Great foodie shopping at Cape Town’s Oranjezicht Market

Today we’re heading to beautiful Granger Bay close to Cape Town’s Waterfront. How I love a food market and the Oranjezicht farmers market is absolutely fabulous. It’s a community farmers-style market for independent local farmers and artisanal food producers that’s set overlooking the sparkling sea.

There’s plenty of seating where you can relax and munch on the many dishes available and a wide range of stalls to delight. The tempting displays definitely make me buy more, but as I love everything I’ve bought there that’s really not a problem.

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The market looks out over the azure sea

As you walk in you’re greeted by a fabulous floral display, include vibrant bunches of perfect proteas – South Africa’s national flower.

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Beautiful bunches of proteas to take home

Fresh produce

This has got to be the best place in Cape Town to stock up on all the fresh stuff you’re going to need for your week. The fruit and vegetable displays are stunning and everything is of the highest quality. Boxes of fresh figs, massively juicy watermelons, plump grapes, carrots in myriad shades, tomatoes, chillis, herbs, leaves, garlic…well, pretty much whatever that’s seasonal and delicious. Make sure you take a bag – you’re not going to be able to carry it all if you don’t! I think I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Chillis in different shapes, sizes and colours

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How’s this for a vegetable display…almost makes me want to become vegetarian

More chillis to add spice to your life

A fresh herb selection and beans that are purple and yellow

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Heirloom tomatoes – juicily bursting with flavour

A table full of squash is a work of art

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Love the pink oyster mushrooms…and you can even grow your own

Some of the wonderful fruit on offer

There’s also plenty of great-quality meat, cheese, bread, fish and sauces available.

Snacking opportunities and takeaways

As well as all the fresh produce there’s so much to tuck into at once to keep your shopping strength up – or to take home for later feasting. Baked goods, fresh bread, samosas, sushi, pies, wraps, Vietnamese rolls, eggs Benedict, steak rolls in many forms, bacon and egg croissants, bagels..it’s astounding. Here’s a small selection of what’s on offer.

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You’ll find plenty of sweet treats to indulge in

Perfect little pies made in a muffin pan

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The sweetest and most custardy of Portuguese custard tarts

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The chefs are busy with bacon and potato rosti

Oranjezicht farmers market

The colourful sushi selection is described with passion

The prettiest of plants are also on display

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There’s a lot of eating on the go happening here

This is some market – seriously, I could go every week and take a batch of pictures like this showcasing different products – there’s so much on offer here. My advice is to go and see for yourself – and go soon, cos you’re going to want to go back again and again.

You’ll find the Oranjezicht City Farm Market at Granger Bay Boulevard, V&A Waterfront, Cape town.

It is open every Saturday from 9am to 2pm.

Read more about the Oranjezicht City farm by clicking here.

 

Barcelona’s fabulous food market: La Boqueria

So today I’m taking you back to Barcelona to what is probably my favourite bit of a city with so many fabulous parts to it. And you won’t be surprised to hear it involves food! The Mercat de Saint Josep de la Boqueria is possibly the best food market in the world. Well, I’ve not been to a better one and it’s certainly hard to imagine a more magical place packed with tantalising sights and smells.

First mentions of a market here were in 1271 but it wasn’t until 1840 that it was officially agreed to build the structure for what exists today. It’s huge, selling every kind of produce you could desire – fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, offal, olives and preserves, fish, poultry, game, eggs, wine, oils…and there are several tempting-looking bars inside, too.

From the moment I spied (and smelled) the legs of jamon at the entrance I was entranced! The market buzzes with tourists exclaiming over Spanish delights and gasping at some of the other sights (the offal stall doesn’t go down well with most) and locals simply doing their shopping for the day. Here’s some of my favourite stalls in foodie shopping heaven.

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There’s plenty of jamon to taste…I need one of these in my kitchen at home

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This fruit stand doesn’t look real, but it is

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The beautiful seafood bar, love that it’s all displayed in mini boats

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Wild mushrooms to delight, so many of them to choose from!

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One of several bars to quench your thirst at

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Fresh fried fish anyone?

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Even the vegetables are beautiful, love these lettuces

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Bar Central has plenty of food to tempt you

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And of course there are olives, done so many ways

Take time to meander through and buy yourself a picnic, then climb the hill to Gaudi’s Parc Guell to devour your feast. Now that’s a real Barcelona day for me.

You’ll find La Boqueria on Las Ramblas, close to Liceu, Barcelona’s Opera House.

 

Sunday funday at Fourways Farmers Market

I do love a food market so I was excited on a recent visit to Johannesburg when my friend Sharon (a local Joburger) suggested we spent Sunday morning/lunchtime at the Fourways Farmers market.

This beautiful market is set under the trees with plenty of fantastic stalls offering local and home-made produce. Plus there’s breakfast and lunch choices and plenty of drinks to sample. It’s beautifully peaceful and hard to believe you’re pretty much in the middle of a large city. The perfect escape.

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The welcoming sign leads you into the market

One of my favourites was this spicy selection. Pretty much every spice you could imagine, beautifully laid out and tempting you as you inhale their wonderful aromas.

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Let’s get spicy…there’s so much choice

An amazing array of chilli sauces and relishes, with heat to suit all tastes. Simply Wild also has a range of mayos, including delicious garlic and wasabi.

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Time to stock up on chilli flavours

These fried chicken wraps were very much in demand and smelled delectable.

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Lunchtime…tuck into a tasty chicken wrap

There’s no shortage of sweet choices, either. From fudge in myriad flavours, wonderful Turkish Delight, macaroons and plenty of cakes and tarts.

Something sweet to tuck into

Something sweet to snack on

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All roads lead to good things

It’s hard to resist lamb on the spit. This flavoursome meat was stuffed into pittas with tatziki for our satisfying lunch choice. A piece of advice: make sure you sweep the whole market before you decide what you’re going to eat! There’s a large selection, after all it’s always a good thing to know exactly what’s on offer before you commit.

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Succulent lamb to savour

The leafy market was buzzing with people enjoying a sunny Sunday, good food and an amazing atmosphere. There’s also live music to enjoy as you picnic under the trees sipping on a glass of local bubbles.

I’d definitely be a regular if I lived in Joburg – and no doubt would be filling up my cupboards with new delicacies to try. And it’s a great place to absorb some of that friendly “Joburg vibe”…they really do make everyone feel right at home. Thank you Sharon for the local knowledge!

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Dogs are welcome at the market

Fourways Farmers Market is at the Earth Outdoor Nursery, Corner of Monte Casino Boulevard and William Nicol Road, Fourways, Johannesburg.

It’s open from 10am to 3pm on Sundays. Click here to find out more.

Viandas Salamanca: a Proper Spanish deli in The Strand

Living in London is wonderful, there’s always something new to discover. And I can’t tell you how excited I felt when I spotted this place. I visit Spain a lot and love the country, its people and the food. And now there’s a little touch of authentic Spain in, guess where, Covent Garden! Hooray.

Viandas Salamanca sells foodie delights from the Salamanca (north west) area of Spain. The first thing you notice when you walk in is the aroma of ham and cheese filling the air, inhale it and enjoy. One wall is covered with hanging jamons in all their glory, there are fridges full of different meaty delicacies in vacuum packs and cheeses from the region.

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A wall full of jamon…paradise

You can also ask for your jamon to be freshly carved for you off one of the legs that sits temptingly on the counter. Impossible for me to resist!

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Cheese glorious cheese

And then there’s the sandwiches – large baguettes packed full of Spanish jamon – well, overflowing with it really as you can see from the picture below! When you order one you’re given the choice of adding tomato, which is in the form of a little sachet of the tomato concotion that is used on pan con tomate. Lunch really doesn’t get much better than this!

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Looking into the Spanish treasure trove from the street, check out the amazing baguettes

This sort of produce is not cheap, but that’s no surprise as it is of the highest quality and takes a lot of time and love to produce. So go on, treat yourself. I know I did!

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The special pigs are acorn-fed to produce the delectable jamon

Viandas Salamanca is at 99 Strand, London WC2

Celebrate the wonder of herbs

Herbs make all the difference, they are a simple way to add flavour to dishes and enhance the taste of other ingredients. Dried herbs are perfect to use all year round – the must-have store-cupboard ingredient, ensuring a world of choice when you’re cooking. And they also have a wide range of medicinal benefits which is a bonus! Taste and health all in one.

These fragrant and pretty boxes of thyme, rosemary and oregano from Urbangrains are all picked wild from the mountains of Pindos in northern Greece. Even before you open the boxes, you can smell the wonderful aromas. Celebrating the flavours of Mediterranean countries, their uses are many and varied.

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Tempting thyme

Thyme was used by the Ancient Greeks in their baths and they burned it as incense in their temples as they believed it was a source of courage.

It’s a potent herb, so you don’t need to add a lot and it’s wonderfully versatile. Good for roasting with vegetables, in soups, stews and marinades. It’s flavour holds up and develops as it cooks which makes it ideal for slow-cooked dishes. Or add half a teaspoon to a litre of tomato sauce at least an hour before serving for a freshly herby pasta sauce. It also makes an excellent soothing tea for coughs and helps settle the stomach.

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Remarkable rosemary

The rosemary plant’s leaves and blue flowers are often used at weddings and special occasions as an incense to ward off bad influences. It’s also a rich source of vitamins and minerals, is said to be good for stimulating the immune system, increasing circulation and improving digestion. There’s also a widespread belief that it stimulates and strengthens the memory (I could certainly do with some of that). In Ancient Greece students would wear it in their hair while studying. I bet they smelled and looked great, even if it didn’t help with the exams!

Rosemary’s spicy scent is great paired with roast potatoes, lamb and chicken, simply add to the roasting tray and insert some woody stems into your meat before cooking. It also makes an interesting addition to cakes and desserts. I love Rosemary butter generously spread on fresh bread for a tasty snack. Mix 2tsp of dried rosemary with 125g butter, a squeeze of lemon juice, 1tsp mustard and some black pepper. Spoon into a sheet of plastic and roll into a log shape. Then freeze for about half and hour, remove and keep in the fridge to use at your pleasure.

rosemary

Joyous oregano

The name oregano comes from the Greek words oros (mountain) and ganos (joy). The herb grew abundantly on the slopes of Mediterranean countries and must have been a joy to behold with its beautiful foliage and amazing aroma. It is believed to have antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties, is used to treat respiratory tract disorders, stomach cramps and skin disorders like acne and dandruff. In Greece, branches are often used to make crowns for the bride and groom at weddings. I’m loving all the wedding-related herb uses.

Oregano is characteristic of many Greek dishes, especially lamb. Before roasting, squeeze lemon juice over your leg of lamb, rub in and sprinkle with dried oregano. Smells amazing while it’s cooking and tastes even better! It’s also perfect sprinkled liberally on pizza, used in marinades and sauces and with fish and chicken and makes a lovely, soothing tea, add a drop of honey to add a touch of natural sweetness.

oregano-potted

Oh and to freshen up your microwave and indeed your whole kitchen simply put a teaspoon of dried herbs (choose your own flavour) into a bowl half full of water and  microwave for one minute. The herby steam helps to air the amazing aroma of herbs through the house.

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I love the endless possibilities these herbs offer. As I’m finishing this blog I’m aware that my hands smell of Mediterranean herbs (I do like to get close to my subject when I’m writing). If I close my eyes I could almost be on those mountain slopes in Greece!

You can order these boxes of herby delight, as well as a fabulous range of other artisanal ingredients from www.urbangrains.net

Let’s drink…Tasty Greek Mountain Tea from Urbangrains

Last year I visited Greece for the first time (I know, very remiss of me!) and fell totally in love with everything Greek. The magical light, the dazzling blue-and-whiteness, the welcoming people, the breathtaking scenery and the delicious food. And that’s just to get started.

Travel certainly increases my thirst for knowledge, instead of answering my questions I find it makes me think of more. Or is that just me? Anyway, other than going back to Greece ASAP, my other option is to explore more of the country through its produce. Which is a marvellous goal to have.

So imagine how delighted I was to discover Urbangrains. This family-run business sells the  most amazing artisan, often unusual, foods from Greece. Their mission is to get the best-tasting products while also making the least possible impact on the planet. Today I’m drinking their Mountain Tea, also known as Sideritis.

Sideritis comes from a flowering plant that is indigenous to Greece. This you can tell as the dried stems look so beautiful and have an intoxicating floral aroma.

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The stems of Sideritis are pretty as a picture!

The plant is collected wild from the mountains of Pindos in northern Greece at an altitude of 1200 metres and processed by hand. It’s packed with all sorts of good things like flavenoids and essential oils. It’s said to aid digestion, strengthen the immune system, help with colds and allergies and it’s also an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. Rather an exceptional plant, really. And the herbal tea it makes tastes wonderful, too.

Simply pour boiling water over a few stems, let stand for 3 or 4 mins and drink. You can add a drop of honey, a stick of cinnamon or a slice of lemon to enhance the taste, but I like to drink it as it is, it’s perfect that way. My advice is to make a potful, like I did, I guarantee you will polish the whole lot off.

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The tea turns out this lovely golden colour

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The boxes of tea waiting to be unwrapped and enjoyed

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A wonderful new discovery that’s becoming a regular part of my diet – banish those allergies! My love affair with Greece continues…

For more information and to order, visit www.urbangrains.net