Saturday, October 2, 2010

To Market, To Market - Downtown

Yesterday was a beautiful, breezy Friday and an ideal time to visit the Tampa Downtown Market

Office workers emerge from their cubicles to stroll through the market.
The vendors at this once-a-week outdoor festival could not have asked for better weather to kick off their 2010-2011 season.  Open 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. every Friday from October through May, the market is a parade of food trucks and mom-and-pop tented booths featuring cheeses, pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, colorful orchids, hand-crafted breads and baked goods, hot-popped kettle corn, produce stands, and restaurants that have set up mini-shops on a cobblestone street blocked off for pedestrian traffic. 

The distinct aroma of kettle corn wafts through the air.

Some guy in the crowd was ecstatic over his knish!

This is a fun way to spend your Friday lunch hour if you work downtown, and it's enjoyable even if you don't work there because you are reminded that we still have some brick streets and historic landmarks in this city, and that it's still possible to experience a sense of cohesiveness and vibrancy in a city that often feels sprawling and ...well...depressed.   Good for Tampa for livening things up downtown.

Can you guess which stands I hit?  On my way in, I saw one lady carrying an armload of what must have been a dozen baguettes and another couple with loaves sticking out of their "green" tote bags, a sure sign I needed to visit the bread guy.

His booth was a mess (because he was the one slammed), but he had the most enticing products by far.  This gentleman drives 2 1/2 hours from Port St. Lucie to market his son's baked goods.  As he gave me the cook's tour of breads, croissants and rolls, a lady approached him excitedly and exclaimed, "You're back!"  Then she looked at me and said, "You will just love these breads."  She also recommended the chocolate croissants, but I'll save those for the next visit.

I bought a pull-apart baguette, designed to separate into individual pieces, and a loaf of the "Italian medley," containing sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, and a bunch of garlic and herbs.   The Italian loaf tastes just like pizza. 

This man had been working hard, so hard in fact that he never had time to post signs identifying the products.  He was genuinely happy to be there, remarking about Tampa, "The people here are nice."   I got a chuckle out of his comparison to the market in Boca Raton, where he said people fight with each other in line.  Those of us who have lived in South Florida can relate.

For a friendly Friday excursion or a quick lunch outside on a pleasant day, check out the Tampa Downtown Market.  For more information, including directions and parking:

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see Tampa is joining the ranks of promoting local entrepreneurs and crafts people. Jacksonville has done the same thing as has Chattanooga, TN. Both of these are quite successful. I've been to the ones in Jax and Chatt and always buy the fresh produce and kettle corn. Hooray for Tampa! Hope the folks in the area support this endeavor.