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Now Open: The Market at Santa Monica Place

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Baked goods, cured meats, imported cheeses, coffee, beer, wine, hand-made chocolates, ice cream sandwiches, and cooking savvy...in a mall? Yep. The Market at Santa Monica Place opens today, rounding out the restaurant and food-shopping options on the third level Dining Deck of the recently-remodeled ocean-side mecca of consumerism.

The philosophy of The Market is laudable, as they aim to unite purveyors of high-quality food and food-related products in a central location that is at once a gathering place and a place to shop. Department stores and, in the later 20th century, malls are known for their boisterous pass-through food halls and courts, so The Market represents somewhat loftier goals, in a, well, loftier locale.

Up on the the top floor, there is less chance for pass-through traffic, though perhaps it is the hope of Santa Monica Place that The Market be considered a destination (equivalent to San Francisco's Ferry Building or New York's Chelsea Market, perhaps). Will you ask the Nordstrom shoe department worker to mind your salumi while you try on some fancy footwear? Tourists and locals alike will surely appreciate having a relaxed but sophisticated spot for a cup of coffee, pastry, after-work or after-sightseeing beer or wine.

The merchants installed in The Market thus far are Beachy Cream ("retro-chic" organic ice cream sandwiches from Malibu), Benedetta (Italian skin care products), Primi Al Mercato (pasta), Norcino Salumeria Cheese Bar (meats and cheeses), Rockenwagner Bakery (breads, pastries and souffles), The Curious Palate (cafe and market), Aurelie: The Cookie Guru (cookies), The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories (teaching kitchen), Venokado (wine shop), Groundwork (coffee), L'Artisan du Chocolat (chocolate and sweets), Magical Blooms (flowers), and N'Ice Cream (organic gelato and sorbet).

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We checked out a pre-opening party last night at The Market and had a little taste of what is available for diners and shoppers.

The Market opens today, May 20th.