On a crisp, clear autumn Wednesday a friend and I made the drive out towards Stellenbosch for the Asara Pure Food Harvest Market.
I’d been wanting to go since the estate held their first market in mid-December last year (I unfortunately couldn’t make it). I love weekly markets, but there’s something of a sense of occasion that goes with a market that’s held only quarterly (seasonally), so I was looking forward to seeing what the estate had planned.
We were a little early, but everything was already set up beautifully in Asara’s pretty courtyard, with its exceptional view. I was immediately impressed by the presentation – really classy, and the courtyard was very welcoming and well laid out.
There was a great array of traders, I thought. A variety of delicious cheeses, including organic goat cheeses from Alpine Goats Cheese in Napier, olives and olive oils from nearby farms, tempting loaves of crusty ciabatta, delectable charcuterie, fresh organic vegetables – the list goes on and on!
The stalls lined the courtyard (some inside as well), with its fountain at the centre, and seating was provided so that you could grab a bite or a drink and sit comfortably (as it got busier, seating was harder to come by – but there were stairs and plenty of lawn to use if you weren’t quick enough).
I was pleased to see artisan brewers, Darling Brew, amongst the drinks offerings.
The atmosphere was friendly and bubbly, and if I hadn’t had to go on to another engagement, I could very well have lazed the day away there, snacking on this and that, and sipping some of the local wines.
Not only was the market fantastic, though, Asara’s own food deli is lovely as well. I had no idea they had one – but because we needed a caffeine boost, we stepped inside to check it out, and I loved it. Rows and rows of pretty chocolates and ever-so-tempting macaroons, as well as what looked like a good selection of savoury treats as well. On the shelves, biscuits, meringues and fudge.
Something I would love to see at upcoming harvest markets is more of a seasonal theme. Seeing as they are (or seem to be so far) based on a quarterly timeline, it seems the perfect opportunity to focus on the ‘harvest’ and theme the market around produce that’s specifically available in that season (strawberries in summer, peas in winter – that sort of thing).
That said, I can’t wait for the next market – I enjoyed myself immensely. And, next time I’m near Stellenbosch, market or no market, I’ll definitely be stopping by Asara again, to tempt myself with something from their deli, and perhaps just to sit and enjoy their fantabulous view.