By Ivy Bernardo
I decided to cover La Feria del Mercado de San Miguel – a Spanish fair/market traveling the globe – because I believed it would be a completely unbiased review on my part. Boy was I was wrong. I say this because though I’m a native Brazilian, my blood runs red and yellow, as Spain is my favorite country. I’ve been privileged of traveling to Spain every year for as long as I can remember. I’ve also had the opportunity of road tripping throughout the entire country, and experiencing the range of Spanish cultures and traditions. That being said, La Feria del Mercado de San Miguel undoubtedly presented the most authentic Spanish cuisine, on an international scale.
Right across Miami’s popular touristic mall, Bayside, laid a massive striped tent with quite the impressive entrance. We were greeted with a delightful staff all in a charming traditional Spanish fashion; they were very accommodating in enlightening us on La Feria’s history and explaining exactly what the fair entitled.
La Feria del Mercado de San Miguel offers a cultural and gastronomic experience. Fully equipped with a bar in the center of the tent (and an impressive wine collection I might add), and a collection of eight flavor enriched Spanish food stations.
On a typical scorching Saturday afternoon in Miami, what better way to cool off and kick-start the experience than with bottomless pitchers of Sangria, accompanied by a delicious set of salmorejo, a savory gazpacho cream usually served as a starter. Though I had never tasted the dish, its presentation came second to none with vibrant colors of orange and a bright magenta – courtesy of the beets used in the recipe. The dish’s flavor were up to par with its presentation, they was light and creamy, and quite frankly tasted like a delicious ceviche.
The next round of tapas included a cheese board with several traditional Spanish cheeses, such as Manchego, and Cabrales blue cheese, accompanied with a heavenly selection of jamon, grapes, and jam. This was by far my favorite part of the experience as it truly took me back to sitting in a restaurant in Malasaña, Spain, ordering a round of tapas right before the siesta.
Following the cheese and jamon board came a delectable dish of calamari and potatoes in a fresh herbed tomato sauce. The dish was so good that after I had finished, I found myself scraping off the rest of the tomato sauce with the baguette slices.
These dishes all lead up to the star of the show; two perfectly seasoned and grilled lamb chops on a bed of sautéed red and green bell peppers. Now, I’m not a big fan of bell peppers but as a foundation for every foodie, comes the need of open mindedness, and I absolutely savored each bite of the bell peppers, as they were so rich in flavor that I couldn’t stop eating.
With my jeans unbuttoned, I was ready for dessert, and I was not disappointed. La Feria was offering one of my favorite dishes, the Torta de Almendras, almond cake. Each bite was better than the next, the cake was light, moist, and not overwhelmingly sweet.
My experience at La Feria del Mercado de San Miguel left me extremely well fed and nostalgic as each dish was like Spain on a platter. They perfected the bittersweet feeling of being surrounded by traditional Spanish culture in both the culinary aspect and the ambiance. I will most definitely be coming back for more.