My top food festival? The Cape Town Street Food Festival

Short on time, big on appetite and hungry for a real taste of Cape Town? Dax Villanueva, the man behind popular Cape Town food, wine, travel and lifestyle blog Relax-With-Dax, reckons this Cape Town food festival should be at the top of your list.

Cape Town is well known for its high quality food offerings, but often the street food of a city is a great journey of discovery and a way of meeting different people.

Food trucks are becoming a big thing in Cape Town now, as they are all around the world. For these reasons I like the idea of the Cape Town Street Food Festival. It’s something different and, most importantly, it’s fun!

Be wowed by the interesting creations of the food trucks or get your head around the Gatsby (a giant sandwich stuffed with fried chips and sometimes other ingredients), a local creation that is either horrifying or heavenly depending on your taste. If you’ve never had a bunny chow (a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry), this is your chance.

If you take your food seriously, look out for the conference that runs concurrently and features speakers related to food, creativity and digital.

My top midweek food markets in Cape Town

Cape Town comes into its own on the weekends, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find a great food market during the week, reckons Dax Villanueva, the man behind local food, wine, lifestyle and travel blog Relax-with-Dax.

There are not many midweek food markets: there is Earth Fair Market in Tokai (Wednesdays), the Earth Fair Market at St George’s Mall (Thursdays) and the Noordhoek Community Market (Thursdays).

But I reckon the best midweek market is the City Bowl Market (Thursdays) on Hope Street in Gardens. This market is more about food on Saturdays, while the mid-week market is seriously festive. With over 30 traders plying their wares, the City Bowl Market offers a good mix of food, fashion and accessories. Look out for authentic Durban-style curries, locally-produced limoncello and fantastic Chinese cuisine.

Neighbourgoods Market — Cape Town’s most famous food market

Want a taste of Cape Town’s booming food markets? The Saturday market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock should be your first stop.

Food markets are flourishing in Cape Town, and every weekend hungry locals and tourists flock to wonderful food markets across the city to pick up fresh produce from local farmers, meet food producers turning out artisanal products, and settle in for a lazy Saturday morning of fine food and (perhaps) a little wine.

The Neighbourgoods Market in the Old Biscuit Mill precinct in the vibrant suburb of Woodstock is perhaps the most famous Saturday market in Cape Town – and well worth a visit if you can stand the crowds.

If you can’t, get there by 08h30. Either way you’ll find a market with a split personality. Upfront is a dizzying array of fresh produce, from leafy greens to locally grown mushrooms to raw-milk cheeses.

Hungry visitors head for the back, with food stalls selling Alsace-style pizza, craft beer and chunky steak sandwiches worthy of your hangover. Take your pick.

Don’t forget that Cape Town markets mostly operate on cash, although a few vendors accept payment via the smartphone app SnapScan, which app allows you to process card payments by simply scanning a QR code. It’s becoming widely used in Cape Town, so worth installing if you’re visiting.

Surf, sun, seafood and crazy-cool times at Malkop Rock Festival

Cape Town’s West Coast is spectacularly beautiful, largely under-developed, rugged and a little wild. So are the locals, who can party with the hardest. It’s no surprise, then, that the West Coast was chosen as the location for the annual Malkop (loosely translated as “crazy-head”) Rock Festival, which takes place each year in the December summer heat. Frantz Birkholtz, founder and organiser of Malkop, explains why the West Coast is the perfect setting for this new festival on the circuit.

The decision to launch Malkop happened by accident and then shaped very organically. We were a small group of friends sitting around the fire just outside Lambert’s Bay (on the West Coast) enjoying some drinks, when we started talking about music and how this spot would be perfect for a festival, seeing that there is a huge demand for live music and festivals on the West Coast. The idea became more and more attractive as we went along and the rest is history.

The best part of starting up a new festival is actually working with the artists, seeing how everything is falling in place and feeling the hype of all the people.

The culture on the west coast is very unique and raw. The people run that part of the coast like cowboys. The fishermen like referring to the party goers as ‘malkoppe’. We want the people to have a good time at the festival and to enjoy the culture of ‘malkoppe’ in Lambert’s Bay.

Malkop’s line-up will always be a brilliant combination of old and new. A surfing competition also takes place — the camp site is a mere 200m from the ocean and the world-renowned Muisbosskerm restaurant, where festival goers will enjoy a buffet seafood meal on the last day of the festival.

Take a bite of Cape Town’s culture on this food tour

If the old dictum “you are what you eat” is true, then Cape Town is an unusual mix of umngqusho (a corn and bean stew), pickled fish, melktert (milk tart), ulusu (stewed ox tripe), bobotie (mince curry with a savoury custard) and koeksisters (knotted pastries soaked in syrup). Iain Harris, whose company Coffeebeans Routes runs a cuisine route in Cape Town, chats to us about the link between food and culture.

“As soon as you’re looking at food, you’re looking at history and how people came to be here … You can do a lot of unpacking of how the city came to be and who built it.

Cape Malay food can be found everywhere in the city, and that says a lot about the power of Islam and who has been living in the city historically. There’s so much Cape Malay food in the Bo-Kaap (the neighbourhood directly above the city bowl) because of where people who live there have come from and what brought them here, and how identity persists through food. Their ancestors (slaves during the colonial era, mostly from Malaysia, India, Java and Bengal) brought their food over here. It was a connection to back home, and it was an establishment of their identity here in the Cape.

But the central business district is hardly representative of the diversity of food and culture in Cape Town. For example, if you really want to experience township food, it is almost impossible to experience it in the city centre. You literally have to go to the townships (the areas outside of city centres where non-white people were forced to live during apartheid, the system of enforced racial segregation that ended in 1994).

One of the interesting myths around township food is that everybody’s just eating meat. In fact, if you look carefully, vegetables are the most accessible and the kinds of vegetable dishes that people prepare are pretty wild.

The Cuisine Route food tour we offer is really trying to explore traditional food in Cape Town, so it is mainly looking at isiXhosa and Cape Malay foods, with some gaps in between where perhaps you’ll go to Bean There to sample an organic single origin coffee or to a little pan-African eatery. We are trying to use food as a medium to explore the city quite widely.”

Taste your way through Cape Town at this annual food festival

For a culinary wander through the very finest restaurants the city has to offer, there are few better foodie festivals than the Taste of Cape Town.

It’s often hard to take a snapshot of what’s hot on the city’s culinary trend-map. So what if only the latest and greatest restaurants, as well as the classics, were all in one place, offering a taster of their signature cuisine with the chef behind the grill to share the secrets of their culinary inspiration?

Say hello, then, to Taste of Cape Town.

Taste of Cape Town takes place over three days in April, transforming the fields of the Green Point Cricket Club, a few minutes’ drive from the city centre, into a glorious array of food, wine and fine foodie fare.

The festival typically sees over a dozen restaurants set up shop, with each chef offering a handful of starter-sized portions of their signature dishes, allowing you to mix and match to create an unbeatable Cape Town menu.

There’s also a wide range of exhibitors, ranging from premium drinks brands to artisan food producers and award-winning wineries. Sip, sample and shop to your heart’s content! Alongside the restaurants and exhibitors you’ll also find food-focused tutorials, guided tastings and cocktail masterclasses.

The festival works using its own currency of “crowns”, with each crown costing R5, and dishes costing a varying number of crowns. For instance, in 2015 a crispy pork belly with gingered sweet potato courtesy of Longridge Restaurant would set you back eight crowns, or R40. A bargain.

The best food on Bree Street, Cape Town’s hipster-haven

In the past five years Bree Street has become Cape Town’s hipster-central. From gin dives to tapas bars, bacon emporiums to beard-friendly bakers, here’s where to find the best food on Bree Street.

You’ll never go hungry on Cape Town’s Bree Street, that’s for sure. This broad avenue runs south to north from the upper end of the central business district down to the harbour precinct. It’s been given a new lease on life as artisan producers, trend-setting chefs and hipster-friendly restaurants open up faster than you can say ‘organic small-batch hand-roasted flat-white please’.

The best place to get one of those is at Jason’s Bakery, which has become famous for its amazing croissants and top-notch coffee. There’s a hatch opening onto Bree Street for take-aways and people watching, but plenty of indoor restaurant seating too. Their homemade pies are some of the best in Cape Town.

One block up Bree Street you’ll find Bacon On Bree, the ‘baconporium’ from charcutier Richard Bosman. Think bacon sandwiches, bacon breakfasts and bacon to take-away. If you love bacon, this Bree Street restaurant is for you. Alongside, Culture Club Cheese sells a wide range of local artisan cheeses and has a small menu of light cheese-focused dishes.

A short walk up the hill, Sababa restaurant has a mouth-watering buffet of Mediterranean salads, soups and meat dishes. There are a few small tables indoors and on the pavement, but you could also grab a take-away for a picnic in the nearby Company’s Garden, a spacious public park in Cape Town’s city centre.

These are all great daytime restaurants on Bree Street, but it’s nighttime when Bree Street really comes alive.

Clarke’s Diner has built up a loyal following thanks to its chunky beef burgers served on buttery brioche buns, while across the road Charango is bringing a taste of Nikkei cuisine to Cape Town’s restaurant strip. This blend of Peruvian and Japanese influences is taking the world by storm and the tuna tacos and new-style ceviche at Charango are both excellent.

One block down, La Parada offers authentic Spanish tapas, but don’t miss the platter of Spanish ham, the chickpeas with chorizo or spicy steak on ciabatta. While La Parada is all about good food and good vibes, Chef’s Warehouse across the road is one of the best casual fine dining restaurants in Cape Town, and the early-evening tapas platter from award-winning chef Liam Tomlin is phenomenal. Right next door, Bistro Bizerca is also worth a visit, with superb French-inspired bistro cuisine.

Spoilt for choice? I said you wouldn’t go hungry on Cape Town’s Bree Street.

There’s always country fresh fare at Root 44 food market

If you’re heading out of Cape Town’s city centre and exploring the Stellenbosch winelands, it’s worth stopping in at Root 44 for a taste of country life.

The Root 44 market, situated on Audacia wine estate (on the R44 road that links Stellenbosch and Somerset West, about 30 minutes drive from the city centre), has something for everyone.

Get there early and browse the plentiful stalls laid out with antiques, jewellery, children’s clothing and handcrafted homeware.

Getting thirsty? Audacia wines are on offer, alongside delicious local craft beers. And all that shopping and drinking will no doubt work up an appetite, so take your pick between wood-fired pizza, traditional ‘roosterkoek’ (bread grilled on an open flame), spicy local curry and a wide variety of other options.

There’s no shortage of great produce to take home either… the home-baked breads, charcuterie and local cheese is particularly good here, though.

While there’s live music and plenty of space for adults to kick back and relax, it’s also a child-friendly market. You’ll find funfair entertainment, outdoor jungle gyms and lawns for children to burn off some energy. A hit with the locals and a gem of a find for tourists, Root 44 is well worth a visit on your winelands wandering.

The market is open every Saturday and Sunday from 10h00 to 16h00.

The Foodbarn Deli

With an holistic and vibrantly new age approach to food and all things delicious, The Foodbarn Deli is not only a restaurant, a brilliant catering option for any and all events as well as a jam packed deli containing everything your taste buds could ever yearn for, but it is also an existence of beautiful. All the food on offer in the deli is of the best produce as well as the most beautifully presented, the same can and is said for the restaurant and the manner in which all their catering is done at every event that they have catered for. The Foodbarn deli is a food emporium that welcomes every type of taste, no matter how finicky the taste is. Continue reading “The Foodbarn Deli”