Prompted by a recent article in a weekend newspaper (Cape Argus, I think) I decided to take a little trip down to Saturday’s Porter Estate Produce Market in Tokai.
Ever in search of alternatives to things mass-produced and lined up impersonally on supermarket shelves, I went to market hoping to find some fresh and tasty foods to take home and consume at my leisure.
More than that, though – I wanted to meet the people who made or grew their products, and catch a glimpse that passion that people in the home-produce/organic business seem to have.
Getting there seemed simple enough. Guided by the directions given in the article I dutifully made my way to Spaanschemacht River Rd, in Constantia, and then prepared to ‘follow the pink pigs’ all the way to market…
Only, there weren’t any… or none that I could see. But, just after passing Constantia Uitsig (on the right in the direction of Steenberg) I spotted a rather large number of cars turning into the entrance to The Range and decided they might be on to something.
Sure enough, a sign for the market soon appeared (though still disappointingly pink-pig-free) and I paid my R5 parking fee (per car), eventually found an open spot (it was really busy) and wandered off towards the gentle hubbub coming from further along the road.
Then, suddenly, there it was, pink pig brazenly emblazoned on fluttering white banner – the Porter Estate Produce Market was at last before me.
I was soon browsing through stalls of wonderful organic veggies (the kind that smell so good you want to take large indulgent bites of them right then and there) and mouth-watering artisan breads (the guys from Knead Bakery were there!).
There were local olive oils on tap (bring your own bottle), freshly sprouted sprouts, heady organic coffees, handmade cheeses of all shapes, sizes, tastes and textures and enticingly aromatic herbal teas aplenty.
The first, the ‘outdoor kitchen’, is where you’ll find farm breakfasts and ‘moerkoffie’ (and other immediate hunger and thirst craving quenchers).
There’s plenty of seating around wooden tables, making for a convivial atmosphere (and aforementioned hubbub).
Wander a little further and you’ll find yourself in the fresh produce section (I forget the name they give it) – all the goodies you can taste before you buy, and then take home with you.
Each stall-holder has an allocated shaded alcove, with a chalk-board sign dangling above, announcing their specialty. In that regard it feels a little bit like an old English market town, rather more orderly than other markets I’ve encountered so far.
And so on to what is currently the smallest section of the market – the arts and crafts bit. It’s rather spread out, and there isn’t much there to fill up the space, but there certainly were some very interesting creations to be found.
Like these beautiful hand-crafted glass beads. This crafter had amazing choker chains, too – the glass all lovingly and time-consumingly moulded into colourful spirals. Very striking.
Well, I quizzed everyone about their wares – what where when how – and walked away eventually with, amongst other things, half a litre of carefully chosen local olive oil (R50 including the bottle – bring your own and it’s R45) and a box of delicious sprouts (R20, complete with tales of what food type is most useful should you perchance be stuck on a desert island – and no, it’s not sprouts).
I liked the market, and I’ll definitely be back soon. It did feel ever so slightly regimented, but the presentation isn’t pretentious, and is practical (for crafters and visitors), so perhaps a bit of structure is a good thing.
Now, if Gerald the bee whisperer was there, selling his splendiferous honey, I’d be there religiously, every Saturday morning – early – ready for my next honey fix… Seeing as the Constantia Country Living Market is no more (*sob*), one can only hope we’ll see Gerald soon at this one instead.
The Porter Estate Produce Market is open every Saturday morning between 9am and 1pm (weather-permitting). Directions are provided here, though that’s not the way I went! There’s a R5 entrance fee (per car) that is donated to the students of Chrysalis Academy who assist with parking. My advice: go early – the market is very popular and the good stuff goes quickest.
I have more photos here. Oh, and, in case you were wondering – the best single foodstuff to have on an island is a coconut (‘top of the nut foodchain’ said the crazy sprout man), apparently.