Friday, January 23, 2009
Cleveland's West Side Market
If you're ever in Cleveland, and you are interested in food, you MUST visit the West Side Market. If I had a market like this in my city, I would never set foot in a supermarket again. This place has everything I need in the way of food, and it's all spectacularly fresh and good quality.
First of all, baked goods. I have never seen so many gorgeous baked goods in one place. Breads, cakes, pies, pastries, sweet and savory. Each stall was more beautiful than the last. I like to bake my own bread, but if I had a West Side Market, I wouldn't bother. There's no type of home baked bread you can't find.
Meats. Now, as you know I don't eat meat, but there is a huge array of butcher stalls with all kinds of fresh meat. Lots of home made sausages, big thick sliced bacon, all kinds of steaks and chops and ground stuff, and some huge whole dead animals. I was a bit grossed out by the meat, but I can imagine that if you were a carnivore and liked to cook meat, this would be a paradise.
Cheese! There were 4 or 5 outstanding cheesemongers. (I love the -monger suffix.) I was stymied by the selection, and ended up with a huge hunk of Petit Basque and a hunk of Stilton.
Produce. The produce has its own big L-shaped wing. The stalls are jam packed with fresh fruits, veggies and flowers. If I weren't an out-of-towner I'd have stocked up big time. Everything was super fresh and the prices were great. The selection was, once again, huge and ranged from the mundane to the exotic.
I bought some Lebanese olive oil from this Lebanese lady. Her shop is called The Olive and the Grape, and they have a satellite stall at this market. She recommended this olive oil to me because she is friends with the family in Lebanon who owns the olive grove from which this oil is produced. I can't wait to taste it!
Urban Herbs has every spice you could dream of and lots of spices you've never heard of. I bought whole nutmeg, Tellicherry peppercorns and real cinnamon sticks. Did you know that most cinnamon sticks you buy in the grocery store are actually not cinnamon at all, but something called Cassia, which is cheaper and easier to come by.
And lastly, I couldn't leave the market without buying a big hunk of chocolate for my sweetie.
I give the West Side Market a big A+. The vendors are extremely friendly and the whole place has a wonderful upbeat feel. If you are ever sent to Cleveland, don't despair. This will be the highlight of your trip!