More farmer for me, please

2011-10-07 16:19

The Neighbourgoods Market is the second new food market to open in Joburg this year and both have chosen hip urban venues.

This market, the parent of which is in Cape Town’s Old Biscuit Mill, is on Juta Street in Braamfontein, which is rapidly transforming into a precinct to be seen taking in tea and cocktails.

This is in keeping with the market’s “commitment to urban regeneration and the goal to revive and reinvent the public market as a civic institution”, says the website. I say “amen” to that, though it isn’t quite there yet in Jozi.

Set up in the parking garage of 73 Juta Street, the market is clearly well run.

The tables are uniform, the vendors wear aprons and the cloths all fall to the floor, keeping it neat and tidy. Everyone is friendly and eager to show off their wares and the long communal tables that run through the market add to the sense of community the conveners are so keen to foster.

But it’s biggest failing is that it isn’t entirely what I had hoped for?– a proper farmer’s market like the one in Shongweni in KwaZulu-Natal, which opens at 6am and is done with by 10.30am, leaving the rest of the morning for chores.

The Irene Market near Pretoria is also a good example. It has a dedicated food section that you have to get to early to get the good stuff.

I was hoping that the Neighbourgoods Market would be one where I could take my wicker basket and fill it with organic vegetables (though these are present in small amounts), double yoked chicken eggs fresh from the farm, grass-fed beef steaks and chops from happy lambs.

Instead, it is a variation on a whole lot of other markets – though, granted, a superior one. It concentrates on artisan food makers, which means you can do some of your food shopping here. It is great to buy good bread, but I’d like to be able to buy the flour to make my own.

That said, the artisan breadmakers make fresh loaves, there are also tasty smoked meats and chorizo, dreamily creamy cheeses, darkly delicious micro-brewed beer (though it is brewed in Germany, which is a little worrisome, carbon footprint-wise), handmade pizzas, scrumptious pestos in every variation and really good margaritas (an odd choice for a breakfast market).

If you are looking for somewhere to have a freshly made meal of pancakes or mushroom skewers, paella or pastries dressed in caramelised onions and blue cheese, all washed down with a freshly squeezed fruit juice or ethically made coffee and a tequila chaser, this is the spot.

The market is on two levels, with the top one boasting great views and too few stalls, which insinuates that there is room to grow for this fledgling market.

Perhaps the organisers can be prevailed upon to fill up the rest of the floor space with fresh produce of all kinds.

This would be the best way to fulfill their desire to return the habit of buying fresh and local at the market to our urbanite shopping-mall addled minds.

Also, 9am is way too late to start?– by then I want to be home making breakfast with my just-purchased organic duck eggs and bacon from pampered pigs.

» The Neighbourgoods Market is on Saturdays from 9am to 3pm at 73 Juta Street, Braamfontein, central Joburg

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