Street vending in Athens is a lively scene. All matter of food and merchandise is ubiquitous. I highly recommend the sesame seed bread rings (Greek Koulouria) that are kind of a cross between a bagel and a pretzel.
The first idea to take home was the street nut cart that are found with frequency around Athens. Small bags of the usual varieties – your choice of plain, roasted, salted, and/or coated at modest prices for immediate consumption.
Nuts are consumed by nearly everyone and world-wide the top nine sellers in order are almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans macadamias, pine nuts, and Brazil nuts.
We do nuts well at Eastern Market.
Germack’s has a long history of roasting nuts and is credited with inventing the practice of dying pistachio’s red to improve the aesthetics of blemished nuts. No longer sold that way, kids growing up in my day proudly brandished their red lips and fingers after snacking.
Rocky’s Historic Eastern Market features the Eastern Market District’s largest selection of nuts and dried fruits. I enjoy Rocky’s because you can buy in bulk or from a wide sized range of pre-packaged options.
Devries & Co. 1887 is a third option where nuts fill out a wide array of specialty foods.
The idea of cross-promoting these nut options from a cart along the main line of the market offering a snack sized version seems like a solid market vending option. Maybe even a distinctive cart that could end vending at festivals and special events. Who doesn’t like nuts?
So that was my nut story that I planned. Took off to Istanbul saw more than a few nut and dried fruit vendors that rocked. This one from a neighborhood market district near the fabulous ruins of a Roman aqueduct.
Nothing, however, prepared me for the Nuts Factory on the Thessaloniki waterfront promenade. In a trip filled with monuments to living and forgotten gods and shrines to heroes and leaders, I did not expect to find the summit nut / dried fruit retailing experience.
I had been warned that Thessaloniki was the epicenter Greek food scene and my immediate impressions were strong as I wondered to the waterfront promenade on a bright Sunday afternoon.
I encountered countless outdoor cafes, not particularly unusual along the Mediterranean shore but then I turned the corner and bam!
This massive conveyor line was roasting pine nuts; another drum roaster was working its magic. The place smelled great. The aesthetics were unbelievable: dried fruits and nuts presented as gems and rubies. Museum quality presentation of an everyday source of protein and fiber.
Hats off to the Nuts Factory team for hitting one out of the park with a truly exceptional retail experience.