BEST PREPARED FOOD Miami 2004 - The Mercado at Mundo
In addition to an expansive, stylish sit-down restaurant, Norman Van Aken's new Latin-influenced global brasserie Mundo has a sort of secret space: Tucked to one side is a limited but growing take-out market. Van Aken is, of course, the recipe mastermind. But the hands-on magician in the Mercado's kitchen is manager Marsha Orosco -- and her daily changing selection of prepared savories and sweets, while small, is simply scrumptious. Since the Mercado closes at 7:30 p.m., however, well before the restaurant, it is wise to shop before dinner even though schlepping a bulging grocery bag to your table may not be glam. The slight loss of cool will seem like nothing when lunch the next day is a sandwich of ham painted with a tangy/sweet guava and black pepper glaze, accompanied by smoky charred corn salad; or perhaps a container of vatapa, a nutty Brazilian stew packed with seafood, enriched with coconut milk, and enlivened by citrus.