The Biscuit Mill’s Neighbourgoods Market has set a benchmark for just how good food markets can be in Cape Town. When it began, some three years ago now, we were blown away by Justin Rhodes’ and Cameron Munro’s initiative, and the award-winning market now features over 100 specialty traders, with a waiting list of something close on 100 as well. It’s an excellent market, one you’d be hardpressed to beat …
Yet, despite my being an avid fan of the market, it’s more than a little pricey to eat there nowadays, and rather intimidating to try and find a spot to warm your bum on a bench whilst you scoff the latest gourment product, given the throngs that descend on Woodstock on any given Saturday morning.
So, for those of you in search of something new that is not only set to be equally as good but also emphasises the local, artisan and sustainability aspect of food, head off to the Earth Fair market in Tokai.
Earth Fair is also an indoor market. It lies in the South Palms (for those of you to whom this means nothing, it’s actually in the same area as Builders Warehouse in Main Road, although behind Bathroom Bizarre). There is plenty of parking, for a start, and there are activities for kids, which for many living in Tokai is something of a godsend on a Saturday morning.
The atmosphere strikes you immediately on walking through the door. There is music pumping through the market that sets the tone, without being at all intrusive – anything but, actually. We didn’t have to move much further than the stall immediately infront of the door for the first ten minutes or so, as the quality biscuits on offer from Empire Cafe so entranced my son that we were quickly in conversation, and Dave readily informed us that he was very happy with the market and was doing extremely well out of it.
When the stall facing the public as they enter the door does such a good marketing job then your work is that much easier, and Jacqui Simpson is someone who knows a thing or two about marketing (it wasn’t too long ago that she was doing just that for a living).
Jacqui has made sure that all of her stallholders are handpicked and sell quality products. There is nothing at the Earth Fair market that isn’t worth more than a cursory glance. This isn’t a market that brings you everything and anything. This is local food at its best. No-one here is even slightly dodgy, and the aim is that here you will easily be able to stock up on the week’s food – fruit, vegetables (organic and local), free range and organic meat, local and organic cheese, bread and biscuits, sustainable fish, local and organic beer – and sit and enjoy a meal whilst you’re at it. And people love it.
Down one side of the warehouse is a seating area, table d’hôte -style, in amongst the ‘fast food’ slow-food-style section where you can enjoy any number of scrumptious meals on offer – gourmet baguettes, falafal pitas, crepes etc. We shared a particularly good (bought on recommendation from our immediate neighbours at the table) Italian-style naan bread prepared with a delectable topping that seemed to consist of tomato and braised onion with free-range beef, topped with fresh rocket, accompanied by a non-traditional, first of its kind in South Africa, honey blonde ale produced by the Birkenhead independent micro-brewery in Stanford (containing wild Stanford fynbos honey) and a carrot juice from the Ethical co-op team.
Alongside is a kids play section that is really great! Tables with blackboard tabletops (how many times has your toddler not burst to draw all over the table!?), sand art, play dough and a series of funky stools on which accompanying parents can sit.
The organic section, immediately alongside the ‘sit and eat’ section, includes smoothies and juices from the Ethical co-op , fresh produce from Funky Greens, and Kids Bites – patties, fish sticks and vegetable balls made from organic produce that are definitely worth sticking in your freezer for lunches or dinners (I bought the fish sticks, which were particularly scrummy and are free of chemicals, preservatives, and made from sustainable fish and organic vegetables – what more can you want from fast food for kids?)
Rudi’s sausages are going to have the tongues wagging sooner rather than later. I am not a meat fan – I definitely don’t do sausage, normally speaking – but the sausages my husband bought were definitely in a league of their own. Rudi’s sausages, not sold by anyone called Rudi (we were entertained by Stephane Bottalico, one of a team of four who have started the business) are free of preservatives, have no MSG, no additives to create bulk, like soya, rusk or potato starch, the spices are hand mixed and only home grown herbs are used, and the meat comes from homegrown pork, lamb and free range beef, organic springbok, eland, wild boar, ostrich and wild goose – all made according to traditional Argentine, French, German, Italian and Spanish sausage recipes. And let me tell you, speaking as a non-meat enthusiast, these guys have got it right!
Next to Rudi’s was Stokkiesdraai biltong – again hormone free, preservative free kudu, ostrich and beef biltong and droë wors – well worth a taste. On the fish side of things you can buy sustainable fish from Fish 4 Africa or the Fish Deli, and people were lining up for cheese from the Constantia Cheesery and Farm Cheese.
The good news is that Earth Fair market is also open on Wednesday evenings from 2pm until 8pm – reason to stock up midweek, and get a wonderful, festive supper in at the same time. Jacqui says that it’s taking a while to warm up, but I have no doubt that Wednesdays will become quite the hit with parents in Tokai, Bergvliet and Muizenberg given time.
Every Saturday 9.00 am – 2.30 pm
Every Wednesday 2.00 pm – 8.00 pm
Telephone: Jacqui on +27 (0)84 220-3856
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- Cape Town Markets & Farm Stalls
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