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.

Oranjezicht farmers market

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.

Oranjezicht farmers market

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.

Oranjezicht farmers market

Chillis in different shapes, sizes and colours

Oranjezicht farmers market

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

Oranjezicht farmers market

Heirloom tomatoes – juicily bursting with flavour

A table full of squash is a work of art

Oranjezicht farmers market

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.

Oranjezicht farmers market

You’ll find plenty of sweet treats to indulge in

Perfect little pies made in a muffin pan

Oranjezicht farmers market

The sweetest and most custardy of Portuguese custard tarts

Oranjezicht farmers market

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

Oranjezicht market

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.

 

Where to eat and drink on Cape Town’s Bree Street: Part One

So today we’re heading for Cape Town’s Bree Street. It’s on the edge of the City Bowl District (CBD) and I’ve watched the street develop into one of my favourite Cape Town areas. It seems like every year when I return a whole raft of new bars and restaurants have popped up and all the old favourites are still there. Consequently it’s a real challenge to keep up!

In fact, there’s so much going on I’m going to do a series on places you must visit in this buzzy street (lucky you). Here’s Part One.

Every year Bree Street has its Open Streets Day in January. Open Streets is a worldwide movement where a street is closed to traffic and all sorts of events take place. It’s a trend that’s growing in popularity around the world and such a great idea to watch people coming together to enjoy live music, street art, street food and eating and drinking in many of the lovely places.

The Station on Bree

Like at The Station on Bree. They bill themselves as the only underground station in Cape Town and all their signage is modelled on London’s tube system. As a Londoner I felt instantly at home here (I have spent many hours on the Underground after all!!).

Welcome to The Station on Bree

There are plenty of nooks and crannies to be discovered at The Station.

Follow the Underground signs to find your perfect spot

We settled in on the pavement under the enormous tree to enjoy some chilled Castle Light beer and people watching. We even won some Castle Light sunglasses – what style.

Showing off our prize sunglasses

Part of the street was turned into a work of art which everyone contributed to

La Parada

I eat at La Parada regularly – my love for Spain and its food is well documented. The best place in Cape Town for an authentic Spanish experience and food. Close your eyes and it seems like you’re in Spain. There are several La Parada restaurants in Cape Town now – one at Constantia Nek and one in Camps Bay- but this in my opinion is still the best one.

Tender salt and pepper squid and crispy patatas bravas

Fabulous mushrooms topped with a soft-poached egg

Delicately creamy croquettas

An amazing plate of pork belly

Of course, you don’t have to wait for Open Streets to visit Bree Street. Thankfully! Any day is a good day. And on the First Thursday of every month, as well as all the usual attractions,  you’ll have the chance to enjoy art and cultural exhibitions.

I’m going for dinner there next First Thursday. Hooray.

Watch this space for more on my series on Bree Street.

Do you have a favourite place you frequent here? I’d love to hear about it.

The Station on Bree is at 207 Bree Street.

La Parada is at 107 Bree Street.

Food and flowers at beautiful Vergelegen

Today we’re heading to Somerset West and the somewhat unpronounceable Vergelegen. It means “situated far away”. The land was granted to the Governor of the Cape, Willem Adriaan van der Stel in 1700. Since then it’s developed into beautiful gardens that attract visitors from all over the world, a vineyard making lovely wines and also a favourite dining venue. You can choose from three restaurants.

We visited Stables at Vergelegen for a special birthday brunch. We sat outside on a sparkling blue day overlooking the gardens and mountains beyond and happily tucked into Eggs Benedict.

Fabulous garden and mountain views from Stables restaurant

Eggs Benedict at Vergelegen

Delightfully indulgent eggs Benedict

Fabulous gardens to explore

After brunch, a meander through the award-winning gardens. There are 17 of them to explore and a lot of amazing trees – like the Old English oak which is over 300 years old and believed to be the oldest living oak tree in Africa.

The Cape is in the midst of a drought at the moment – resulting in serious water rationing so the gardens were a little dryer than usual, but still a sight to behold. I loved the hydrangeas, they made me homesick for the English summer.

The beautiful hydrangea gardens

The rose garden is packed with bushes in different sizes and colours and wonderful scents. At its centre is the stunning sculpture of Aphrodite. Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and procreation and it’s said that myrtle, roses, doves, sparrows and swans were sacred to her. She must be very happy with her Vergelegen home.

Aphrodite’s statute in pride of place in the rose garden

The herb garden offers more lovely aromas all neatly packaged into a little octagon of perfectly trimmed hedges.

The beautiful herbs at Vergelegen

Rosemary scents the air in the herb garden

Historical Camphor trees

There are five history Camphor trees at Vergelegen, believed to have been planted in 1700 by van der Stel. They were declared national monuments in 1942. The other Camphor trees on the estate are all seedlings from these magnificent five – Camphors obviously are of great importance to the estate. Camphors at Vergelegen is their signature restaurant which was ranked the 10th best restaurant in South Africa in the 2016 Eat Out Mercedes Benz Awards. Better go back and try that one.

Or if you’re after a relaxed al fresco lunch rather, why not Picnic at Vergelegen? Tables are set in the beautiful centuries-old Camphor forest and a tasty picnic brought to you. It’s a charming way to spend an afternoon.

Picnic under the shade of the Camphor trees

Vergelegen is at Lourensford Road, Somerset West.

A fabulous lunch in the Winelands at Clos Malverne

There are few better ways to spend a Saturday than dining in the Cape Winelands (well, for me anyway). Long, lazy afternoons with beautiful sunny views and amazing food and wine. Like at Clos Malvern which is set deep in the Devon Valley near Stellenbosch.

The restaurant has a wrap-around balcony with fabulous views across vines and mountains. Get a table outside and settle in for the delights of their four-course tasting menu. You can go a la carte but believe me, the tasting menu is the way to go. Great choices and even better value for money, today we got four courses for R398 (about £24 at today’s exchange rate). For that, as well as the food, you get a welcome glass of their delicious bubbly and a glass of wine with each course. Plus if you buy a case of wine to take home (and who can resist doing so?) you get R200 off your bill.

The vineyard is owned and run by the Pritchard family and the restaurant serves seasonal, contemporary dishes that are the masterpieces of Executive Chef Nadia Louw Smith.

There are several choices for each course, making for some serious decision making. Quite a few of Nadia’s dishes have a bit of Eastern inspiration, like my fabulous starter – spicy, creamy seafood pot with chilli, coriander, ginger, prawns, calamari and mussels. I could have eaten a whole vat of it! The most delicately flavoured creaminess and the freshest, perfectly cooked seafood to compliment it. I’ll be dreaming of this dish for a while.

The delicately creamy and spicy seafood pot

The smoked sea bass was served with sweet pea aioli, pea shoots, lime dressing, salmon eggs, crispy capers and a red pepper coulis. The flavours and colours of summer.

Sea bass that’s pretty as a picture

The chilled asparagus vichyssoise came with spring onion and lemon creme fraiche, marinated asparagus, a parmesan crisp and a hint of truffle. Rich and velvety with that delicious truffly undertone, a real bowl of luxury.

The wonderful mix of asparagus and truffles

Second course – what a treat to have a course between the starter and the main – and I went meaty. The oak-smoked carpaccio was served with mushroom dust and topped with shimiji mushrooms, humus, sundries tomato strips, dried olives, gran padano and vinaigrette. Who knew dust could taste so good!

Carpaccio piled with little delights

The roast chicken croquette was served with sweet and sour cabbage, thyme and lemon sour cream, caramelised onion puree and a brown onion jus.

A rich and earthy chicken croquette

My South African pork belly tasting odyssey continues (yes, it’s become an odyssey) with this amazing slow roasted dish with confit baby onions, apple jelly, shimiji mushrooms, butternut puree, five spice jus and black garlic mash. What a lovely and exotic combination.

Luscious pork belly and crunchy crackling

The tender, rare springbok loin was bobotie spiced and plated up with creamy butternut and feta risotto, whole grain mustard pickled baby onions (love what she does with her onions) and a red wine jus.

Perfectly rare springbok and creamy risotto

There’s usually a curry on the menu – and it’s always beautifully spiced. Today several of our party tucked into the Badami lamb korma – a traditional Indian curry with almonds, chillis, saffron and cardamom served with savoury rice, sourdough bread and raita.

Lamb korma and all the accompaniments

As an occasional dessert eater, I was thrilled to see my absolute favourite of puddings as an option – panna cotta. Flavoured with saffron, it was served with frozen grapes, strawberries, vanilla meringue, mango coulis and a spearmint shortbread. Beautifully creamy it went perfectly with the fruity spread – and I loved the frozen grapes.

A delightfully colourful dessert plate

The lemon tart came with lime and coconut liqueur ice cream, chilli caramel and a sesame brittle. As it was Trevor’s birthday the next day I organised with the kitchen to make his a birthday dessert plate – happy birthday Trevor. The classic lemon tart went beautifully with the tropical flavours of the ice cream.

Lemon tart and birthday greetings

And here’s the view, just heavenly.

Stunning views across vines to the mountains

Inevitably we left clutching our case of Clos Malverne’s wonderful wines (too much of a bargain to resist that R200 off). I particularly love their bubbles, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet/Merlot blend. Now every time I sip on one of them I’ll be mentally transported back to the glorious Devon Valley.

Clos Malverne is at Devon Valley Road, Stellenbosch

Coffee in Cape Town: Spoilt for choice

Today I’m delighted to have a double-guest contribution to Eating Covent Garden. Nicky Elliot and Yvette Wilsenach live in Cape Town and as a fabulous photographer/writer combination have produced a stunning book called The Coffee Route. It’s their guide to Cape Town’s hottest coffee spots.

It’s a volume of beautiful pictures and useful facts to help enhance the lives of coffee lovers. Each section is prefaced with a map to help plot your route and each entry also includes information about parking, wifi (always important in a coffee shop) and the type of coffee served, as well as ideas of what else to do while you’re in the area.

Here’s what Yvette has to say about Cape Town’s coffee culture.

There is much to say about the beauty of Cape Town. There is the famous Table Mountain, the sea, the colourful Bo-Kaap, the greenery and nature in the middle of the city, the views. But one of the things that I am most grateful for, is the lack of shopping malls.  Make no mistake, we do have them – for example, one is a kilometre long, the other sits in the docks in Cape Town and has stunning views and shops – but we do not really have a mall culture.  Which is great and I believe that it contributes to the individualism of which Capetonians are so proud.

I love the beautifully quirky Bo-Kaap in Central Cape Town

I love the beautifully quirky Bo-Kaap in Central Cape Town

Cape Town has always had a bit of a hippie vibe, with markets like Greenmarket Square and Church Street having been around for decades.  In recent years, say the past decade, this individualism has married with the global rise of a coffee culture and so, thank heaven, we have dozens, if not hundreds of small, quirky and independent coffee shops.

So we wrote a book about some of them, called The Coffee Route. And what does that mean? That means we are constantly being asked, yes, but which is the best? And that is very hard to answer, because it all depends on what you are looking for. It is currently winter in Cape Town, otherwise known as the Cape of Storms, so this is a good time to huddle up in a coffee shop, devour some comforting cake and watch the sea, wind and rain.

Other times, you may need to focus on finishing that deadline. Then you don’t want too much of a distracting view, you need some low-level background activity and waiters who cater to your needs without helicoptering over you as you have just had that brainwave that pulls everything together. Or you want to go somewhere charming, perhaps with some dappled shade, some comfortable cushions, a pile of mags, or meet a friend for lunch. Other times you are dashing in to get a take-away on the way to your yoga class/meeting with a venture capitalist/friend’s birthday tea and before you get to the counter they are making your regular. All of this and more is available on the Cape Town coffee scene and I haven’t even got to the coffee yet!

Ten years ago Origin Coffee opened in Cape Town and was one of the very first home-grown roasters.  Now there are dozens of them in Cape Town itself, not to mention the outlying areas. These guys (men and women) are proud, excited, excitable and adventurous. They are roasting and producing some pretty awesome coffee and experimenting with new ideas, roasts, beans and products.

So yes, if you are a tourist to Cape Town and seeking reassurance, you will be able to find many international brands such as Illy and Lavazza or the ubiquitous Starbucks, currently making its debut in South Africa, but I would urge you to try some of the roasts from Origin, Truth, Deluxe, Rosetta, Tribe and one of their wonderful coffee shops.

And here beautifully photographed by Nicky are some of those wonderful establishments where you can get your daily coffee fix. There’s a lot of choice…

You can follow The Coffee Route on instagram and Facebook for daily inspiration by clicking on the links here.

book

To find out more and buy your own copy of this stunning book visit www.thecoffeeroute.co.za

African-beans-w

At the Bean There Coffee Company, coffee is African sourced, Fair Trade and roasted on site

The welcoming, contemporary interior of Bean There

The welcoming, contemporary interior of Bean There

Deluxe b (1 of 1)

The edgy, masculine interior of Deluxe Coffee in Roodehek Street

Coffee ghost (1 of 1)

Rosetta Coffee is a sophisticated shop with roasters passionate about single origin coffee and its origins

Breafast muffin

High Tea in Southern Suburb, Constantia serves amazing muffins and other delights from talented baker Irma Brummer

Ant cup

The revamped cafe in the Company’s Gardens serves coffee in ant cups under enormous trees

4 & 20 (1 of 1)

Four & Twenty Cafe serves great food and Bean There coffee

abc

Truth is an award winning coffee shop with a huge roaster

Industrial light fittings and plugs dangling from the ceiling encourage people to stay and work

Industrial light fittings and plugs dangling from the ceiling mean that people are encouraged to stay and work

Hout Bay Coffee is a tucked away gem that roasts unique blends on site with African flair

Hout Bay Coffee is a tucked away gem that roasts unique blends on site with African flair

ADDRESS BOOK
Bean There Coffee Company, Wale Street, City Bowl
Deluxe Coffee, Church Street, City Bowl
Deluxe Coffee, Roodehek Street
Rosetta Coffee, Albert Road, Woodstock
The Company’s Garden Restaurant, Queen Victoria Street, City Bowl
High Tea, Constantia Road, Southern Suburbs
Four & Twenty Cafe, Wolfe Street, Wynberg
Truth, Buitenkant Street, City Bowl
Hout Bay Coffee, Princess Street, Hout Bay
Table Mountain (1 of 1)

Beautiful Table Mountain dominates Cape Town’s skyline

Thank you Nicky and Yvette for your contribution. I can’t wait to get back to Cape Town and visit some of your discoveries with you.
Are you an expert on eateries in your area? Or have you been somewhere you really want to tell the world about? I’m always looking for guest contributors to share their stories, so please do get in touch.


Our lovely Sea Point local: La Perla

I love staying on the seafront in Sea Point. There’s so much to love. Sea views from the balcony, lovely promenade walks breathing in the sea air, meandering down Main Road for daily shopping and restaurant visits and of course the people. It’s such a wonderfully diverse area full of people from all walks of lives, in different shapes and sizes and of so many different nationalities.  And there’s always something happening and, inevitably, being discussed – from the price of eggs to who caused that car accident yesterday. How I love the constant Sea Point chatter, you soon feel like you have endless friends.

It’s very easy to slip into the life of a Sea Point local. And as a compulsory part of that life (I’ve decided anyway) you have to make regular visits to La Perla. It’s one of only two restaurants right on Beach Road (it’s mainly apartmentland around here), so it has lovely sea views and is the perfect spot to watch the Sea Point action unfolding.

La Perla has been open about 55 years (not sure of the exact opening date but I do remember that it’s older than me). And I’m  not sure how much has changed in that time. I think some of the waiters may have been at the opening. Service can be somewhat ponderous or too fast – unpredictability is the name of the game. So bear this in mind and go with the flow or you could be in for a somewhat frustrating meal. You can slow down too-fast service and if it’s too slow just relax and enjoy the atmosphere. No one ever truly suffered from taking too long over lunch. Did they??

The menu is classic Italian with a lovely selection of pasta, fish, seafood, salads and veal dishes. Sea Point is veal land, supermarkets are packed with myriad cuts of it, so if you love veal you can’t go wrong ordering it at La Perla.

Their carpaccio is also wonderful and comes in beef, salmon and tuna versions. I enjoyed one of the beef dishes several times through the Sea Point summer. It’s beef carpaccio with a mustard mayonnaise sauce to dream about, rocket and capers. A fabulously salty/sweet combo with melt-in-the-mouth meat.

Carpaccio

Delightfully delicately sliced carpaccio with a sweet mustard mayonnaise

Here’s the salmon version, served with a spicy Asian-style sauce.

IMG_1136

Oysters are often on my lunchtime agenda, my love for these treasures is well documented. The perfect starter – light, healthy and tasty – I just can’t get enough of them.

Today's La Perla oysters came from Namibia. Yum.

Today’s La Perla oysters came from Namibia. Yum.

As you’d expect from a restaurant that’s been around over five decades there are some [retro] classics on the menu. Like prawn cocktail which can be ordered with or without avocado. If you go with it comes packed into avo halves.

Avo

Classic prawn cocktail served in creamy avocados

If you’re not an avo lover, order it without and this lovely glassful of plump prawns appears.

Happiness is...prawn cocktail in a glass

Happiness is…prawn cocktail in a glass

There’s also a classic caprese salad to savour.

The combo of three tasty ingredients makes for a delectable starter

The combo of three tasty ingredients makes for a delectable starter

All the veal dishes are delightful. The veal marsala is so tender you barely have to chew it, the sauce is silken and slightly sweet and it’s served with a generous portion of fresh, perfectly cooked pasta. Just heavenly.

Veal tenderness in a luscious sauce

Veal tenderness in a luscious sauce

The veal involtini is also a firm favourite. Little envelopes of veal are generously stuffed with cheese and served with a fragrant tomato sauce and fresh pasta. Oh so satisfying.

Cheesy, tomatoey veal that melts in the mouth

Cheesy, tomatoey veal that melts in the mouth

There’s always the line fish of the day and when it’s kingklip I often order it. This sweet, fleshy whitefish is perfect grilled and served with La Perla’s lemon butter and some vegetables.

Kingklip

Chunky grilled kingklip with lemony butter

More tender veal served with a rich porcini sauce.

Delight in the earthy mushroom flavours with veal porcini

Delight in the earthy mushroom flavours

I’ve only ever done dessert once at La Perla. I was talked into sharing a Peppermint Crisp tart because I’d never tasted one before and because it’s a South African classic. Made using the Peppermint Crisp bar which I remember delighting over in my childhood, it’s sweet, minty and properly indulgent.

Taste something traditionally South African – peppermint crisp tart

Taste something traditionally South African – peppermint crisp tart

A bit like the many hours I spent lingering over lunch at La Perla. Sparkling sunshine days when I felt happy to be alive. Here’s the view through some pink bubbles. La Perla, I raise my glass to you.

Views of pink and blue and palm trees

Views of pink and blue and palm trees

La Perla is on Beach Road, Sea Point opposite the public swimming pools.