A visit to the largest farmer’s market in the Midwest is also a cultural exploration with all the different spice shops at City Market in Kansas City, MO. Be transported to a souk in Morocco.
When I started researching what else was there to see in Kansas City since I went to attend a blogging conference there, on the top of my list of places to visit was City Market. City Market is host to the largest farmer’s market in the Midwest…but it is so much more than a farmer’s market.
I almost didn’t get to visit if I had listened to everyone including the staff at my hotel who all told me it would most likely be closed on Easter Sunday. Although the other stationary markets there are open daily, the farmer’s market is only there on weekends so I didn’t want to miss it. I did an extensive search and everywhere online it said it was open daily, with no holiday closures listed. My hotel shuttle took me to the market even though he thought we would just be returning back home and lo and behold, it was open. I got out of the car and did a little happy dance!!!
After going through the impressive arch, I wasn’t too impressed. You are first greeted with basically yard sale items. People come out with card tables and set up old stuff to sell, mostly junk. I’m perusing through the junk and thinking, where’s the market? Finally, I look all around me and see it at the other end.
The perimeter of the market are permanent store fronts that include mostly restaurants and other food stores. There is also an entrance to a small mall that includes some variety stores. The diversity of food options in Kansas City and especially at the City Market, really surprised me. When I think of Kansas City, I think of Kansas and The Wizard of Oz movie. I thought I would be eating nothing but burgers, fried chicken and BBQ in Kansas City. Boy was I wrong! The restaurants include Brazilian, Mexican and even an Ethiopian option.
In the middle of the market, in front of the store fronts, is the large farmer’s market. A large variety of produce available at half the price of what I pay here in NY. As a foodie and a chef, the treasure trove of City Market are the two spice markets. You feel like you’ve stepped into one of those souk markets you may have seen on TV in Cairo or Tangier. Long rows of open spices, sold at $1-$2 a scoop. Vibrant, green dried parsley that looks and smells fresher than the ones we get in the supermarket that has been sitting on a shelf for who knows how long?
The owner gets the freshly dried spices in from California weekly.
They had all the normal spices I can get in New York, however if I didn’t have to worry about paying for luggage overweight, I would have indulged more in these freshly dried spices.
I mostly bought spice blends I haven’t seen in NY, like dried jalapeno powder, as well as applewood smoke and KC barbecue seasoning to try my hand at some Kansas City barbecue.
Nuts and seeds galore were also available. Nuts have become very expensive and some like pistachios and Macadamia have really become outside my budget in NY. At a fraction of the cost, I brought home a big bag of each.
Many other Middle Eastern products were also available like cheeses, Halal meat, teas and sweet treats. This is all available at Al Habashi House.
There is also a small restaurant attached where you can things like falafel and schwarma.
Next is Tikka House. They also have the spices set us identical to Al Habashi with a small restaurant attached Many people told me about this “Indian” restaurant in Kansas City. Oh you poor Kansas City residents..if you only knew what Indian food was… feta cheese pita pockets? The only thing Indian about this place was the line of Shaan products available for sale on the wall.
However, the Hibiscus Iced Tea with rosewater, honey and tamarind was delicious here. It hit the spot on the warm Spring day.
Chef, foodie or food enthusiast, City Market isn’t to be missed!