The Fresh Market in Bradenton a boon for The Friendly City

August 19, 2012 

Sure, the drive to University Parkway isn't bad.

But we wanted to frequent the new store in our neighborhood.

So for months we glanced over at the construction at the Northwest Promenade in the 6700 block of Manatee Avenue West.

And counted down the days.

On Wednesday morning, it finally happened.

We joined thousands of other foodies for the grand opening of The Fresh Market.

"It's like Christmas," my fiancee whispered to me moments after we entered.

And like wide-eyed children surveying a living room full of presents, we walked the aisles of the gourmet grocery store.

The smell of freshly brewed coffee and bread straight out of the oven helped set the mood.

So did the soft lighting, antique decor and classical music.

We carefully inspected everything from the large selection of locally grown, organic produce to the fresh Florida seafood.

(I immediately made a mental note of the floral/gift department.)

We ran into acclaimed chef Gaetano Cannato, owner of Ortygia restaurant in the Village of Arts.

Also said hello to Holly Rizzo, the Manatee High School student who can be seen singing and dancing in the Manatee Players' current production of "Legally Blonde."

The Fresh Market was crowded, sure, but not nearly enough to dampen our enthusiasm.

Around every corner we found a new delight:

Aged beef.

Wild fish.

Thirty kinds of freshly baked bread.

Fourteen varieties of pies.

Olive bar.

Sushi being made right before our eyes.

Two-hundred varieties of imported and domestic cheese.

Beer and wine from around the world.

We were overwhelmed.

In just about the best way possible.

As of Friday morning, we have made four trips to The Fresh Market.

Highlights include:

* Cooked lemon dill salmon fillets ($7.98 each).

* The Harvest Pork and Brie and Mile High Turkey rotisserie sandwiches ($6.99 each).

* Lemon orzo salad ($5.99/lb.).

* Handmade fruit tart ($3.99).

* Tiramisu ($3.79).

* Peanut butter yogurt pretzels ($2.17).

* The salad I made with organic romaine lettuce ($3.99) and an organic red onion ($1.89).

Chances are, by the time you're reading this, the list will have grown.

Maybe even doubled.

We love just walking around the place.

And, yes, buying delectable goodies.

More than a grocery store, The Fresh Market is a destination spot.

And a great addition to The Friendly City.

Wade Tatangelo, features writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow Twitter.com/wtatangelo.

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