Every day at Copenhagen’s Torvehallerne market, a long queue forms in front of the Hija de Sanchez. The reason is quite simple: the fabulous tacos with caramelized ox tongue, coriander, onions and jalapeño sauce prepared by Rosio Sanchez, former pastry chef of the Noma. In just a few months, her microscopic taqueria has become the busiest venue in the Danish capital’s best food market, situated between Ørstedsparken and the Botanical Garden.
Rosio often hosts some of her more famous colleagues and, when this happens, customers have to resign themselves to an even longer wait for their orders: last autumn, René Redzepi actually got behind the counter and, together with the Noma team, personally created and served roast pork tacos marinated in a sauce of fermented pasilla pepper with coleslaw.
Those who prefer the classical fare of local cuisine can compete for a stool at the Hallernes Smørrebrød: here the “open sandwich” of buttered rye bread is served with dozens of different toppings. Which is the best? The one with fried fish, capers, lemon and rémoulade. For an after-lunch espresso (or filtered coffee), just a few metres away, The Coffee Collective is a coffee roasting shop offering sustainably produced quality blends.
Browsing among over 60 stalls at the Torvehallerne, families, foodies and tourists are not only interested in buying meat from the farms, chocolate from the Island of Bornholm and organic raspberries, but also come here to have breakfast or a quick lunch before or after doing their shopping, which confirms an ever growing trend in Europe, London and Barcelona: that of gourmet markets.
In Italy, FROM FLORENCE TO ROME
Trailing slightly behind other countries, Italy is finally becoming more competitive. A virtuous example is provided by the ambitious project of the Mercato Centrale in Florence, where visitors can choose between Luciano Savini’s tagliolini pasta served with truffles, vegan dishes by Marcella Bianchi and the pizza served by Sud.
Mercato Centrale, Florence
Piazza del Mercato Centrale, Via dell’Ariento
Rome too has finally got some nice surprises in store: at the Mercato di Testaccio, the district famous for being partial to offal, starred chef Cristina Bowerman of the Glass Hostaria recently opened Romeo, a booth fitted with a kitchen where – as well as being able to buy bread, pizza, ice-cream, cold cuts and some excellent cheese varieties – customers may also treat themselves to some signature sandwich rolls and fill “cups” with a number of delicacies, such as marinated salt cod, tortellini in broth or meatballs in tomato sauce.
In the next few months, there will be some celebrity guest chefs – also comprising Davide Scabin – who will present their personal interpretation of street food by using nothing but products purchased at the same market. The first event on the programme will be with Giulio Terrinoni (12 March) and Marco Martini (19 March).
Mercato di Testaccio, Rome
You can access in via Franklin, via Galvani, via Manuzio, via Ghiberti
Lisbon's Mercado da Ribeira
Many of the great names of the Portuguese restaurant scene have opened a spin-off venture at the Mercado da Ribeira in Lisbon. Today, in this recently restored historical complex, as well as being able to buy fish preserves or drink the typical ginjinha, you can also order a dish from one of the booths run by Marlene Vieira, Henrique Sá Pessoa or Alexandre Silva and then sit down at a communal wood table in the centre of the courtyard.
Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon
Avenida 24 de Julho 50
Rotterdam, London and Madrid
The Markthal in Rotterdam is certainly the most spectacular market of them all – the 40 metre high glass vault has been entirely decorated by artists Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam – and, once inside, the offering is equally impressive, with its cafés, burger bars, ethnic bistros and even a food education centre.
A model that is overtly inspired by its European counterparts, from the Borough Market in London to Madrid’s Mercado di San Miguel and the Catalan Mercat de Santa Caterina.
Dominee Jan Scharpstraat 298
Borough Market, London
8 Southwark Street
Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid
Plaza de San Miguel
Mercat de Santa Caterina, Barcelona
Avinguda Francesc Cambó, 16
TWO STOPS IN VALENCIA
Valencia’s answer is the Mercado de Colón and the Mercat Central, both of which are superb examples of modernist architecture, where the excellent chef Ricard Camarena has put his name to two different concepts.
You can try his avant-garde cuisine in the Espacio Colóns while the Central Bar is focused on tapas, such as tomato salad, grilled pig’s ears with mojo picon sauce and “bocadillo” of squid with aioli sauce, all ingredients selected from the nearby stalls.
Mercat Central, Valencia
Plaza Ciudad de Brujas
Mercado de Colón, Valencia
Carrer de Jorge Juan, 19