Mercat de la Boqueria Barcelona

I know it has been a long time since I posted something, due to traveling but I’m back! Well, back in Barcelona! I have been in Barcelona for exactly a week now and I can honestly say this is one of my top 3 favourite cities in the world. Of course I had to visit the market La Boqueria the first day and I have with no exception, gone back every single day to buy fruit, vegetables, talk to people, walk around and just admire the amazing atmosphere and arraign of food. I would love to share the pictures I made and a few of the stands I went back to everyday. If you would like to see more of a story about the market itself and the people I talked let me know! But for now, here is snapshot into my idea of heaven on earth!

 

(little tip if you have to opportunity to visit this market for yourself, stay away from the centre and walk through the outer stalls. Not only are there a lot more people in the centre, but also the pricier will be double. In addition, these marketeers are more likely to get into a conversation with you about their food, which is always fun)

 

IMG_5170This is how the main entrance looks like, however if you want to avoid the crowed there are also two side entrances; one on the right (next to Wok to Walk) and one on the left as well.

 

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Beautiful and very affordable greens! This is the stand (if you go through the main entrance turn right and it will be one of the first you see) where i have been buying most of my leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables.

 

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This might be my favourite stand (located at the  back of the market), it has the most incredible selection of (dried) mushrooms and herbs. (The next three photos are from this stand as well)

 

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Cheapest strawberries ever and mouthwateringly good. I have had 1 kilo of them for every breakfast for the last 5 days,

 

 

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Marché Notre-Dame Halles Versailles

Last weekend my little sister, my dad and I went to paris!! We had an amazing time and of course we saw the beautiful monuments, but we also ate a lot of delicious food. Although Paris is already pretty amazing, we also decided to visit Versailles for one day, because we really wanted to explore the big food market over there. It was such a nice an authentic market and even though it was raining a bit, we had a great time. I actually enjoyed it so much, that I forgot to really take pictures and the few pictures I do have are not that good of a quality. Nonetheless I still wanted to share my experience at this market.

 

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There were all kind of different stalls, which were located on the square, but there were also some stalls inside the halls that surrounded the square. We basically went through the market and bought little things along the way. What surprised me was the wide variety of fruits and vegetables available and also the high quality of the foods. Almost all the foods were locally grown, and probably also organic. There was this one stall, with an African family selling all different kinds foods, which I had never seen before. So of course as I am terribly curious I bombarded them with questions about the foods they had and they were kind enough to answer all of them. What i found especially interesting was this food you see in picture below

 

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I had no idea what it could be, it looked like a pepper or maybe a pumpkin. It turned out to be a wild African aubergine! I love the way that they all had different shapes and colours, which often means that they are wild or at least locally grown. There was also this weird kind of greenish vegetable, to me it looked almost like a could or bumpy mango of some sort, but according to the lady it was a variety of zucchini. I wish I had taken a picture of it as well, but as I mentioned earlier I was to busy enjoying myself.

 

Then there was this other stall, where they had the most delicious looking strawberries, also they were all different kinds. The marketer explained that they were all different crossings of strawberries, we ended up getting this variety that had a spicy flavour, like some had sprinkled cayenne pepper on top. We also got some that were a cross-breed with forest strawberries, so they were very sweet and a little smaller. While she was packing those up, I noticed they also had some passionfruit, which I had not had in a while, so I asked for some of those as well. Then, as a great seller always does, she recommended me a different kind of passionfruit; granadilla, I had never seen it before and of course she talked me into buying them. I am so happy I did! They might be one of my top five favorite fruits now. They are from the same family as your “ordinary”  purple passionfruit, but instead they have a yellow-orange colour, are slightly bigger, less wrinkled and their flavour is just heavenly. It taste like a pineapple, melon, apple, lime, mangosteen and a gooseberry. Sorry but there is no other way I could describe it’s fresh and sweet flavour. It turns out they sell them everywhere in Paris and in Belgium as well, so the last days in Paris I ate as many as I could.

 

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After devouring those strawberries and granadilla, we past this stunning tomato stand. It had all different kinds of tomatoes; small, big, green, yellow, round and every other shape. My dad got into a conversation with him and he told us about his passion for tomatoes and that he is quite mad at the dutch people from shipping their tomatoes everywhere. He explained us which tomato you could use best for what dish and we ended up with a bag full of all the different varieties he had. My favourite kind were the small round, dark-greenish tomatoes you can see in picture below.

 

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There where many more delicious foods, especially the mushrooms (those morels were the biggest I had ever seen) and also the asparagus, were exceptional. What I noticed was that all the sizes of the foods are the market differed a lot from the sizes of the foods I find here in Holland. For example the cantaloupes in Holland are quite big and have a lot of lines, however those at the market in Versailles were very small. On the other had their artichokes, potatoes and asparagus were massive compared to the ones in Holland.

 

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I could write a lot more, but I think I will leave it here. Hopefully I can come back one day and do a more in dept story on this market with some better quality pictures. If anyone has any questions about the market you can send me a message via email.

 

 

LOCATION AND OPENING HOURS

Halles de Versaillles

Carré à la Farine 

78000 Versailles France

Tuesday and Saturday from 07:00 until 19:30

Sunday from 07:00 until 14:00

NeighborFood Market and Instock Amsterdam

Last Sunday I went to the wonderful Neighborfood Market in Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam. However this market is not like the ones I usually go to, this market is more like a big kitchen with different stalls from cafe’s and kitchens preparing delicious food that you can eat right away. It is a good way for starting companies to present themselves, it also a great chance for online food services to give people a real taste of their food.

 

During my yoga practice in the morning I had worked up an appetite and I tried plenty of the amazing dishes. I especially love the cactus, bean and guacamole salad from the Food for Thought stall and the freshly prepared asian spring roll from a different stall.

 

 

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Even though I was fully satisfied afterwards I had to go to the Instock pop up restaurant, located on the same Westergas terrain! I have heard and read much on this company and I completely support their efforts. Instock is a company that every morning collects the surplus food from the supermarket Albert Heijn and with these foods the chefs make up the menu of the day. The foods are not expired but perhaps fruit and vegetables that didn’t make the supermarket’s standard or bread that is one day old. For example this day they had a brunch platter of the day with couscous with tomato and onion, apple cake, bruschetta and some other small dishes, all for only 10 euros. They will have this pop up store until May 17 and then they will move to somewhere in East Amsterdam, also they have a Toko on the Pijp at the Ferdinand Bolderstraat in Amsterdam and if that’s not enough they also have a truck (and transformed old fire-fighter truck!) with which they go to food festivals and different towns in the Netherlands.

 

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©2014 Julien L. Balmer, all rights reserved
VISUALSPECTRUM photography | Bangkok & Zürich 

After working in an organic store in Amsterdam for a while, I got so upset with all the good produce and bread we had to throw away almost daily! For example if we had a deal on the bananas that week, we would stock them up, but at the end of the week we would have so much left over and what ever the employees wouldn’t take him would go into the trash! It so frustrating that when perfectly ripe and soft mangoes get thrown out just because it doesn’t meet the supermarkets standards anymore, I mean it is still perfectly edible even though it doesn’t look as “perfect”. So when I find organizations like Instock, I will try to support them as much as I can. Besides that I sometimes ask for the manager in a supermarket and tell them that I would be more than happy to take their “overripe” and “ugly” produce or “old” bread for a fraction of the original price, so that they don’t have to waste it. Often they are hesitant to give it away, because they are not sure if they are allowed to do that or do not know for how much to sell the food. However ones in a while they are glad to give it to me for half the price or sometimes even for free! So don’t hesitate to try this yourself and enjoy produce when it is, perhaps not as perfectly round, straight or bright, but just as delicious.

 

I hope that in the future we will find a purpose for these foods or that supermarket lower the standards and do not fuss over a cucumber that isn’t straight or a carrot that isn’t bright orange. The foods I buy from my local market come in all shapes and colours and they taste just fine, if not even better.

 

This week’s food

This week’s food from our market, not as much as usual so this won’t last us all week. Usually we will get some extra fresh food in the middle of the week. Also tomorrow we will be going to Neighbour Food Market in Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam, so we will probably get some more good food there.

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In Season Now

If you are thinking of getting a better relationship with food, in general, the first thing you should do is; eating more seasonally. At first this might seem less important than other changes you could make like; eating less factory farmed meat, eating more whole foods or stop eating processed food. However the thing is, as soon as you start eating seasonally, you automatically do those things. If you eat according to season, most processed foods become, well, absent. It is not like we only get Oreos in winter or that in summer Ben and Jerry ice-cream is at its peak “ripeness”. Also I have never heard of chicken-season??

Isn’t that to complicated?? Remembering all those charts when what vegetable or fruit is season when and if you’re not able to do that, doing your groceries at your supermarket with one of those charts in your hand, checking with every food you put in your cart if it is or isn’t in season. I mean most of us do not have time or interest in such a thing. So how are you going to put this to practice? Here is where markets come in handy; when you go to your local market and head over to your fruit and vegetable stall, it is easy to spot what is in season, because that is what is abundantly and low-priced layed out. And what is not in season, will be either very hard to find or ridiculously expensive. No charts or grocery list needed, you just go and get what they have, easily done.

Eating seasonally will not only give you the most nutrient rich foods, but will also spark your creativity as you will have to change what you eat every few months. In weekends, I often do not plan my meals ahead, but get inspired by what is in season. For example, last weekend I saw that our stall had bunches and bunches of green asparagus for little money. So I bought those and built the following two meals around asparagus.

 

 

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Having said that, I still feel it might be helpful for some people to get an idea of what is in season at the moment;

 

VEGETABLES

Artichoke

Asparagus

Avocado

Beets

Broccoli

Cabbage

Carrots

Cauliflower

Fava Beans

Kale

Mushrooms

Peas

Radishes

Rhubarb

Spinach

Sweet potatoes

Turnips

Courgette 

 

FRUITS

Blood

Oranges

Grapefruit

Kiwi

fruits

Mangoes

Pineapple

Strawberries