Farmers Market Update: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

by | Nov 2, 2014
Fruteria mercado vegueta

Fruteria mercado vegueta

Sven von Scheidemann is a writer, living in the Canary Islands since 2004. He fell deeply in love with Gran Canaria and wants to share his passion for this paradise with travelers on his blog Download his latest Free Travel Guide “Triana y Vegueta in one day.”

Farmers Market Update: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

by Sven von Scheidemann

I’ll never forget the first time I smelled fruits and vegetables grown straight from the Canaries. I couldn’t imagine where such a delicious smell would be coming from.

It turned out I was smelling ordinary tomatoes. But not the ones I usually bought in supermarkets in my home country. Not those tomatoes imported from the Netherlands or mainland Spain, deep frozen for weeks in a shipping container.

I´m talking about fresh Canarian tomatoes that smell so rich, sweet, and ripe that you would love to bite into one immediately.

And that’s what I did — while grabbing my mobile phone to tell my family 2,100 miles away how juicy and sweet the local tomatoes taste. These tomatoes don´t have an artificial smell from pesticides I was used to smelling on tomatoes back home.

From that day on, I only wanted to buy fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, so I started exploring the local farmers markets in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

El Mercado de Vegueta

El Mercado de Vegueta

My favorite farmers market is El Mercado de Vegueta, a market hall located in the historic center of the capital where past and present come together.

This municipal market is the oldest market in the city and the perfect place to get fresh foods from the Canary Islands and the rest of the world. All for a reasonable price too.

Once you enter the market hall, your nose turns around in all directions as if on a roller coaster. You smell a delicious mix of flowers, Canarian cheese (Try the Queso de Flor), fresh fish and meat, local and exotic spices, and all kinds of fruits and vegetables from almost 100 stands.

And for me, the best thing of all in the morning is the smell of fresh roasted and milled Arabian coffee with churritos from the coffee bars inside the market.

Local 91 – Aroma y Café

Local 91 – Aroma y Café

At one of the coffee bars where they serve fresh coffee and sweets, you can get tea and freshly ground coffee from all over the world to use at home. Green tea, black tea, Rooibos, Café Colombia, Café Italiano, Café Brasil, Café Kenia or Café de Agaete.

The Cafe de Agaete is from Gran Canaria, the only place in Europe where coffee cultivation remains. And it´s quite a good one. Although a bit expensive, I have to admit. An 8.8-ounce package costs about $19.

But I can tell you it´s worth every penny. At least once in a while, when you just want something very special, or you have something to celebrate. It´s a huge difference from the new type of coffee machines using pads or capsules. Go to Local 91 Aroma y Cafe and give it a try.

The Canarian Cheese

The Canarian Cheese

The Canary Islands are a paradise for cheese lovers like me. I´m addicted to the delicate Canarian cheese, and with about 140 different types of cheeses from the archipelago, you will never get bored from the same taste.

The extraordinary taste and quality of the Canarian cheese is well-known inside and outside the borders. Indigenous goats and sheep from Tenerife, Fuerteventura, and Gran Canaria produce the milk that makes the flavor so special.

Favorite ones to mention are the Queso de Flor, the Cheese with Gofio, or the one with pepper.

Look for labels that read Queso Canario Artenasal to get the best handcrafted local cheese.

Throughout the year, you can get a ton of local fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, figs, papayas, guayabos, potatoes, chard, carrots, pumpkins, and a variety of tropical species that grow only in the Canaries.

Some items are seasonal, such as mangos, dragon fruits, and avocados, but the rest are available all year long.

The harvest time for mangos is from July to November. The dragon fruits’ time is from June to October, and you get the best Canarian avocados from November to April.

My favorite fruit stand inside the market is the one from Jose & Alicia

My favorite fruit stand inside the market is the one from Jose & Alicia

It´s a lovable fruit stand decorated with beautiful details, like chili peppers hanging from the ceilings, historic ship bells, and lots of notes and pictures from celebrities who visited Jose and Alicia, while being surrounded by all the shiny fruit colors and colorful spices.

In addition to fruits and vegetables, they sell all the famous spices from the Canaries. Worth mentioning here is gofio, cumin, mojo verde, mojo rojo, thyme, and garlic. All in one place together with exotic smells from anis, cinnamon, curcuma and many others.

Spices and vegetables from the Canaries

Spices and vegetables from the Canaries

A bit of advice: When you visit them to buy some local fruits, don´t have breakfast beforehand, but do calculate some time for staying with Jose and Alicia. First, because they love to talk to their customers. Second, because they let you taste everything. You don´t even need to ask. You fill your bag with fruits, and Jose is already waiting behind you with a piece of Mango, Ananas or cactus fruit. Enjoy it.

(And don’t be afraid of his huge machete. It´s just for cutting fruits.)

Seafood inside the market hall

Seafood inside the market hall

I don´t want to talk that much about meat. Not only because I rarely eat meat, but because most of the meat you get in this market doesn´t come from the Canary Islands.

However, if you´re open to trying something special, two things are worth tasting:

Morcilla, a sweet boudin with almonds, and Chorizo de Teror, a local version of the famous Spanish sausage.

Although I love Morcilla and Chorizo, I do prefer local fish, which I mostly never touched before I moved to the Canaries.

A great variety of fresh fish in the local markets converted me into an enthusiastic fish eater. Besides several varieties of crab and octopus, you can buy tuna, grouper, sardines, cherne or the pink dentex, and of course the specialty Canarian Lobster.

During my first time in a fish restaurant in Gran Canaria, the waiter recommended Gallo, so I ordered it without knowing what I’d get. It was incredibly delicious, although it´s a tiny type of fish, which looks like a baby piranha.

Here are a few tips on how to choose fish that are good for your health. And remember to ask the owner of the market stand where the fish come from before you buy.

Now you know one of the best places to get fresh local food to maintain a healthy lifestyle while you´re on holidays in Gran Canaria. And of course, it´s a great place to go local and enjoy a cozy atmosphere.

But I warn you, you may never want to eat from a supermarket again.

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10 Responses to “Farmers Market Update: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria”

  1. Diana says:

    I am so jealous of your fresh fruits and veggies!! Yum, enjoy!! Is that dragonfruit?? YUm!

  2. Pat says:

    I like it !!

  3. Anne Ricci says:

    Hi Sven,
    this gives me another reason to go to Las Palmas for our next Spring holidays!

    I love the pictures, they make me want to buy some adobo powder and cook a traditional Canarian dish.

    You’re right, Gallo is amazing, I just made fish stock from Gallo today and it tastes great.


  4. I’m going straight to The Cafe de Agaete.

    Great resource with the fish link too. Those little things can be perilous.

  5. alex says:

    Gallos are triggerfish. There are two here in the Canaries. The little ones with brown skin and a big one with blue skin. Both are sold skinless. They do have big teeth.

  6. arakelian says:

    I will come for Christmas in the island.
    I have a question: there are small shops with local vegetables? In Tenerife I found by mistake, 2 small and not very fancy/commercial, the seller spoke only spanish but the smell and the flavour, and the prices of the local fresh vegetable is unique ( I bought papaya / avocado / banana/oranges with 50 cents 1 kilo). I can live all my holiday eating these :).

    In the morning I found a old car coming with the products and the owner looks like a simple worker. I told him gracias just because he deserves.

  7. Patricia says:

    I was in Gran Canaria back in 2002/2003, but as the internet was still a bit of a new thing for me, I didn’t know the art of googling 🙂 but now, this year, I have finally been able to book another holiday since then and I am really looking forward to it even more than the first time, this time I am coming as a married woman with my husband and not with my female bestfriend as I did back in 2002/2003 which in reality was a drinking holiday really. This time will not only be my 2nd time in Playa Del Ingles but my husband’s first holiday out of UK and not only that, the week we are there will be our 8th wedding anniversary and as we didn’t get a honeymoon, this will be our honeymoon we never had :), so to say the least I am really looking forward to it, and now that the internet is much bigger than before I have been able to read all the wonderful things you can do and get in GC and how to stay safe etc. I was born and lived in South Africa until the age of 9yrs old, since then I have been living in Northern Ireland and been longing for all these years for a guava, but the only close thing we get here is guava in a tin in syrup. So, I suddenly had a thought a few days ago to have a look and see if there is guava in GC & to my delight it is showing me that yes there is indeed and not only that I looked at if I could bring some home with me at the end of the holiday & yes I can 🙂 I will say this, on the first day that we arrive and the markets are open I WILL be going to get that long awaited piece of guava fruit and I will enjoy it with all my heart 🙂 my poor husband has been tormented by me and my stories and longing for guava or guayos as they are called in GC, so I will be letting him try this magnificent fruit 🙂 I will be buy bags of guava for the whole duration of 10 days while we are there along with other fruit as I can imagine taste so much better than store bought in to include bananas and tomatoes, melon etc. Thank you so much for the list of Farmers Markets days and places to attend 🙂 I will indeed make sure to take time to come to at least one of them. I was hoping that there is one in or near Playa Del Ingles & Maspalomas as this is where we are staying at the Koka Apartmentos, but if we need to get a car then I will make sure to do that on another day as I have already booked for our first trip we will arrive at our apartment around midnight/early hours of 15th June and have booked a trip for the 16th, so will have to go on 17th which is a day for ourselves. I have tried to book trips to go on every other day rather than every day, this way we get the day to recoup from the previous day 🙂

    Ok, well, I think I have rabbitted on long enough, but basically in all that I am saying a BIIIIIIG Thank you.

    • Patricia Keenan says:

      Well, we came, we saw & I had my long awaited guavas that I was able to get at the market in Las Palmas. We had a fabulous 10 days & didn’t want to come home. But in saying this we were home a matter of a month & have booked a full 2wks again in November this year again 🙂 if we could move there we’d be doing it in a Heart beat. I will be getting more fruit again, my husband loved the Canadian bananas as apose to the tasteless ones we get here in Northern Ireland. We will be living in Yumbo Centre this time for their gorgeous meals, I had a paela which was absolutely delicious & as he doesn’t eat that sort of thing it was the only place we found that serves up for 1, everywhere else would only serve 2. He had the biggest t-bone steak we had ever seen & he ate every morcel of it, we even went back the night before we left to indulge in the same meal as we loved it that much lol & that is why we will be eating there most of our nights within the 2wks. We had an awesome time on trips, got to know the local restaurants around the area & the people who drag you in which we had a great laugh with when we seen them. So, yes I think this is going to be our once or maybe 2 holidays a year place from here on in 🙂

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