Neighbourhood markets are springing up like porcini in a pine forest after rain, and Stellenbosch now boasts several, three of which opened for the first time this spring. So off I went with husband dearest to investigate some of them.
The Spier market re-opened at the end of October in their fabulous Werf space. The Werf (farmyard) is a giant lawned courtyard, dotted with huge oaks and granite boulders, and surrounded on 3 sides by historic Cape Dutch buildings of thick white walls, thatched roofs and exquisite gables, all impeccably restored.
As with Spier itself, the emphasis is on suppliers who produce sustainably and ethically, and these vendors present their wares at little pop up stands covered with umbrella striped awnings. There are fresh vegetables and flowers, free range eggs, grass fed beef, cheeses, pesto and pastries, Spier wine and Hoghouse beers and bread.
When we visited there was giant spit braai where two enormous beasts were being roasted, the one a Limousin ox from Spier, the other an Angus heifer from Boschendal. A pile of meat from both roasts and enough to feed four people was sliced directly into our container and husband dearest was a very happy man.
There is an entrepreneurial feel to the stalls, and plenty of space gives a lovely relaxed feel to the market.
Our verdict: We recommend this for its beautiful surroundings and interesting stalls. We will go back.
Spier is situated on the R310 between the N2 and Stellenbosch and the Werf market is open every Saturday from 9:00 until 14:00.
Lourensford Harvest Market
This market re-opened in a custom designed space on the beautiful Lourensford wine estate in October this year. It deserves full marks for clever architecture; three sides of a rectangle house the stalls, wrapped around the courtyard where visitors can sit down to enjoy what they have bought and listen to the live music. The triple height structure, executed in raw brick, raw wood, cement and steel, along with open sides, provides cover while still managing to keep a feeling of being outdoors.
The stall holder selection is also pretty smart, covering a multitude of food offerings–coffee, ice cream, pancakes, fungi, olives, spices, cured meats, biltong, pizza, dim sum, summer cocktails and chocolates- all well presented and artfully branded. The craft beer brand here is ABru, the Windemere cider is from Elgin, and of course, you can enjoy the range of Lourensford wines. Children will love the tractor ride from the parking lot, and for R30 you can leave them to play on the jumping castles while you shop till you drop.
Our verdict: good quality vendors will appeal to the affluent market in Somerset West. I felt it was slick and stylish but a little light on soul and spontaneity.
Lourensford estate is situated in Somerset West and the market is open every Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 15:00.
This market opened at the end of August in that wonderful area that has been reclaimed from what was once a dynamite factory. Paardevlei is home to a huge wetland, lovely old Herbert Baker buildings, a winery, the cheetah sanctuary, and the Triggerfish craft brewery.
It is at the latter that you will find the market, in the barn–like structures of the brewery and spilling out onto the surrounding spaces. What struck us immediately was the strong emphasis on fresh produce, much of it organic. Chartreuse-coloured romanesco broccoli, tight white cauliflower heads, giant purple pearls of eggplant, shiny red peppers, crunchy green beans all heaped in wicker baskets and all way cheaper than the supermarket. There were micro-herbs and a man named Mel was selling gorgeous fresh cut flowers. There is a bakery on the premise and the sweet smell of loaves just out of the oven makes you instantly hungry. Coffee, artisan cheese, fine pastries, along with craft beer and boutique bubbly all tempt you to taste and stay a while.
Our verdict: we agree that this market scores highly on friendly people and we would go back regularly to stock up on the fresh produce.
(Note:Problems with landlords meant that the Paardevlei market stopped trading for 3 months at the end of 2015 but on 14 February 2016 it re-opened in new premises in the same precinct. We haven’t had a chance to revisit it, but we are sure it will thrive in its new venue.)
Paardevlei is situated off the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, and is open every Saturday from 9:00 to 14:00.
Situated on Audacia wine estate, this market has grown dramatically since its start in 2013. It is in a lovely setting with vineyard views and rugged mountains. It is housed in a series of large sturdy marquees, so is not weather dependant.
There is a Camden Road atmosphere in the first marquee with a mix of typical market merchandise: clothing, jewellery, bric-a -brac, old frames, henna tattoos and curios. In another marquee there are leather couches, rugs, and picture frames on sale. An adjoining marquee houses the food stalls with a wide range of good value take out food on offer including boerewors rolls, burgers, wraps, lamb kebabs, spring rolls and fish and chips.
There are heaps of outside tables to sit at, and a playground area for children. You can also treat the kids to The World of Adventure, a giant tented and supervised world of bouncing castles, slides and jungle gyms, so that you can sit back to enjoy your wine, the view and the bands that play over summer weekends.
Audacia have brought out an innovative wine range wine using rooibos wood rather than suphites and there is a fascinating tasting called the Red Revolution that covers craft beer, the no-sulphite wines and a rooibos wooded apple cider.
Our verdict: husband dearest thought the stalls were boring, and didn’t like being in a marquee when the sun was shining. I thought it was a fun location to eat inexpensive freshly prepared food and hang out in the sunshine over some good wines. Perfect for the Stellenbosch students.
Root 44 is on the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West and is open on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 16:00.
This market is set among old oaks and vineyards with the whitewashed walls of Oude Libertas as backdrop. Bedouin tents cover the courtyard in poor weather and act as shade in the hot summer. This market was started in 2008 and its whole ethos is around the slow food movement, locally produced ethical food.
Outside, there are stalls selling clothing, plants, cow hides and crafts and you can enjoy freshly made pizzas and deep fried Belgian frietjies. There is background music and Distell run product tastings. When we visited, it was Sedgewicks Old Brown sherry in the limelight.
Inside the main building is foodie heaven. Hand–reared ducks and chickens, smoked trout, charcuterie, home baked tarts, frosted cakes, mouth-watering macaroons and specialty teas had me dizzy with temptation. There were lovely breads, and yummy jams and chutneys to spread on them. I loved the stripy aprons all the vendors (or should I call them purveyors) wear. These folk know their food.
Our verdict: we will be back, this time with more cash in hand!
The Stellenbosch Slow Market is at Oude Libertas on the R310 , opposite Distell and is open every Saturday from 09:00 to 14:00.