Patong Market – Phuket’s Fresh Food Market

Patong Market – Phuket’s Fresh Food Market

I may love my luxury dining experiences, and relish the opportunity to dine fancy, but I also love to eat local. Eating local, though, starts with understanding local ingredients. The perfect way to start understanding those ingredients is to explore the fresh food markets. But, when traveling to a beach destination, like Phuket, we often spend all of our time enjoying the pool and the ocean view. We never think about touring a food market. That’s why this tour of the Patong market, Phuket’s local fresh food market, was such a treat. Touring Food Markets When Traveling While touring Patong market I was in heaven. There are times when I’m not fond of walking through wet markets in Southeast Asia. Sometimes, they tend to be a little too authentic, and a little too wet. Chau Long market in Hanoi, is a perfect example. Vendors are slicing up meat and dealing with all of the nasty bits. The ground is soaking wet, and splashy. Enough said. It’s in direct comparison to the food markets in Europe. Our favorite is Santa Catarina market in Barcelona, where the market is as functional as it is beautiful. It’s clean, bright, airy, and with lighting perfect for photos. The Patong market in Phuket, fell somewhere in between. I think it was why I was so at home there. The market building is set on two stories. Upstairs, vendors are selling dried goods and cooked food. Downstairs the market was organized, with loads of space to walk around. Stalls were well organized. The entire building was open and airy. At first, I assumed this meant the market was a bit too...
Pastisseria Serra – Catalan Pastry Shop at the Heart of Costa Brava

Pastisseria Serra – Catalan Pastry Shop at the Heart of Costa Brava

We arrived in Costa Brava a little baffled and a little underprepared. In our first week, we had a fishermen’s lunched prepared by a group of chefs, one of whom has a Michelin star restaurant.  We were invited into the home of another Catalan chef, where we met his wife, and his pet goat. We were tasting foods and wines from the Emporda wine region. But we were still learning the ins and outs of Catalunya food and wine, much of it different than the Spanish food we were used to in the rest of the country.  Yeah, we remained a little bit baffled indeed.  Until we spent time with Quique from Pastisseria Serra. We first met Quique at the now famous fishermen’s lunch in Tamariu. Eric sat next to him, conveniently, as Quique is short for Enrique, Eric’s Spanish name from high school. Quique was friendly, and spoke very good English. His dark hair and black rimmed glasses made him seem like a Catalan Matthew Broderick. Although we chatted a bit at the lunch, we did not know his background. During our traditional seafood lunch, when the pastries were displayed for dessert, we learned who Quique was. Quique provided the pastries from his family’s bakery, Pastisseria Serra, in Palafrugell, a nearby town, just in from the coast. The pastries were quite good and traditionally Catalan. Quique asked if we wanted to stop by the shop to learn how to make these Catalan pastries. The Costa Brava hospitality shone through again. Visiting Pastisseria Serra in Palafrugell We arranged to stop by Quique’s shop one day, I thought, to learn how...
Palamos Fish Market and Fishermen’s Auction

Palamos Fish Market and Fishermen’s Auction

Although our lunch at l’Espai del Peix in Palamos was impressive, it was the last day of our three day extreme eating trip through Costa Brava.  We were feeling a little fatigued, and I knew there would have to be something extremely interesting to hold my attention for those final hours.  I worried that a fish market would just not cut it, as we have been to so many fish markets before.  But, the Palamos fish market had something special, something unique, which was certainly a first for us. Seeing the Palamos Fish Market in Action We had just finished a show cooking demonstration at l’Espai del Peix, where the chef cooked up some local Catalan seafood specialties.  There was, of course, wine involved, and dessert.  Although I had a coffee at the end, I was starting to crash. Looking at the itinerary, we only had a few more stops to make before dinner and sleep. The Catalan eating schedule was catching up with me. I had assumed, somewhat naively, that when the itinerary said “Palamos fish market auction” that it would be an explanation of how the auction works, maybe a demonstration.  My fish market experiences have been limited to Asia.  In Tokyo, for example, you have to arrive well before dawn (a time of day we don’t like to see too often) to see any action.  In Palamos, though, the fishing boats arrive in the afternoon after a day on the water.  While enjoying our seafood lunch, I could see the boats pulling into the harbor, the birds swirling overhead hopeful to catch a little scrap of fish. ...
Touring Chau Long Market Hanoi

Touring Chau Long Market Hanoi

Normally, in our digital nomad lives, I would never wander into a Vietnamese wet market a few days before Tet, the Vietnamese lunar new year celebration.  But, after joining our cooking class at the Hanoi Cooking Centre, we toured the nearby Chau Long market.  Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed myself. Chau Long Market is a “wet market,” or a traditional food market, where people shop for their everyday foods.  A wet market is the opposite of a market that sells clothes or toys or other products.  The term wet market can also refer to the fact that I have yet to walk through one where the floor was not wet, from constant rinsing of food remnants.  It is often, not a pretty sight. I love food markets in Europe, and markets like Santa Catarina Market in Barcelona or the Mercato Albinelli in Modena are simply stunning to walk through, to experience.  Everything all clean, and orderly, with lovely lighting, and foods often in a ready to eat form. But wet markets in Southeast Asia are totally different. They are an assault on the senses.  Chau Long Market in Hanoi was no different. Low ceilings, narrow walk ways, poor lighting, it was just like so many other wet markets in Southeast Asia. Being Intimidated by Chau Long Market Chau Long Market is located just north of the Old Quarter in Hanoi, just off of Truc Bac Lake.  We had spent a few days in the neighborhood at a friend’s apartment, and had walked passed the market several times.  Our pho shop and cafe were just a stone’s throw away, at the edge...
Modena Food Market – Mercato Albinelli

Modena Food Market – Mercato Albinelli

I still tend to get a little intimidated by the amazing markets of Europe. Markets like La Boqueria in Barcelona, which receives so much tourist traffic, is an easy market to navigate. Many of the stall owners are used to travelers traversing the narrow walkways snapping photos. It is the more traditional markets, the ones like Mercato Albinelli, the Modena food market, which still intimidate me. Anytime that I am in a foreign country and I am treading on the daily activities of locals with my camera in hand, I worry that I am creating a spectacle of their lives. I never want to interfere and I am always hesitant, until I get an okay or a nod. It is not because people are defensive, on-guard or anti-tourist in any way. Instead, it is my own insecurity as a photographer and an observer of other cultures.  In the Modena food market though, this was certainly not a problem. I don’t think it is because Modena is such a well-touristed city. The opposite is the case, as Modena remains a city that is truly Italian and virtually untouched by the tourism that affects cities like Rome.  I believe the Modena food market is so approachable because Emilia Romagna is a region of die hard foodies, and has been since well before the phrase foodie became popular. The region is one that focuses on local products, and excels in retaining their food history. And they know it.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the historic Modena food market.  Exploring the Modena Food Market As far as markets in Europe go, the Modena food market is not huge. It...
Midnight Tuk Tuk Tour With Bangkok Food Tours

Midnight Tuk Tuk Tour With Bangkok Food Tours

I was recently asked, by two different people, what is my favorite restaurant in Bangkok.  It’s a stumper, really.  This is not only because there is still part of me that is intimidated by Bangkok, and its food scene.  It is mostly because we have focused so much on eating nothing but street food in Bangkok, easily one of the best cities in the world for cheap street eats.  That’s why we jumped at the chance to take a midnight tuk tuk tour with Bangkok Food Tours, to explore the city at night through some of its most famous street eats in a famous form of transportation. Heading Out For a Midnight Tuk Tuk Tour We met our midnight food tour group at the Chidlom BTS station just before 8pm. Within minutes we were down on the main road, and hopping into the back of our assigned tuk tuk, a makeshift cart pulled on the back of a motorbike.  Our driver was pleasant, and although we sat in some traffic at the start, he soon began to pick up speed, taking corners on a rail, where at times I thought I would fall out the side.  Luckily, there was a net up to prevent that from happening.  I did not care, I was excited to be exploring the city in a new way. The goal of the midnight tuk tuk tour was two fold: 1) explore Bangkok at night; and 2) to track down the best local eats, and that is just what we got from Bangkok Food Tours.  I was not sure which part I was most excited...
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