Until recently, when you went to a food court in any mall in America you were greeted by the usual suspects; Cinnabon, Subway and my personal favorite Hot Dog on a Stick, just to name a few. The food is cheap, fast, and processed. Well, America has cried out for justice and it seems their voices have been heard. May 20th saw the opening of The Market in the Santa Monica Place Mall, just off the Third Street Promenade. I didn’t know what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised by this modern, open and airy space that adjoins the 3rd floor dining deck that’s also home to six restaurants.
For me it’s a brilliantly conceived idea. The space houses these independently owned shops offering everything from fresh baked goods, flowers, organic coffees, skincare items to a cooking school. The shops are not enclosed but open, allowing the shoppers to wander in and out of each space creating the feel of an outdoor marketplace.
These vendors are selling products that are organic, artisanal, sustainable, fairly traded, seasonal, and locally grown. That’s a lot of adjectives, but that’s how I love to shop. My friend Marci and I make our first stop at Rockenwagner Bakery because, duh…I love bread. We’re greeted by a very friendly and hospitable Hans Fama Rockenwagner who offered us a sampling of their pastries. We tried several of their sandwiches served on their artisanal breads, and purchased some bread and cookies to go. Their breads are fresh, hearty and full of flavor. This will be my first stop when I return for my next visit.
It was impossible to walk past L’Artisan du Chocolat without stopping in. They offer up their stunning chocolates and macarons made fresh each day at their Silverlake location. Their chocolates are made with no preservatives and less sugar, and come in an array of unusual flavors.
The chef behind Primi Al Mercato is Piero Selvaggio of Valentino Restaurant in Santa Monica. What I found most intriguing about this spot was the two women making fresh pastas right there in the window for shoppers to view. You can purchase these pastas in the retail space, or walk next door to a lovely dining area to enjoy “small plates” of pasta and fresh sauces. Personally I have not found too many places in the Los Angeles area where I could buy such unusual, freshly-made pastas.
I am a true coffee lover, so we had to make a stop into Groundwork Coffee Company. Their coffee and teas are organic and fair trade, and I definitely like to support retailers who offer fair trade products. We purchased some of their “Black Gold” to go!
Norcino Salumeria Cheese Bar is also operated by Piero Selvaggio. Serving charcuterie plates of the most amazing selection of high-quality, imported meats and cheeses, this is a must for my non-vegan friends. For me this place is a decadent treat!
I like to give nice wine as a gift, and Venokado had a great selection of fine wines and champagnes to choose from. They also offered a large selection of modern gifts.
Once you’ve purchased your wine, your dinner, your coffee and dessert at The Market, your last stop should be to Magical Blooms. This vibrantly designed shop offers creative, one-of-a-kind floral arrangements, as well as floral design classes.
And finally, not only does The Market offer its visitors a gourmet shopping and dining experience, there’s also a cooking school in the space as well. Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories offers 3 and 4 hour cooking classes, chef demonstrations and special events. As a culinary school graduate, I can say I never tire of taking cooking classes and their’s covers a wide variety of topics.