04 Jul2006

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With the neighborhood food vendors having such spectacularly varied and fresh produce offerings, my expectations for the Mercato Centrale (Central Market) were growing by the minute. Located on the fringe of Florence (meaning a tad more than a 10 minute walk from the Ponte Vecchio), the main market of Florence did not disappoint at all. A two level market with meats, cheeses, florists, baked goods, merc2cooked foods on the first floor and the produce, dried fruits, bottled items such as grappa and limoncello on the second floor, I was totally overwhelmed with the variety and quality of goods on offer. Though not as impressive or photogenic as La Boqueria in Barcelona, this was nonetheless spectacular. The soaring metal roof left a large airy space on the second floor and the spacious aisles and well-lit ground floor made for a very pleasant stroll within the market premises. Again, for this post, I will let the photos do most of the talking… Up top were dried porcini mushrooms, which were sold in “grades” that meant that the largest finest grade was roughly Euro 10 per 100 grams or Euro 100 per kilo. The finer or smaller mushrooms or broken bits went for as low as Euro 4 for 100 grams. I purchased some of the dried porcini and they vacuum packed the mushrooms so they would stay fresh and would be easy to pack! I was also thrilled to find the last of the blood oranges on offer. Delicious orange taste with an unusual blood red/orange color…

I noticed that my photos seemed to have skipped most of the first floor of the market…I merc3must have had trouble regaining equilibrium after entering the place… but suffice it to say that there were meat vendors galore, salumerias up the wazoo, cheese places, prepared foods, etc. that would want to make you weep if they forcibly dragged you out of the market for some strange reason, like you weren’t wearing the proper shade of orange that was the color of the season… If I died and were reincarnated as a fly (assuming I was wicked in my present life), I would want to be a fly at the Mercato Centrale in Florence!

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Just part of the stunning cheeses on offer…

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They had stalls with just cookies, meringues and sweets… so popular was one stall they sold t-shirts with the name of the store on it!

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The flower selection was not bad…

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…fennel was spectacular and dirt cheap…

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…the melons some of the sweetest I have ever tasted and look at that color…

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…eggplants so vividly purple no paint could approximate it…

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…garlic so fresh that the stems were still green…

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…freshly dried oregano from sicily…

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…and of course some limoncello to end any meal you prepared from the fantastic produce you could have purchased at the Mercato Centrale!

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COMMENTS:

  1. Jean says:

    Lucky you MM. I’ve only traveled Venice at night. Had to head back to Germany so didn’t get to fully take in what Italy had to offer. Someday I shall. ;) Maybe my oldest would like to take a back pack trip on his own to see what Europa is all about. It’ll open his eyes. :)

    Jul 4, 2006 | 8:46 am

     
  2. millet says:

    ooohhhh…i can see how easy it is to lose one’s bearings and just go totally gaga over everything. i would loooove to be photographed between the hunks…….of raclette and parmigiano!

    Jul 4, 2006 | 4:10 pm

     
  3. Doddie Householder from Korea says:

    Sigh, I envy you. I have around most of Asia but never set foot in Europe or the US. If I do have a chance to travel Europe, I’m definitely taking it.

    Jul 4, 2006 | 6:21 pm

     
  4. mia says:

    MM, my husband and I will be in Australia next week and will have about a day or two each in Melbourne and Sydney to look around. We plan to buy a cooler there and hoard some food. Any places you can recommend? Maybe places like this market–where everything is pretty much in one place?

    Jul 5, 2006 | 11:15 am

     
  5. mia says:

    Oh and maybe Sydney is the place we’ll do the hoarding (that’s where we’re departing for Manila), I don’t think it makes much sense to lug food around for days in Melbourne, does it? Any tips will be much appreciated. Thanks, MM!

    Jul 5, 2006 | 11:17 am

     
  6. Marketman says:

    Mia, OMIGOSH, you must plan a morning at the Queen Victoria market…find out the best weekdays if you can’t make it for Saturday morning…stroll the produce section, buy cold cuts, check out the meat building, the cheeses, semi-dried tomatoes, etc. The Victoria market is one of my favorite markets in the world, period. I am not so aware of the markets in Sydney but ask around, I’m sure they have good ones. Unfortunately, you are there at the height of winter, produce will be less spectacular than usual! Bring boxes and boxes of fruit home. Oddly, they have superb mangoes, they have terrific berries, etc. Enjoy!

    Jul 5, 2006 | 11:31 am

     
  7. mia says:

    MM, ohhh that sounds good. Saturday morning is definitely out, unless our hotel is very near Queen Victoria :( Now to figure out the logistics of hoarding all that food…Thanks so much for the tip!

    Jul 5, 2006 | 7:38 pm

     
  8. Wilson Cariaga says:

    Markets are really the first place you should visit when you go somewhere. . . it really gives you some cultural background, etc.

    Jul 6, 2006 | 7:50 am

     
  9. Corrine says:

    My first encounter with blood oranges was in our breakfast table in our hotel in Florence. I looked at them suspiciously and I thought they were defective or something. haha
    Dried porcini mushrooms were a good take home. I recreated the veal in porcini mushrooms we had in a little family restaurant at the back of our hotel. really gooood!

    Jul 26, 2006 | 11:52 pm

     
  10. Patty says:

    During my 8 day stay in Florence, I was at Mercato Central 5 days – to lunch at the Nerbone food stall (Karinderia style) where you order the putahe of the day (ribolitta was the best) and a glass of vino. It was ‘cheap eats’ in Florence. Then you sit with strangers- at this fast food- molto bene! Your photos bring back the memories. Salamat.

    Aug 31, 2007 | 1:02 am

     
 

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