3 years ago I studied abroad in Florence, Italy and it was quite possibly the best time of my life. Most days were what you’d typically expect a regular day in Italy to be like : running down the street, with the constant “ciao bella” and ” oh Dio che donna” comments (ego food) as the background music to a never ending, heart palpitating race to try the best, freshest, most delicious food. Forget italian men, nothing beats the passion that a good italian dish can entince. The first time I saw a man making buffalo mozarella balls… I’m not sure I can fully describe exactly what happened, but it was magical. One of the best places to visit in Florence is the Mercato Centrale, located at Via dell’Ariento near Piazza San Lorenzo. It’s an open-air market that has a cast-iron structure dating back to 1874, which offers a variety of incredible food shops from local residents. You can see a picture of it above.
Once I left Italy, I came to accept the fact that my passionate food adventures were lost and would only be relived on my visits to Italy or other food-heavy European countries. And then…fate and Mario Batali brought Italy to me and it’s just 30 minutes away. They even brought me the mozarella man!
Eataly, located at 200 Fifth Avenue, is currently the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace in the world. It follows the model originally set by Oscar Farinetti’s food and wine market, of the same name located in Turin, Italy.
The original Eataly was created in part to bring attention to local foods, dishes and traditions. It’s a super market that supports and encourages the slow food movement-a movement that focuses on local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. Click here to learn more about slow food.
Much like its Italian counterpart, Eataly NYC focuses on italian, handmade or imported delicacies. Batali has also adopted Oscar Farinetti’s motto “Buy, taste and learn about the best foods all under the same roof” and created a 50,000 square foot space that is a food lover’s dream. From cured meats and cheeses, fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, fresh fish, handmade pasta, gelatti, truffles,desserts, baked goods, coffees and even Italian bookstore megastar Rizzoli. It’s heaven.
You can definitely get lost here and if you’re going during your lunch break make sure you think of a good excuse for when you go back to work, because you’ll definitely be late. There’s over 50 types of pastas, olive oils and sauces and undoubtedly it will take over an hour to answer the question “what do I want to eat?”, followed by ” I want to eat everything.”
I think the idea behind Eataly is wonderful. Food should not just be something we put in our stomachs to stop the hunger, it should not be a diet and you should not have to settle and eat something that tastes anything but amazing. Every meal, every bite should be an experience. Every ingredient should be delicious.
There is something so wrong about buying a peach that tastes like rubber, a tomatoe that’s cut open and looks like mush. Food needs to taste like food and at Eataly it definitely does. The only thing I’d change is the price but as with most things if you want the best, you have to pay the big bucks.
I tried to contain myself during my visit and bought just a few things, including the most amazing pear I’ve eaten since…sadly I can’t remember, that’s how long it’s been since I’ve had a good pear. I also bought buffalo mozarella made by the mozarella boy right in front of me =), prosciutto, sopressata, tagliatelle and mushrooms, all ingredients used to make one of the best Sunday lunches. I sauteed the mushrooms with a little bit of butter, olive oil and loads of garlic and then just poured it over the pasta. Covered it all up with a dusting of fresh parm and voilà, simple, fresh and delicious.
If you haven’t been to Eataly, you should definitely swing by. Even if you’re not a fan of italian food ( do people like that exist?) you should still go to just see what a supermarket is really supposed to look and feel like.
Buon appetito amici.