City Bowl Market on Hope
One of the best things about living in Cape Town is the markets. We are spoilt for choice, particularly on saturdays with the infamous Neighbourgoods market amongst others. However variety is definitely the spice of life and once I came across a new market opening in the City Bowl, I was determined to check it out.
Now in its fifth week, the City Bowl Market on Hope is the brain child of Madelen Johansson. Situated inside a wonderful old building on Hope Street, this market offers what many others don’t – a warm place to spend your saturday in the Cape Town winter.
There is plenty of indoor seating, with 2 sets of long tables set out in the centre of the market surrounded by comfy stuffed bags. There is also a wealth of seating upstairs next to the small but thoughtfully stocked bar – local beers and organic wine a plenty, although no cider (maybe I will just have to go back to the UK for this!). Another great feature of this market was the music – a live band playing reggae really added to the atmosphere. It would be great if this could become an informal showcase for local bands/artists as well as well as produce!
The market, although small, had a bit of everything. The usual breakfast fare was available and Breakfast Buns, I was pleased to see, were using free range eggs and milk. Other breakfast offerings included fresh sweet and savoury pancakes being enthusiastically tossed by the gentleman behind the Pannekoek cakes stall. A great cup of coffee was had from the chaps at Care for Coffee, perfectly brewing the “Bean There” coffee associated with the Hope project. We also tasted the delicious hot spiced apple juice from Dr Juice – a really great idea for cold, winter mornings, hopefully they will produce equally delicious iced versions for summer!
For those wanting lunch, there was an array of options. We tucked in to a couple of pies from the Gourmet Pantry – these were really tasty, among some of the best pies I’ve had in Cape Town. More traditionally African pies were available, in addition to Cape Malay curries, from another stall, but the draw of Lamb and Rosemary and Steak and Guinness was just too much for us! Food from all around the world was represented. The Jerusalem Shwarma and Seguemagne stalls got a big thumbs up from me for their use of free range chicken in their delicious looking foods. China was represented by the South China noodle factory, whilst other Asian influences could be found in the Thai hake spring rolls from Wild Marine Deli, whose fresh and simple hake and trout fish cakes were also sublime.
As well as catering for tastes in world wide cuisine, there were also many stalls catering for different dietary requirements. At the Drizzle it vegetarian stall I tasted Piadina for the first time – a great Italian take on toasted cheese! Increasingly in Cape Town I’m seeing gluten free offerings and the Hope Street market was no exception, with one stall offering an unusual variety of sweet and savoury, gluten free, baked goods.
Not only a great place to go to eat, this market provided some unique gift ideas and really unusual products. I particularly liked the candy floss and popcorn stall (Caterkid), who also sold seasonings for popcorn – an underated but easy and low fat snack to make at home – great product. Stall holders from the West Coast – Sea Logix had an interesting range of seaweed and kelp based products, ranging from seaweed in its raw form to some great looking chutneys. They also had some potjie pots bubbling away, one with a seafood potjie – taking full advantage of delicious South African seafood, and a traditional mince to be stuffed in to freshly baked vetkoek breads. Not limited to food, there were also a few stalls selling jewellery and other non-edible gifts.
Some markets in the Cape Town area are overloaded with gourmet things to eat and buy but little in the way of affordable produce for your weekly shop. This is not the case at the City Bowl market, which hosts the same local vegetable and fruit producer as Tokai Porter Estate market – my favourite people to get my fruit and veg from each week. I also bought a chunk of gruyere for my sunday breakfast from the cheese stall which had a great variety of local cheeses. We were impressed with the price of a lot of the ingredients available, purchasing a large bag of cinnamon sticks and a sizeable piece of chorizo for just R10 each.
The quality of produce available was only exceeded by the enthusiasm of a lot of the stall holders. We tasted some utterly indulgent brownies from Deacons Food, who also had the most beautifully coloured cupcakes. And after having a thoroughly explained tasting of their full product range, we bought some fantastic green chilli salsa from the Blue Sky Organics stall.
But my favourite stall and stall holder of the market has to be Anya Lourens and her Saszali chocolates. Tasting every bit as beautiful as they looked, these unique chocolates would make a great gift or provide a brilliant talking point post dinner party. Each one comes with a little note within the packaging and the flavours are well thought through, including balsamic vinegar, thyme, malibu, chilli and earl gray tea amongst others, as ingredients. Check out Anya and her beautiful chocolates here.
It was great to see this little market getting busy as we left. I, for one, will definitely be back. Check out the market and sign up for updates, on the website here.