Tourist Tip #285 / The Farmers' Market, Tel Aviv Port

Where can you find purple carrots, black potatoes and so much more? At this farmers' market. Just don't expect bargains.

A purple carrot. Or a fat bright yellow one that looks more like a potato with a carrot top and a long tail. A white one while about it, or all three, and for preference mixed with other subspecies of carrot, each of which has different qualities regarding taste and texture as well. Where can you find them? A few places, a key one being the so-called farmers' market at the Tel Aviv port.

The words "farmers' market" generally evoke "fresh from the field" and, usually, "cheap." Forget the latter at the Tel Aviv port version: This is not a venue for bargains. It is, however, a venue to delight the gustatory senses with unusual, as well as ordinary, fresh fruits and vegetables, many of which are almost impossible to find elsewhere.

Beyond carrots, there are tomatoes in weird and wonderful forms, berries (in season) including blueberries and raspberries so beloved of immigrants from the West, high-end produce such as fresh asparagus, and a range of potato species including the "black" ones. Which, by the way, when peeled are white and purple spotted – sometimes more white, sometimes more purple. Yes, if you cook and mash them, you get lavender mash that tastes much like regular mashed potatoes. Kids adore it.

And there's so much more, just in the fruit and veg section. But this isn't just about shopping for kicky vegetables.

The farmers' market building also houses stores selling meat, fish, cheeses, wines, organic foods, olive oil products, cooking accessories and more (remember, not at a bargain). While there are any number of restaurants and cafes at the port, the market building itself is also home to restaurants, including a herring sandwich place, a deli, a stand that sells nothing but coffee, and a fresh-pasta stall with highly original sauces that vary by the season and the chef's mood. (This one has a few places to sit along its bar, and if you do, you will get a quickie appetizer while you wait for your order.) Most people buy food and eat it outside, enjoying the seaside breeze.

It bears mention that not all these places are kosher: Bolognese with parmesan is a give-away at the pasta stand, as its rare foray into crab sauce. But in other cases the kashrut status may be less evident. If you're concerned, ask.

The farmers' market is just one building out of the huge shopping and leisure complex Tel Aviv has developed at the port. It's certainly worth a visit and is a great place to take the kids for an outing.

Location of the farmers' market ("shuk ikarim"): Hangar 12 at the Tel Aviv port. Or, just enter the port area and ask.

Hours: The market is open every day except Sunday. Just don't expect everything to be open early.

Monday-Thursday 9 A.M. to 9 P.M.; Friday 9 A.M. to 3 P.M.; Saturday: 9 A.M. to 7 P.M.
 

Eyal Toueg