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Marvellous Markets

Selling gourmet, hard-to-find items and imported foods from countries around the world, Calgary’s food markets can help you to produce that perfect Pad Thai, butter chicken or Bolognese. Many markets also double as restaurants or delis, so if you still want an authentic experience you can get that dish on the spot or to heat up at home.

If you’ve fantasized about eating your way across Italy, Mercato is a closer alternative, offering all the ingredients for an Italian feast in an antique building on 4th St. There’s raw ingredients, such as fresh herbs, olives, cured meats, Italian espresso and more than 25 kinds of olive oil. The less culinary-inclined can pick from an extensive range of fresh pasta and sauces, made in-house, as well as baguettes, bruschetta and a deli cooler full of prepared food, from meatballs to vine leaves, saffron risotto balls and eggplant parmesan. Mercato also doubles as a restaurant, offering gourmet Italian cuisine prepared in an open kitchen; turn right instead of left as you enter.

The name may be German, but Edelweiss caters to patrons looking for products from across northern Europe, including Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, Scandinavia and Poland. The food section has staples such as sauerkraut and potato dumplings, as well as sweeter treats like as marzipan, vanilla sugar, Dutch pancake mix, fruit cake and a wide selection of European chocolate, including Milka, Lindt and Ritter Sport. The deli cooler is packed with meat and sausage, though patrons looking for a quick snack would do better to head over the Kaffee Stube (café), where they’ll find a full range of hot dishes and a plentiful selection of cakes. Owner Renate Schuster, originally from Germany, says that the majority of her customers aren’t immigrants, but Calgarians who’ve travelled abroad and come home still craving European goodies.

By far the largest of Calgary’s specialty markets, T&T’s two locations are one-stop-shops for oriental cuisine. There’s typical items such as instant noodles, wasabi, Pocky sticks and soya sauces, but the real draw are the exotics you’d only find at authentic Chinese restaurants: durians, lily buds, enoki mushrooms, gai choy, shark fin and pork ears (to name a few). The supermarket also offers North American products and even some European brands, as well as live seafood, a bakery with a wide selection of buns, deli with hot food and sushi, tea store, and Chinese herb shop. Part of a cross-Canada chain, the Marlborough location, 800, 999 – 36 St NE, opened its doors in 1999, followed by the Harvest Hills store in 2006.

If you live by the mantra that ordinary ingredients create ordinary food, then The Cookbook Co. is the place to ensure your creations are extraordinary. They sell a range of specialty ingredients, including lavender-infused honey, crème frâiche, lentils and beans from Cote D’Azur, roasted tomato and balsamic mustard and organic ginger beer. True to its name, it also has more than 2,000 cookbooks, as well as kitchenware. The Cookbook Co. also offers a way to help even the most junior chef manipulate ingredients: cooking classes. The subject matter is vast, including basics for teens, couples and bachelors, as well as breadmaking, pasta, ethnic cuisine and specialty classes taught by local chefs such as Giuseppe Di Gennaro (Capo), Scott Pohorelic (River Café) and food critic dee Hobsbawn-Smith.

• Tazza Grill & Deli
• Boca Loca Fine Mexican Foods
• Janice Beaton Fine Cheese
• Lina’s Italian Market
• Community Natural Foods—Sally MacKinnon

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