The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2016

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Page 26 of 100

26  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2016 WHERE WE'RE EATING W hen I'm in Singapore, I head for the hawker markets, where dozens of stands, often open 24 hours a day, sell a singular item—perhaps shrimp dumplings at one and chili crab at another—each perfectly prepared. In London, it's the Borough Market I head for, passing by the shuffling masses waiting for admission at the Tower, preferring a snack of aged Stilton and Derby to gazing at aged crown jewels. I love food halls, wisely, and certainly too much, for their variety, their flavors, their joy—and the sense of place they give me. Over the years, I've eaten so well at the Pike Place Market in Seattle, the Reading Terminal in Philadelphia, the Ferry Building in San Francisco, the Quincy Market in Boston and the Chelsea Market in New York. And it does my heart—and my soul—good to see a new generation of food halls, rising (more often than not) in repurposed spaces. Consider the sundry branches of Mario Batali's Eataly, which are spread- ing across America, with outposts in New York, Chicago and, soon, Los Angeles. Consider New York's Grand Central Dining Concourse, adding one more level of culinary obsession to a city with an appetite that's never satisfied. And consider, as much as any food hall in America, the born-again Grand Central Market in Downtown Los Angeles. Since 1917, the GCM has been the destination of choice for locals in need of fruits and vegetables, meat and fish. Its Latino food stands sold carnitas, asada and various offal, some more identifiable than others. And then, under new ownership, the notion of reinvent- ing the Market went from visionary dream to staggering reality. The GCM has been pivotal in the revival of L.A.'s sadly neglected Downtown. Locals who haven't been Downtown in ages flock to the market and its surrounding muse- ums and galleries. If I'm anywhere near Downtown—within the same time zone in fact—I head for the market, for a taste of Los Angeles. For the absurdist egg sandwiches served at the always-packed Eggslut. For the Moroccan kebabs at Bar Moruno, the corned beef on rye at Wexler's Deli, the smoked brisket at Horse Thief, the sublime falafel at Madcapra (food by chefs from Brooklyn—Brooklyn heading for L.A.!), for the incomparable pasta from Bruce Kalman at Knead & Co. And there's more, so much more, with more arriving regularly. And speaking of Brooklyn—a branch of Brooklyn's iconic open-air food hall, Smorgasburg, has opened near the market, on the banks of the dismal L.A. River—a river of concrete. Given enough time, the market has come back, Downtown has come back—and hopefully, the river will come back. Food halls are powerful. And so tasty. THE BITES OF GRAND CENTRAL MARKET IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES. The Rise and Rise Again of the Food Hall A rotisserie lamb bowl from Bar Moruno. Falafel from Madcapra. A bacon, egg and cheese sandwich from Eggslut. PHOTO COURTESY OF BAR MORUNO PHOTO: ANDREA ALONSO PHOTO: JAKOB LAYMAN by Merrill Shindler C M Y CM MY CY CMY K

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