Published: April 2009
By Leslie Brenner
Buttery croissants?Fish roe in a tube?Four food experts reveal their favorite marchés—and what you'll find there—in London, Rome, Paris, and Stockholm.
Nigella Lawson, author of Forever Summer and host of her own show by the same title on the Style Network.
• MARKET Borough Market 8 Southwark St.; 44-207/407-1002; www.boroughmarket.org.uk. The only wholesale and retail market left in central London, it dates back to Roman times. "It's the scene of Little Dorrit; you can walk around all these Dickensian streets. There's wonderful fish, incredibly good bacon, and Brindisa, a stall where you'll find fabulous Spanish ham and delicacies." DON'T MISS Decorated sugar cookies from Konditor & Cook.
• GOURMET SHOP Villandry 170 Great Portland St.; 44-207/631-3131; www.villandry.com. A food shop that fronts a restaurant of the same name; it has charcuterie and cheese counters, coffee, and French yogurts and creams. "A bit like an English version of Dean & DeLuca in New York. You go in for two things and come out with twenty, having spent a week's salary." DON'T MISS Cold-smoked trout from the Woodcock Smokery in County Cork.
• FOOD HALL Selfridges 400 Oxford St.; 44-8708/377-377; www.selfridges.co.uk. The 1,800-square-foot space includes a sushi bar, an oyster bar, two new restaurants, and an extensive array of smoked fish, cheeses, caviar, and confections. Recently renovated and expanded, it received the Royal Warrant for Food, meaning it can deliver to Buckingham Palace. DON'T MISS Montgomery Moore dark chocolate buttons. "They're seductively good."
• SPICES The Spice Shop 1 Blenheim Crescent; 44-207/221-4448; www.thespiceshop.co.uk. Founded as a stall on Portobello Road, this store is stocked with blue poppy seeds, dried Iranian limes, amchur (mango) powder, and organic Somalian cumin. DON'T MISS Nigella Lawson Zahtar Mix: sumac, vanilla pods, cinnamon quills, and ras el hanout (Moroccan spice blend).
COOKBOOK SHOP Books for Cooks A destination for food lovers in London, who come in not only to browse among the 8,000-plus titles but to take cooking classes at the school upstairs.
4 BLENHEIM CRESCENT, NOTTING HILL 44-207/221-1992 www.booksforcooks.com
Jo Bettoja, owner of Lo Scaldavivande cooking school and author of In a Roman Kitchen.
• MARKET Mercato di Via del Lavatore Near the Trevi Fountain. An open-air mercato where Bettoja brings her students to shop for produce. "The people who work there have a dry sense of humor and big hearts. They can find anything for you, and they'll even share their recipes." DON'T MISS Fragolini di bosco—wild strawberries.
• BAKERY Giovanni Riposati 8 Via delle Muratte; 39-06/679-2866. Thought to be the oldest bakery in Rome, in the centro storico. "I buy all kinds of bread at Riposati. Rosette, rolls shaped like little flowers; sciapo, which is a loaf bread with no salt; brown peasant bread; grissini [breadsticks] with sesame seeds." DON'T MISS The thin-crust Roman white pizza.
• GOURMET SHOP Avenati 44 Via Milano; 39-06/488-2681. A cheese store known for its burrata and nodino from Puglia (as well as buffalo mozzarellas from Campania), it also has an extensive selection of hams, salamis, cured meats, artisanal dried pastas, olives, preserved anchovies, bottarga (dried mullet or tuna roe), and smoked fish. DON'T MISS Formaggio di fossa, a rare cheese made from sheep's and cow's milk and aged underground.
• WINESHOP Trimani 20 Via Goito; 39-06/446-9661. Rome's best-known enoteca, with an outstanding array of Italian wines, specializing in artisanal producers; next door is Trimani II Wine Bar. DON'T MISS Il Dominio di Bagnoli grappa, bottled in Padua by Bettoja's nephew.
• CHOCOLATIER Moriondo e Gariglio 21-22 Via del Piè di Marmo; 39-06/699-0856. With a crimson interior that looks like an old-fashioned confectioner's, this shop dates from the mid 1800's, when it was opened in Turin by pastry masters Moriondo and Gariglio. Today Attilio Proietti packs the violet-flavored or rum-filled chocolates in the same pretty red boxes that have been used here for more than a century. DON'T MISS Tronchette—bittersweet, soft little chocolates shaped like tree trunks.
COOKBOOK SHOP Enoculinaria Within the popular 'Gusto gastronomic complex is a bookshop that stocks 3,000 titles in Italian, English, French, German, and Spanish.
9 PIAZZA AUGUSTO IMPERATORE; 39-06/322-6273
Pascal Barbot, chef at L'Astrance.
• CHEESE SHOP Laurent Dubois 2 Rue de Lourmel, 15th Arr.; 33-1/45-78-70-58. Owner Dubois is a meilleur ouvrier de France, decorated for his dedication to affinage—the art of cheese ripening and aging. "The best in Paris for Roquefort." DON'T MISS Vacherin Mont d'Or, a foot-wide round of gooey raw-cow's-milk cheese bound by a band of spruce bark.
• MARKET Marché Cours de la Reine Ave. du Président-Wilson, 16th Arr. Open-air market popular for spectacular produce on a pretty, tree-lined boulevard. "I love the market, especially in spring, with all the young carrots—yellow ones, orange ones, round red ones." DON'T MISS The large and incredibly juicy Burlat cherries.
• GOURMET SHOP Pietrement-Lambret 58 Rue Jean-Jacques-Rousseau, First Arr.; 33-1/42-33-30-50. This tiny boutique specializes in offerings from the Lot Valley, including duck and goose products such as confit and foie gras. Many meats are sold in tins, so you won't have a problem bringing them back through customs. DON'T MISS Cassoulet campagnard: a savory stew of white beans, duck, goose, and pork.
• BOULANGERIE Jean-Luc Poujauran 20 Rue Jean-Nicot, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/47-05-80-88. Turn-of-the-last-century Left Bank bakery where Poujauran creates organic breads and buttery, flaky croissants. "It's a very small shop, and there are always twenty people waiting in line." DON'T MISS Cannelés—small, chewy, caramelized vanilla cakes, traditional in Bordeaux.
• PÂTISSERIE Pierre Hermé 72 Rue Bonaparte, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/43-54-47-77. This diminutive brown-and-pink boutique, off a busy shopping stretch of Rue Jacob in Saint-Germain, draws droves of passionate chocoholics who line up for Hermé's artful petits fours, 10 varieties of macaroons, and decadent truffles. Hermé, a fourth-generation baker who was trained by Gaston Lenôtre at the age of 14, was the chief pastry chef at Fauchon and consulted at Ladurée before setting off on his own in 2001. "Hermé made macarons fashionable in Paris. He's one of the best pâtissiers in the city." DON'T MISS Passion fruit-and-milk chocolate ganache macaroons.
COOKBOOK SHOP Librairie Gourmande More than 8,000 selections fill this charming shop. Most are in French, though English-language books are also available.
4 RUE DANTE, FIFTH ARR.; 33-1/43-54-37-27
Mathias Dahlgren, chef, Bon Lloc, and author of the cookbook Bon Lloc.
• MARKET Östermalmshallen 31 Nybrogatan. Stockholm's central, covered market, which carries not only pristine shrimp and gleaming salmon but also traditional Swedish breads, cheeses, meats, and prepared foods. "It's beautiful and very Swedish." DON'T MISS Kalix löjrom—high-quality caviar from the löja fish, found off the coast of northern Sweden.
• ETHNIC MARKET Hötorgshallen Hötorgshallen; www.hotorgshallen.se/english/ett_eng.htm. Indoor market where Dahlgren, winner of the prestigious Bocuse d'Or, buys his ingredients from around the globe: he believes that ethnic influences are what contemporary Swedish cooking is all about. "They have everything from everywhere—the Middle East, India, Asia, eastern and southern Europe." DON'T MISS Tubes of Moroccan harissa (hot pepper sauce).
• ORGANIC PRODUCTS Rosendals Trädgård 12 Rosendalsterrassen; 46-8/5458-1270. A produce market/bakery/gourmet shop/café bordered by an organic garden that supplies all the vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers sold there. "Whatever you buy is wonderful. They have great honey and marmalade, and a nice café from March through December." DON'T MISS Stone oven-baked bread.
• FOOD HALL NK Saluhall 18-20 Hamngatan; 46-8/762-8000; www.nk.se/english. On the lower ground floor of the department store NK (pronounced "enn-koh," for Nordiska Kompaniet), the Saluhall features 10,000 products in a spacious, immaculate emporium. Traditional Swedish treats include herring, salmon, moose, jellied veal, Våsterbotten cheese, elderberries, and wild raspberries. DON'T MISS Vacuum-packed smoked reindeer meat.
• FIKA Vete-Katten 55 Kungsgatan; 46-8/208-405. One of the city's oldest fika (sweet snack) houses. Walk in and you'll swoon from the smell of cookies baking. Buy from the counter, or take a seat and enjoy your desserts with coffee. "Just as the Spanish have tapas, we do fika: eating sweet things between meals. Maybe it's because it's very cold here and we need the sugar." DON'T MISS Semla—a cardamom bun with almond filling, served with whipped cream.
COOKBOOK SHOP NK Bokhandel On the fourth floor of Stockholm's most food-focused department store, featuring an impressive array of Swedish titles.
18-20 HAMNGATAN; 46-8/762-8000
LESLIE BRENNER is the acting food editor of the Los Angeles Times.