I recently got wind that Cape Town’s Old Biscuit Mill has replicated it’s highly successful Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein. Intrigued, my partner and I decided to check out what all the fuss is about. The market has taken up residence in an unassuming inner city building located at 73 Juta Road and is open every Saturday from 9am to 3pm. If you’re worried about not being able to find the market, don’t. Simply follow the crowds or just keep an eye out for the alley featuring a jaunty sign spelling out ‘Neighbourgoods’.
If you’re also concerned about the location; don’t be. Just keep your wits about you and go with the flow. The market has been intentionally positioned in town with a view to “reviving urban areas and reinventing the public market as a civic institution”. And it appears to be working. The market was packed with people of all colours and creeds who were simply there to enjoy themselves and sample good food.
Thai food stall
And what food! From the moment you walk into the market your senses are bombarded with a multitude of sights, scents and tastes derived from food produced by specialised suppliers and artisanal food fundis. What is more is that you’ll only find home-made, hand crafted and organic products on sale.
There are around 80 stalls to choose from at Neighbourgoods so the trick is to browse first and buy later. Doing so allows you to fully appreciate what the market has to offer and purchase that which appeals to you most. Of course this can only be achieved through sampling all the wares. Each stall has scrumptious ‘taster’ nibbles on display so this doesn’t present a problem.
‘Ooh Samoosas’ was one of the first stalls to catch my eye. The smell of freshly made roti rolls and curries which emanated from this stall was particularly enticing. White port (or fortified wine as it apparently now has to be referred to) was on sale at Peter Bayly’s Wines and people were queuing up for gourmet burgers at ‘Balkan Burgers’.
Heversham Park Farm’s freshly made sticky pork ribs and pork sandwiches were a winner too. The sandwich pork was incredibly succulent and was perfectly accompanied by a choice of tasty relishes, mustard or apple sauce. Delicious Thai dumplings, chicken kebabs and spring rolls were on sale next door to Herversham’s and Breyer’s Deli had rabbit, quail and rich, cold-smoked duck products on display.
Chilli-mint, Prego and classic French were just a few of the flavours on sale at Hannay Sauces and a taste of a nearby cheese stall’s ‘Karoo Crumble’ had our mouths watering. In between tastings, we noticed ‘Gourmet Mushroom’s’ stall was battling to keep up with demand for their mushroom kebabs. The market’s ‘rustic’ pies looked amazing (think beef in red wine sauce and savoury chicken) as did cups of freshly made takeaway soup and rolls.
‘In the Raw’ has set up shop at Neighbourgoods too. All of the products at this stall are gluten and wheat free and surprisingly tasty. ‘Honest’s’ raw, organic chocolate and chocolate spread was moreish and Rachelle’s moist cheesecake, strawberry vanilla, chocolate ginger and death by chocolate cupcakes are definitely worth coming back for.
Other stalls worth mentioning are Daily Bread’s; the Frying Dutchmen; Chrisna’s Olives; Farm Food and Tasty Chips which offers handmade mustard zest, biltong and farm style chicken flavoured chips amongst others. Halaal Jamaican food, oysters, eggs benedict, flavour packed pestos, handcrafted ciders, rainbow coloured smoothies and thin Italian pizzas are also available at the market.
Notably the majority of the products also bore playful names and descriptions. Neighbourgood’s resident sweet and savoury pancake stall is a case in point. ‘Jackson Pollock’ (nutella and banana), ‘Gone with the caramel’ and ‘Fishing for a compliment’ are just a few of the whimsical names listed. Once you’ve emptied your wallet, you can try and find a spot at the market’s tables which have been set up in the centre of the market or you can go upstairs, buy a tequila or brandy at the bar, listen to the music and mingle on the upper deck. Quality crafted clothes, jewellery and home décor items can also be bought on the second floor.
I personally thoroughly enjoyed the market. I think South Africans, specifically those who live in Johannesburg, desperately need venues of this nature and it’s well worth pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to see what the market and the surrounding city has to offer.