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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Top Moscow Markets: The Insider Information

Good markets are an integral part of all developed food cultures, and Moscow's lively markets signal a developing food culture.

Although many of Moscow's markets have introduced a lot of imported produce in recent years, two of Moscow's better markets, Cheryomushkinsky and Danilovsky, still sell produce that is mostly from the former Soviet Union.

Cheryomushkinsky, while somewhat expensive and occasionally a hang-out for thieves, is an excellent market with a distinct southern flavor. Many of the vendors are from the Caucasus and much of the produce comes from there as well.

Named for a flowering tree, Cheryomushkinsky blooms with Moscow's best variety of fruit and vegetables, dried and fresh spices, and herbs and flowers from Ecuador and Europe -- not to mention fresh fish and delicate slabs of meat.

The newcomer appreciates the orderliness of the place upon entering the gates. One left turn takes you past neat displays of fresh coriander, parsley, celery tops, aniseed and salad greens contrasting with purple basil, hot red chilies and spicy cress (not water cress) from Baku.

Follow the row and you encounter displays of fish so fresh that they still struggle to breathe: sturgeon, trout, catfish and carp, the cheapest fish at 20,000 rubles per kilo.

Along the same row you can find a bargain, if you are willing to take the risk of trying an unofficial source for black caviar (a 600-gram jar costs 60,000 rubles). The eggs weren't the largest I've seen, but the sample I was offered from the blade of a knife tasted quite good.

The range of fresh fruit and vegetables is excellent. On one recent trip, I bought three different kinds of lettuce and some wonderful fennel bulbs.

The quality and range of poultry -- goose, turkey, chicken and duck -- is good. So is the fresh rabbit and hare.

Perhaps most attractive to the shopper, however, are the keen-to-do-business stall owners who happily extol the virtues of their wares while offering cooking tips.

Another one of the big Moscow markets, the Danilovsky rynok, offers a very different feel and layout to Cheryomushkinsky.

The majority of its stalls are located in the open, surrounding the main building and staples like potatoes, onions and cabbage are sold from the backs of trucks. Prices are cheaper but the quality, while acceptable, is reduced.

Danilovsky also provides a wide range of vegetables and fruits, but the variety and quantity of spices is far inferior to those that can be found at Cheryomushkinsky.

One of Danilovsky's drawing cards is an enormous range of pickled vegetables -- dill cucumbers, asparagus, vine leaves, cabbage and varieties of garlic.

Much of Danilovsky's interior is taken up by meat sellers, and the range of red meat is extensive. I recommend meat-shopping only in the winter when the associated smells are less likely to overpower you.

Cheryomushkinsky market, 1/64 Lomonosovsky Prospekt, metro Universitet, 134-2086.

Danilovsky market, 74 Mytnaya Ulitsa, metro Tulskaya, 954-2602.