was the classic Peruvian ceviche from Don Ceviche. We couldn’t believe the price: a made-to-order, restaurant-sized amount of high-quality ceviche for just $6! This was a delectable dish with tender fish, a citrus-filled tiger’s milk marinade, all topped with the requisite accoutrements of sweet potato, onions, and choclo (XL dried corn kernels).

There were a variety of sweet options at the Night Market as well, which as you know is one of our weaknesses. We loved Moon Man‘s avant-garde Southeast Asian sweets. We sampled an enticingly-green steamed pandan cake that had a light, citrus-forward flavor. Moon Man was also selling jarred versions of some of their wares, including their pandan, ube and original Kaya Jam. Another surprise for us were the hard-to-find-in-the-US pasteis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts) from Joey Bat’s Cafe. Even in the inhospitable format of an open-air booth, these tarts were delicious! For those seeking a cooler treats, bubble tea and Filipino Halo-Halo were also on offer.

The best part of the night market was that, in a single place, you could sample dishes from around the world for a shockingly reasonable price. We enjoyed trying old favorites and new-to-us dishes, and our group was happy with the variety, including the ample options for vegans and vegetarians. Granted, some of the more popular booths had lines, which only grew as the night went on, but they moved relatively fast. Towards the end of the night we were getting pretty full, and therefore were not able to sample everything, including the two most popular booths: Treat Yourself Jerk Chicken and Gi Hin Mama Food (Squid & Lamb Skewers).

If you are planning to visit the Queens Night Market, we recommend perusing the list of vendors in advance so you can note which ones will be must-dos. The vendors also appear to change from week to week, so some of my picks may not be there when you visit, though many vendors also have physical locations scattered throughout the city. It is also worth it to check out the line-up of live entertainment, when we were there we enjoyed the all-female Brazilian samba drumming group Batalá. If you won’t be in NYC and are looking for a taste of the Queens Night Market they even have a recipe book featuring some recipes from the Night Market, The World Eats Here. We hope to visit again next year!

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Photo Tour of Borough Market in London


Borough

englandThere is nothing we love more than a good market, and London has them in spades. Borough Market is one of the largest and oldest markets in London, and the current iconic glass and metal structure was originally built in 1851, and after additions over the years it was refurbished at the beginning of the 21st century into its current form. Though it was originally a wholesale market, Borough Market today is a mishmash of food stalls selling everything from fresh fruit to meat pies to olive oil to tapas under one roof. Though we are always fans of food from all over the world, it was especially great to see all of the local British foodstuffs available for sale, especially the cheeses. We pieced together a light meal (very reasonably priced for London) from various stalls, after wandering around and taking in all the sights and smells.

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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.
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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).
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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.

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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.

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A Photo Tour of Mercado 20 de Noviembre in Oaxaca

Mexico FlagOne of our favorite things to do when we are new to a city is to visit the local market. When we were in Oaxaca we were extremely excited to visit the Mercado 20 de Noviembre (20th of November Market), which came highly recommended. What is special about this market is that it specifically dedicated to food. When you enter you are greeted right away with full-service food stalls that will make you mole, caldos, quesadillas and other dishes right to order. Navigating the swirl of tantalizing smells, we settled on a booth that had a crowd, where we sampled a delicious chicken in mole rojo and turkey in mole negro (one of the signature dishes of Oaxaca). Some of the stalls have printed menus, and others have handwritten menus tacked above the stalls. You can be assured that pretty much any restaurant with a small crowd is good, since the competition is so fierce. As you wander around the stalls you can also buy freshly-baked bread and cookies and fried plantains to snack on. In addition to the freshly-prepared foods, you can pick up mole paste, chocolate, dried peppers and other ingredients to try your hand at the same recipes at home. Around the perimeter of the market were artisans selling crafts like tin ornaments, mirrors and woven baskets. We had a great time visiting the different stalls and eating our way around the market, and it was a perfect way to dip a toe into Oaxaca’s culinary waters.

Oaxaca

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A Photo Tour of London’s Brixton Market

united_kingdomWhere can you find a hipster coffee house alongside a shop selling African waxprint cloth and stalls selling Caribbean produce and Jamaican flag cellphone covers? Brixton Market! Brixton Market in South London is one of the more unique market conglomerations we have ever come across, and we loved every minute of it. Upon exiting the Brixton tube stop you are almost immediately plunged into a bustling market atmosphere, seven days a week. There are actually two parts to the market, the open air stalls lining the streets and the covered market arcade areas. One of these covered areas, “Brixton Village,” has more permanent little shops and restaurants with seating that overflows outside. There is a heavy Caribbean influence in Brixton, but you will find global gems from all over the world alongside Jamaican and Trinidadian food and produce, including Portuguese and Indian grocery stores. Though the market is open daily, there are special theme days, and even a flea market. Here’s a little photo tour of what it is like to walk through Brixton Market on a sunny but brisk Friday afternoon.

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Exploring the Camden Lock Global Food Market

united_kingdom Many visitors to London, so we are told, cap their trip with a leisurely boat ride along the Thames – a journey which, surely, will take you to some fine culinary destinations. But – and this knowledge is thanks to a trip from our well-traveled friend Robin – London also possesses a series of small navigable canals in the central and northern parts of the city. You can ride, as we did, a British longboat from the back of Paddington Station to the Camden Lock, a leisurely ride through London’s “Little Venice” that took us by grand estates, leafy parks and an assortment of floating homes and cafes. And, prize of prizes, the boat will drop you off at what may be one of our favorite food markets ever: Camden Lock Market.

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Camden Lock Market is large, with a wide range of stores, restaurants, and shops that can get very crowded and touristy. But at this end, nearest to the boat dock, you find “Global Kitchen,” which features a plethora of appealing and appetizing food stalls around a gridded series of walkways. Even at the odd hour of 3 pm, this place was jam packed (the market is open 10am-6pm most days). Our first reaction? Overwhelming. It took half an hour just to find all the options available: Japanese noodles, Argentine grilled meats, Peruvian snacks, West African meals, kielbasa, vegan wraps, paella, cookies, piadina, and more. Everything- and we mean everything- looked good!???????????????????????????????

Choices, choices. L finally opted for South African bunny chow at Boerie en Bunny (£5.5). Operated by a woman who wins the award for genuinely nicest person we have ever met, Boerie en Bunny serves South African curries and fish stews over your choice of rice or “Bunny Chow” – a hollowed out roll (bun – get it?), stuffed with your order. We went with a rich and deeply flavorful spicy goat curry, topped with yogurt and fresh cilantro – a choice that was only made after our amiable friend forced us to try all the options she had available, and then asked us to stay just to taste a her seafood stew (fantastic, and very reminiscent of a Brazilian moqueca).

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Next, we opted to reminisce about our 2011 Istanbul trip with a Turkish lahmacun at Istanbul lahmacun (£5), a pizza-esque dish topped with ground lamb. Lahmacun are a very popular street snack in Istanbul, and we had the good fortune to try a few while were there. The stall owner, from Istanbul herself (authenticity points!) was very happy to learn we enjoyed her hometown, and eager to talk about her life experiences and food in London. The good food matched the owner’s ambiability: our lahmacun was huge, covered in ground lamb, yogurt and veggies, which made for a filling and delicious main course.

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Finally, for dessert we had one dozen Dutch poffertjes (aka “Dutch Pancakes”; £3.5) from a stall of the same name. These little puffs have the appearance of mini dough UFOs or slightly flattened donut holes. The gentleman manning the stall (see photo below) was a complete pro: flipping the poffertjes in the special pan at a lightning speed with a pair of chopsticks. Of course we could not resist topping them with Nutella.

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We ate a lot of street food in London, but the Camden Lock Market was our hands-down favorite! If you are looking for cheap, good food in London you absolutely must go. You can get there by tube, but the boat is even more fun.

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A Visit to the Mercado de Antojitos in Coyoacán, Mexico City

Mexico FlagToday is Mexican Independence Day, so what better day to talk about some Mexican street food classics? While in Mexico City we enjoyed a lot of amazing street food including a quest to find the perfect tacos al pastor (post forthcoming). However, for the most delicious street food in the smallest space under a single roof, Coyoacán’s street food market, the Mercado de Antojitos, is a veritable one stop shop for low-key, delicious, authentic, friendly and cheap food.

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Part of the major draw, beyond the food of course, is the market’s location in the historical and charming Coyoacán neighborhood in Southern Mexico City. With its cobbled streets and faded mansions, you will feel like you’ve stepped into another era (before Mexico City engulfed it, it was in fact its own town). The Anotjito Market is tucked into a side street near the main square of Coyoacán. There are about a dozen stalls inside, each ringed with stools or benches. This is definitely not a touristy place, and the food is so good – and turnover so high – there isn’t much need for hawking or up-selling.  People of all ages packed the stalls, and for added liveliness, a guitar band entertained.

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We were spoiled for choice by all of the antojitos (literally “little cravings”): so what did we get? One of the most popular dishes on offer was the quesadilla, which means something different that it does in English parlance  (no cheese!). Due to their prevalence and popularity among the market patrons, we knew we had to choose a quesadilla. The quesadillas we tried were deep fried and stuffed with huitlacoche, one of our favorite Mexican flavors. Huitlacoche is technically a corn fungus, and tastes something like a truffle!

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Another popular choice for sale was pozole, a hearty stew made from hominy and pork, which was especially delicious on a somewhat dreary and rainy day. For a little Vitamin C, you can also get your fill of fresh squeezed juices in flavors like strawberry and papaya. Beyond its role in pozole and in the tortillas, corn is king at the market, and for an even purer corn experience try a thick cornmeal drink (atole) or a cup of corn kernels with epazote (esquite). The prices are also very reasonable, so you can get more than a meal’s worth for only a few dollars. A market full of street foods is potentially one of our favorite concepts – and the Mercado de Antojitos definitely did not disappoint.

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A Visit to “Delícias do Porto” Street Food Market in Salvador da Bahia

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July 2nd (Dois de Julho) is celebrated as Independence Day in Salvador da Bahia, and was considered the definitive end of Portuguese rule in 1823, so it’s the perfect day to celebrate Bahian food! Bahia has great street food, and you can find wonderful Acarajé on nearly any corner, so what could be better than an Acarajé stand surrounded by tons of other great eats? On Friday evenings during the summer (December – April in the southern hemisphere) there is a great street market put on by the Instituto Mauá in the neighborhood of Porto da Barra in Salvador called “Delícias do Porto (Delicacies of the Port)” Though the summer is now over in Brazil, it appears to be a yearly event, so check back for further updates. We highly recommended this fair for its variety, and for bringing a little culinary nightlife to the Porto da Barra area, which can feel empty during the evening hours.

???????????????????????????????You can recognize the market by its characteristic yellow booths, which seem to pop up out of nowhere on Fridays. In addition to food, there are also artisans selling traditional crafts as well as jewelry, clothes and other items. However, of course for us, the draw was the food! There was all sorts of Bahian food for sale: street favorites like BeijusAbará, Queijo coalho, Acarajé – and even some things less commonly found in street stalls – Sarapatel, Bolo de Aipim and Xinxim. In between all of the stalls is a large, open seating area, so eating your food at a leisurely pace is encouraged.

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The Xinxim (whick we had before, but in reference to a VERY different dish) was made of ground nuts, dendê (palm) oil, coconut milk, okra and shrimp. Though perhaps not the most visually appealing dish, we loved the unusual combination of savory flavors. Don’t forget to add the hot sauce and dried shrimp!
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Of course no outdoor market in Bahia would be complete without Acarajé – the trusty black-eyed pea fritter that is pure “Bahia.” This one was from Dona Emilia (whose booth is there even when the whole fair is not), and was cooked fresh to order. Everything at the fair was very reasonably priced, and we couldn’t think of a better way to spend a balmy evening – watching the sunset and washing down our Acarajé with some Guaraná soda in hand.

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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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