The Main Entrance to Santa Caterina Market. The wood beans and undulating shape of the roof lends itself to creating natural ventilation to the market
Santa Caterina Market was the first cover market in Barcelona opened in 1848. The modernization and renovation of the market began in 2001 with the roof being the most iconic part of the structure. It was gutted completed with only the portico facades remaining of the original market. In 2001, remains were unearth of the cloister (see picture below). This excavation delayed the opening from 2001 to 2005. It is finished with 325,000 glazed ceramic pieces in sixty-seven different colours, which form a colourful ‘Gaudi-esque’ mosaic reflecting the colours of the fruits and vegetables found in the market stalls. (The picture above is a detail from the market’s website).
When you enter the Santa Caterina Market (or Mercat de Santa Caterina ) you are struck by the modernity of the structure. The roofline is shaped like the waves (found not far from here) as Barcelona sits on the Costa Brava coast on the Mediterranean. It is covered in mosaic tiles that are full of colour and movement. The market is a little sister to the larger and more well know La Boqueria Market.
We spent about four hours together from start to finish. We went to visit a local food market (Santa Catarina Market). A short walk from the school, we had a full immersion on how to buy local delicacies: lesson on what to buy in the Catalan region, what is fresh during which season, how to select the proper olive oil and why there is a hugely difference in price for Serrano ham.
The picture to the left shows how the fish were washed and scaled outside to avoid making the market smell and for convenience for the vendors as their fresh fish was brought in from the harbour.
The Santa Caterina Market is one of 40 markets around Barcelona which service 1.6 millions citizens. It is run as a municipal service is is part of the “super-block” which makes the area a place for commerce, a meeting place and a means to encourage a healthier ‘Mediterranean’ lifestyle. With over 62 million visits to these local markets, the city continues to remodel and support this municipal asset.
Santa Caterina was built after the convent and church of the same name burnt down in 1835.
The site currently occupied by the market was home to the church and convent of Santa Caterina, of the Dominican Order or Order of Preachers. Completed in 1268, it was the first Gothic church in the city and a prominent feature of a religious complex which also included the exquisite 14th-century cloister, a vast library and a 40-metre high bell tower with a pointed pinnacle that made it stand out from other bell towers in Barcelona.
These remains of the Cloister from the Monetary were found in 2001.
Sorreno Ham hanging in the window of a shop located across the street from the market
There was on stall with two dozen types of tomatoes. I have a picture of it here on Instagram. Those hanging tomatoes were the once that be bought for out Bread And Tomatoes Tapas for our bcnKitchen Cooking Class in Barcelona.
Bacalla is salted cod. Some of you may not be familiar with this delicacy, it is an ingredient that is often used in Tapas recipes to make Bacalla fish rolls. It is also used in soups and stews.
Sardines are another Tapas special that are eaten either as canned goods or fried. One of the best Tapas I had at the TBEX Costa Brava opening Party at Lloret de Mar were Sardines that had been grilled. They were delicious.
I wanted to include all of these different pictures of fish just so you get an idea of the variety of fish, shellfish and seafood that you can purchase at Santa Caterina Market. It was all fresh and looked delicious.
There was a stand that had Jamon Serrano and it was prices from a 19 Euros up to 110 Euros a kilo. That is $163 CDN a kilo. To say the least, there was not taste testing at these stalls.
There was a stall that sold only Spanish Olive oil and vinegars. They revere olive oil quality almost as much as the French revere wine. The largest number of olives are grown in Spain. So much so that they have imported some of them to Italy. You will most certainly be told that the best olive oil is not in fact from Italy or Greece but from Spain.
These last set of pictures are from a vendor that sold nothing but frozen goods. All of it was flash frozen and looked just as good as the fresh produce. The convenience of being able to add these ingredients to soups, stews or casseroles is evident. There were not just frozen vegetables but pre-cut seafood and fish. I was amazed at the variety of items that they had available to buy.
Market information can be found through the municipal marketing body that manages and maintains the markets. Below is a list and links to the individual markets:
El Fort Pienc
Les Tres Torres
El Bon Pastor
They are all very social. Here is where you can find all of there social media handles.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Turisme Barcelona as part of the TBEX Costa Brava Conference. We came to visit Santa Caterina Market as part of the cooking school lessons from @bcnKITCHES. Many thanks to the market, Chef Alvaro – for being our guide- and the Tourism Board of Barcelona for showing us ‘Barcelona for Barcelovers’.