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Downtown LA’s Grand Central Market

20 Sep grandcentralmarket2

I have been wanting to go to DTLA’s Grand Central Market for a while. So last week, when I had a meeting in downtown I decided to finally walk around the Market.

Growing up in Brazil, I would love to go with my grandma to the Municipal Market(this is how we call them) and explore the fruits and vegetables that you would not be able to find anywhere else. So I was very excited to see the Los Angeles’ version of it.

The Market has a Public Parking Lot and it offers Free Parking for an hour with a $10 minimum purchase.The parking ticket needs to be validated, then stamped at the Information’s Desk right before you exit the market.

grandcentralmarket1

Once I was there I realized I picked the wrong day for my food explorations. It was a scorching hot, with temperatures in the high 90’s and it felt like a sauna in there. Alright, gotta move fast!

I walked around trying to choose a place to eat, but there were so many options! Pupusas, Tacos, Seafood, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Bagels,Pizza… all freshly prepared there.

So my first and favorite stop was at DTLA, an amazing Cheese Shop stocked with cold cuts and cheese from all over the world. They also sell jams, condiments, and a surprisingly delicious cucumber soda. I ordered a sandwich of Pork Loin, arugula, grated Grana Padano, mushrooms and house made cucumber pickles =Spectacular!

I also bought yummy California’s Toma Cheese,and drums please – Bread Cheese!!

BreadcheeseCarrValleyBreadCheese

 Bread Cheese is also known as Leipäjuusto, a Finnish cheese, and as my beloved Brazilian Queijo Coalho (which means Curd Cheese in Portuguese). Queijo Coalho is a little bit firmer, and does not melt inside, but its elastic texture and taste is very similar to Bread Cheese. People sometimes compare Bread Cheese to Halloumi, and while I adore Halloumi, you cannot compare apples to oranges. I am so indescribably happy I found one of my favorite ingredients in Brazilian Cuisine! There is an infinity of recipes you can make using it.Here, I quickly warmed it in a skillet(microwave for 30 sec works too), and ate with organic blueberries and Raw Honey.

The Market also has a Seafood Shop, a meat shop, and fruits and vegetables stands. The produce is extremely cheap but it does not look super fresh. I am guessing they can afford to sell it this cheap because the produce is on the verge of going bad. For example, a pint of blueberries was $1. If I were to buy it at the store or Farmer’s Market it would cost anywhere from $3,99 to $5. But when I inspected the bottom of the container I noticed many were squished and moldy. No organic produce was available. I bought a bag of limes, a bag of corn, and a bag of bananas for $ 1 each.

By then I was melting, it was terribly hot in there. So I made my last stop at the Dried Chiles stand, and bought a generous amount of Oaxacan Mole. It keeps in the fridge for a year, and you just have to add some chicken or vegetable’s stock, and heat it in a pan sauce. Serve it with seasoned Chicken breast, Mole Sauce and Sesame Seeds on top.

Mole

The Market was great and I am definitely coming back. I was a little bit disappointed at their fresh produce availability and selection though. But on the other hand,it was great to see that in a world where carrots are more expensive than a sandwich, people can still buy fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables and have the option of eating healthy.

GRAND CENTRAL MARKET
317 S. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Open Seven Days a Week,
Monday – Sunday 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
Telephone: (213) 624-2378
Fax: (213) 624-9496

 

FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 Starts Today Amid Protests

12 Jun olho-do-brasil

Today the FIFA World Cup 2014 starts in Brazil. I am so excited because Brasil is my mother land and soccer is so important in our culture. There is a saying that goes something like ” Politics, religion and soccer are topics that should never be discussed.” Meaning they are too controversial and heated, with way too many different opinions, so it is not worth risking your friendship over this discussion. Because you might lose a friend.

Believe me, people argue and even fight over soccer, or futebol, as we call it.

Yes, we love futebol. In fact,to bring the World Cup to Brazil is a great way to show our country and culture to the World. We are not only Carnaval and Churrasco. And no, we don’t have monkeys jumping in trees on the streets (You would be surprised how many people asked me this before). Specially now that the country is doing so well and economy is better.

But not everyone is happy about having the World Cup in Brazil.People are upset because the money that could have been used to improve Health Care (Health Care is paid by the Government) and education, was used to remodel old stadiums, build roads, and to “get the country ready” for the World Cup. Some say that a large portion of the protesters are not real protesters. They are hired by politicians for ulterior motives just to cause raucous and chaos (as supposedly happened in the case of the journalist that suffered a deadly injury in a protest earlier this year).

The protest is called “Nao vai ter Copa”, or “There will be no World Cup”. So far, manifestations have been small and controlled, but two CNN journalist were injured while covering a protest in Sao Paulo.

And they should remain controlled. The Brazilian Army is everywhere, roaming the streets in the cities where the games will occur. My grandmother lives two blocks from the stadium where Spain will play their first game (my home team Atletico Paranaense’s stadium) in Curitiba. And she told me there are check points and barricades in the neighborhood. On the day of the game, only people with credentials, who registered with the city and live in the area will be able to be in the neighborhood. Those who drive, must get home 4 hours before the game or they will have to park their cars somewhere else and walk home.

That shouldn’t be a problem since nothing works in the country when Brazil is playing. Everything closes, stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, medical offices, offices, EVERYTHING! You can lay down on the pavement of the busiest street of the city, because there will be no cars on the street. It looks like a ghost town. People get together with friends and families mostly in their homes, to watch the game and eat some pao de queijo, pastel and brigadeiro. When the game is over they go celebrate the victory on the streets with a lot of music and dancing.

We are a happy nation. And while I believe in protesting for your rights, now is the time to put all this anger aside and enjoy the biggest show on Earth, or as we say it ” o maior show da Terra”. Vai que e tua Brasilllllllllllll!!

 

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