Thursday, November 3, 2011

Las Palapas Mercado

It’s November. The days are shorter, and the world feels a little grey. But all that changes when I step inside Las Palapas Mercado on Broadway Avenue. All of a sudden, I’m surrounded by colour, warmth and energy.

Las Palapas Mercado is a new initiative from the owners of Las Palapas Resort Grill on Victoria Avenue. The front section of the store is a magical emporium filled with intriguing wall art, handblown glassware, vivid pottery and amusing statues.

Tables made from reclaimed wood have character and weight. There are traditional tortilla presses and Mexican cookware amidst the wealth of colour, shape and feel.

The grocery section is at the rear of the store. You’re invited to touch and smell the Mexican oregano and the hibiscus blossoms, and heat lovers will appreciate the wide variety of dried chili peppers and hot sauces. There’s Mexican cinnamon, epazote and ground annatto seeds as well as enormous cans of hominy corn, crushed tomatillos and green tomatoes.

There are jars of nopalitos (pickled tender cactus), chilpotle pepper in adobo sauce, cuitlacoche (corn truffle), horchata and Abuelita chocolate mixes, and everything you need to make your own tamales.

The large cooler is full of ready-made meals from Las Palapas restaurant. I enjoyed enchiladas frijoles y maiz, but there are also chickpea burritos, tamales, coconut shrimp, carnes and salsas . There are four different kinds of queso fresco. The corn tortillas are fresh daily, and there’s a wide selection of Mexican soft drinks from Coca Cola made with cane sugar to sidral (carbonated apple juice) and virgin sangria.

The candy section will delight your inner child with peanut butter marzipan, guava and tamarind jellies, plastic tubes that grow candy hair, coconut roll-ups and all sorts of other unexpected goodies. At least, they are unexpected to most North Americans, but latino eyes light up with delight to see some of their childhood favourites now available in Saskatoon.

Jaimie, the store’s manager, tells me that they are planning to extend the grocery section and are happy to take requests from the latino community.

Visit Las Palapas Mercado. It’s sure to add a ray of sunshine to your day.

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