Düsseldorf has the reputation to be a posh city. The market at the Carlsplatz reflects this as well.
Strangely enough the Carlsplatz market is not listed in the city’s directory of markets, despite the size and downtown location (see map below), which makes it also interesting for tourists. But the market has it’s own website at least, so it is fairly easy to get some information – when you are ready for German.
The market consists of approximately 60 permanent stalls covered by a glass roof which makes it easy to do purchases or having a snack independent of the weather. The offering is very diverse from local to international/exotic produce and delicacies. This makes it easy to find the right ingredients even for unusual recipes. For serious cooks of the area certainly a must go.
So what is the offering?
Basically everything to be eaten. I found so many items which are rare to find, be it because they are truly exotic, rarely used in the kitchen or just out of season. The latter is not necessarily to my liking, but …
So I will focus on the stalls which got my special attention. And I will start with simple potatoes.
The potato stall
The potato stall impressed me the most on this market. I love potatoes with character and flavour and they are not always easy to find. Therefore it was revealing to find probably more than 40 varieties coming from the potato country of origin (Peru), Scotland, France, Netherlands, Germany … you name it, resulting in a large range of types of starch and colours, from white to even blue. I am not sure if I saw Idaho potatoes though.
The vendor offered this large choice for the first season and seemed to be happy with the success. It took him some time to find whole sellers who could deliver in consistent quantities all the varieties. For me it was worth the effort. Hopefully the vendor will continue next season with the same offering as well.
What TV cooking shows do to us
The spice stall had such a large offer, ready for any kind of cooking book. As it is still in fashion, many types of salt were available, the same was true for peppercorns. So I asked the lady about the current hip stuff. She told me that TV cooking shows have the largest influence. She can predict which spice mixe will be in demand the next day. Currently Ras El Hanout and Garam Masala are en vogue. She questioned the preferences of the fashion at times, but it still means business.
The pasta lady
The fresh pasta being sold in all kinds of colours, shapes and fillings comes from Berlin. The owner explained that they are made by former Michelin star chefs who preferred a – hopefully – less stressing lifestyle. The fillings of the pasta are really unique: ricotta with honey on red beet pasta, Zucchini with raw ham to name a few.
I was wondering why the pasta lady did not offer some meals to attract more customers. Well, as the city wants to keep the market as a produce market and not a street food market, she did not get a concession yet, despite other stalls offering food. She noticed that on days where people eat at the market, she sells less produce, therefore making such an offering tricky for her.
Family business: basket maker
To my surprise there was a basket maker booth. The fairly young basket maker was in the process of fixing a chair for a customer, when he explained why he was doing business at this place. He preferred to go where the customers are instead of them having to look for him. Customers usually want to have some chairs or other furniture fixed, often heritage items or new designer furniture. Repairing on site helps him to get the trust of the clientele as they can watch him working his craft (see picture gallery). The gentleman took over the stall from an old man who had died some 5 years ago. He explained that the craft of basket making is something which needs to be learned over a long period of time, therefore it is often a family business. He hopes his son will continue the family tradition.
Yes there is plenty to eat on the spot: from local to international. On the local side there is the obligatory Bratwurst, but also Reibekuchen, a potato pancake or fritter which is often eaten with apple sauce (you don’t have to – see gallery for close up). Then you have shrimp rolls, oysters, antipasti, Iranian specialities like yoghurt with rose petals, tartlets, … The cuisine is Asian, Bavarian, French and where ever from. Coffee is being roasted on the spot and the result is truly delicious (Kaffee Reich).
Be aware that the queues are getting long around lunch time.
Well, all kinds of local and exotic vegetables and fruit are available. There are some butchers, an organic one as well, but it seemed to me that the choice was not as good as at the Rodenkirchen market in nearby Cologne. Saying that: do not forget that Düsseldorf and Cologne live their rivalry with great passion. There was quite a lot of US beef available, which is mostly better than the German one. In Rodenkirchen there is one shop near the market with Argentinian beef 🙂
The cheese stalls are good, though not overwhelming. I was surprised by one stall focusing on true Dutch cheese, not the cheap and tasteless stuff you get usually in Germany. A piece of 3 year old Gouda is now in my possession with great pride.
Home made Italian style antipasti caught my eyes and taste buds. I forgot to buy the famous Persian nougat – but at least I made a picture (gallery). The last time I ate it was in my childhood and I still remember it. Next time I probably buy some geese eggs, as I never tasted them.
Well 60 booths have more to offer than you can discover on a single morning.
All in all: the broad offering and the many discoveries of rare produce make this market stand out from the crowd. For me the potato stall would be reason enough to visit it again. Still there is a lot to discover.
A little link list