Vibrant Foodie Markets for Grey Day-Dreaming
With all the weather we've been having, we've been arguing about what we'd rather be faced with. Soggy as it may be, we'd opt for 'mild and rainy' over 'dry but minus seven' or 'washing machine on spin' any day (we're looking at YOU, every Tuesday of the year so far).
But then again, when it's rainy, we're desperately trying to keep the dog's paws out of the churned-up mud and whatever canine terrors the press says is lurking within it. The stress of it all. So there's a little rain? We'll have sunny days again soon.
On the greyer days, we turn to our very own World Market Wishlist - basically compiled of places we want to go or remember fondly for food, vibes and creative inspiration (not forgetting a little fun and relaxation as well) - and that's a cert to brighten up our outlooks. We particularly love how different market concepts create totally different visitor experiences. Here are a few of our top picks:
For COSY IN THE CITY
Chelsea Market in New York's Meatpacking District (shown above in pumpkin season - cosy vibes abound) is housed in the winding corridors of an old biscuit factory, and munching your way through all its delis, eateries and retailers is a good day spent in surprise and delight. The red brick-lined labyrinth fills you with life and flavour as you find your way to the next treat by way of wholesome food, music, books and quirky homewares. Crowded, yes, but cosy too - it's a heartwarming experience with a hint of hipster.
For A MODERN MEETING PLACE
Urban Portugal is renowned for looking backwards and forwards to bring out the best in both. You only have to visit Lisbon once to understand - the carefully preserved backdrop of ancient and crumbling corners teamed with cool interiors and experimental foodie fusions. Mercado da Ribeira is a must-see for its take on the modern food market - a 13th century city staple revived with a new identity courtesy of Time Out, it has a strong feeling of celebration; celebrating centuries-old traditions, and creating new ones, together. The market is a careful curation of some of the city's best-loved producers and traders whose stalls flank long communal tables placed in a central 'canteen'. These benches form the beating heart of a stylish social foodie experience where friends and strangers meet, taste and share.
For GROUNDED GOURMET
For provenance and originality with a down-to-earth atmosphere, Borough Market in London is a mecca for any foodie who loves the creative process from farm to fork. Passion for the produce is what puts professionals, amateurs and food-lovers on the same page, and every trader has a story and influence that will intrigue you. The tucked-away location below railway lines and in arches evokes something very 'rooted' about this special place.
For COLOUR AND CULTURE
With its acutely sensory displays of colour, aroma and flavour, Barcelona's historic market, La Boqueria, also has mind-boggling 13th Century origins and is as popular and bustling as ever. The displays are key - produce crammed and cascading from every stall, ingredients hung and draped to create a kaleidoscopic scene. Full of interesting characters and so very 'real', it truly is one for the bucket list. Take a look at this wonderful walkthrough; it says more than we ever could.
Video: Tour & Info Barcelona
For UNRIVALLED ATMOSPHERE
The craic is always 'ninety' at St George's Market in our beloved Belfast, and anytime we're over that way we make a beeline for its outstanding local food, live music and cafe culture. From small to large, traditional to experimental and everyone in between, the food producers are out in force at this charming Victorian markethall with exciting and fabulous quality foodstuffs.
As Belfast has been named the top place to visit this year by Lonely Planet, it's a good year to visit if you haven't had the good fortune to do so already, or simply visit again to experience the buzz anew!