Here’s some fun with authentic Spanish cuisine! The famous El Mercado de San Miguel — a historic Spanish market originally opened in Madrid in 1916 — is here as “La Feria del Mercado de San Miguel,” an emporium of fresh, regional foods as a pop-up through January 31, 2016. You can’t miss the huge black and white “m” in Bayfront Park at the entrance to the impressive indoor tent complete with outdoor seating and tapas bar. Spearheaded by Montserrat Valle, the owner of the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid (which she renovated in 2009), the Miami site marries Spanish gastronomy with local artisans, bakers, and farmers to create the legendary dishes and take-home provisions that the Spanish location has become celebrated for world-wide. Inspired by the traveling markets and street fairs of old Europe, this pop-up version of the permanent market is scheduled to travel the globe and has selected Miami as its first stop. It’s a lively atmosphere with music and dancers that entertain as you graze on more food than you can imagine. Plan for heavy cardio the day after. I was there for the VIP opening and I loved the immense variety of authentic cuisine.
La Feria is 9,000 square feet of combined interior and outdoor space that recreates the atmosphere of the original 20th century location. A large, circular bar offers an assortment of local and Spanish beers, specialty Spanish cocktails, such as Rebujito and Tinto de Verano, as well as Gin & Tonics and international spirits of all kinds. The food itself runs the gamut between traditional Spanish, local artisanal and global cuisines. Four main kiosks are featured. One kiosk, decorated in blue and white, highlights a wide selection of Paellas, the typical Mediterranean specialty. A second, red kiosk set up like a fish market features fish of all kinds including shrimp, lobster, mussels, tuna and more. A gigantic brick oven located in the “sailor kiosk,” is for “Cocas”, the Spanish equivalent of Italian pizza, which are served with traditional options like Escalibada (roasted vegetables). The fourth kiosk focuses on meat, where a traditional butcher shop offers locally sourced cuts and grounds which are cooked in a Josper – a Spanish charcoal grill oven known for producing inimitable flavor.
Smaller carts in the space feature smaller fare such as croquetas; fried calamari; breads from local bakers; Spanish cheeses like Manchego and locally-made charcuteries. Spanish classics like pintxos and tapas are featured as well with a variety of Montaditos (tapas on bread) including crab, mozzarella, ham, mohama, salmon roe, and octopus as are freshly made Spanish tortillas and the legendary 5 Jotas Cart, featuring their Iberian Jamon. There are also traditional soups, fruit juices and skewers, salads and daily dessert selections.
Location: Bayfront Park 301 North Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL 33132
Hours of operation: Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. / Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to Midnight
Average prices: Montaditos, Tapas and Pintxos from $2 to $5 each; Paellas, meats, seafood and cocas $8 and up.