When I travel, I try to buy only things that are not available here in PR. And when I go to NYC, I actually have a list of things/groceries I am buying. I have an expandable suitcase and it always returns full.
I discovered Grand Central Market, on Lexington Ave. and 42nd street, about 7-8 years ago when I was working for a multi-national company on US Hispanic marketing and I had to travel to NYC almost every 2 months. Right smack in the middle of midtown Manhattan is this small, but super varied market filled with delicacies galore.
I was walking on Lexington Ave. and tried to walk into Grand Central Station and instead, I walked right into the market. There are stations from the best purveyors in the city… there’s a cheese stand from Murray’s cheeses, there’s a Greenwich Produce stand, and more… and even though most of the stands do not cater specifically to vegetarians, I can certainly appreciate their commitment to excellence and quality.
For years, I have bought my sun-dried tomatoes at the Grand Central Market. It’s the only place where they have dry sun-dried tomatoes without added sulfites… at least the label only reads tomatoes and salt as the ingredients. I hope no one is lying to me.
I always visit the Murray’s Cheese stand. I always ask about which cheeses they have that are made without animal rennet. I love people there do not look at me weird when I make this request and are actually super helpful and informative. And after all that help and tastings, you are bound to walk out of there with at least one cheese in your bag. And the cool thing, they also have fruit cakes/bars that go very well with their cheeses. My mom loves their fig and date bars. This trip, I had a thing for pistachios.
I love their fruit and vegetable stand. Everything always looks super fresh and tasty. I was taken by the nice variety of mushrooms – in little quantities, perfect to make that one special meal. Shitakes, enoki, cremini, portobellos, chanterelles, oysters, etc. Look at the price on the portobellos… in PR I would have paid almost $6 for portobellos and they never look that fresh.
I almost bought pomegranate seeds… I told you I am on a pomegranate kick and these are not available like that here… But I exercised some restrain and left then there. You can also find “exotic” fruits… like LEMON FRUITS, which we call here QUENEPAS, not spelled with a K, like the label says. These ones can definitely be bought in the streets here in PR, particularly in Ponce when they’re in season during the summer months.
I urge you to visit the Grand Central Market the next time you visit NYC. It’s a little market but full of surprises and variety. I am sure you won’t be able to walk out empty-handed…