Organic Juice at the Stellenbosch Slow Food MarketEarly on Saturday morning I made the trip out into the countryside to see if the new Stellenbosch Fresh Goods Market was everything it had promised to be

As I stepped over the threshold and caught sight of the food stalls to either side of me, I knew I was going to be there for a while… (my spontaneous drooling was the tip-off… mental note: remember to eat breakfast before leaving home, to minimise on future bouts of unflattering, gaping-mouthed behaviour).

I felt like I was back in London, at the Borough Market, weaving my way through stalls creaking under the weight of some of most delicious munchies I’d ever clapped greedy eyes upon.

Where to begin? There were organic pestos of all kinds, mouth-watering home-made breads (the smell of which nearly drove me mad with unfulfillable desire – damn those wheat-intolerant genes of mine!), olive tapenades, superbly decorated pastries (pah! no wheat-free ones as yet, though they’re considering making some at some stage), some of the most enormous olives I have ever seen… and, well, so so much more.

A few of the stalls were particularly enticing, and I stopped to find out more:

Absolute Food – ‘Catering for Special Dietary Needs’Absolute Food - wheat-free goodies!

These guys bake for those of us fussy folk who have sensitivities to things like wheat, yeast, gluten, dairy, eggs etc. I brought a small packet of wheat-free brownies (R5) and a loaf of wheat-free, yeast-free bread (R25). Both were delicious, and ever so fresh.

Absolute Food is run by Janine Pienaar, who can be contacted on 021 910 1220 (she caters for functions, too).

The Original Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight - click for a larger imageI’m not really a sweet tooth (with a few exceptions), but these Turkish Delights are lovely. They’re made the slow way, without using glycerine (they make it themselves, from corn starch, if I heard right), and come in a larger array of flavours than I’ve ever encountered before: rose, orange, chocolate, ginger, pistachio/hazel/almond and more.

I bought two packets for R12 each (the pistachio/hazel/almond one is delicious!). There’s more info about this stall on the market website.

Chrisna’s Olives

Chrisna’s Olives - click image for larger pictureBucketloads of juicy olives… including ginormous green monsters that are going to take me all week to finish (and I don’t normally like green olives… curiouser and curiouser).

All the olives are organic, of course, and marinaded or salted by hand – they’re available in two tub-sizes (either R20 or R35). One taste of their green olive and almond pesto (R20) and I was gibbering incoherently… (that’s going down way faster than the gargantuan olive beasts).

The Fish Deli

Fish Deli - click for larger imageA true family business, this. The son catches the fish (snoek), the father smokes it by hand, and the mother whips it up into ever-so tasty snoek pate that’s nothing at all like the generic stuff you get in the supermarket.

All the ingredients for the pate are sourced from local farms and the result is a fresh, delicious treat (and a bargain, at R14 a tub).

Last Thyme Farm – ‘pure organic essential oils’

Last Thyme - click on image for larger picturePretty blue bottles full of locally (organically) distilled essential oils. What I liked most was that there were some essences I’ve never seen anywhere else: Cape Snow Bush, for example.

Alan Williams has a lot to say about his essential oils, and I tried so many different kinds that I ended up smelling like I’d been rolling around in fragrant brush all day.

In the end I bought a bottle of pungent Eucalyptus oil for R20 – apparently not the common Eucalyptus, but a smaller round-leafed version with a subtly different (sweeter) scent.

What a day I had! And those are but a few of the many enticing stalls, so I guess I’ll just have to go back again soon (poor me). One of my favourite things about a market like this one is the friendliness of the people, and their willingness to share their foodie knowledge (and passion) to the curious.

These are people who love what they’re doing, and you can taste it.

It’s a long drive, compared to my other weekend market haunts, so I might not get there every week (unless you’re going to make a day of it, it doesn’t make environmental sense to drive all the way out there just for a couple of hours – in my opinion), but I will definitely be back again, and regularly at that.

Favourite discovery of the day: definitely the green olive and almond pesto at ‘Chrishna’s Olives’ (superbly piquant!).

The Stellenbosch Fresh Goods Market is on every Saturday from 9am to 4pm at the Dorpstreet square in Bosman’s Crossing trading village in Stellenbosch. Ignore the plain black-and-white ‘Market’ sign at Oude Libertas and drive on – the estate has its own market on Saturdays, but it’s not quite the same! Directions available here.

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