Dear Jo’burg, if you want to know how to do markets right, then please, look further north to your sister Pretoria. The lovely city of Tshwane has a gem of a market called the Hazel Food Market, situated just off the Atterbury off-ramp on the N1 North (The same off-ramp you would use to get to Menlyn)
Having visited twice now, I was impressed both times. The sheer amount of different things available for you to eat/drink/buy are extraordinary. Also, people from Pretoria know how to enjoy a market. None of this “sit on a scratchy hay bale” kind of stuff. They come prepared, with table clothes and crockery or with picnic blankets and toys for the kids. They really make an experience out of it, and I was so jealous that I didn’t bring my picnic blanket when I visited the night market in early November.
The market is open every Saturday from 8 til 2, and once a month in Summer, they have a night market from 5 til 9pm, which I think is much more enjoyable than a daytime market, as you don’t have to contend with the sun beating down, trying to add you to the sunburn survivors list. The next night market is on 7 December, if you want to grab a table, go early, otherwise there is plenty of grass to sit on in the neighbouring garden centre. Hazel Food Market gets packed rather quickly, because it is so popular, but bear with the crowds, have some food and drink with your friends, and chill out for a bit.
I was invited to enjoy a VIP experience, and I got to sample a number of different things on offer. My favourite stand by far was the Amigos Mexican stand (@AmigosMarketMex on twitter). We got to try their Margaritas, which are made fresh while you wait, with lime, tequila and triple sec. They are poured in to a plastic cup (classy) rimmed with a cayenne pepper salt. I love love love Mexican anything, and I was chuffed as chips with the friendliness of the people behind the stand. My boyfriend was more impressed with the craft beer on offer, and he tried the Weiss beer from Draymans Brewery.
Dinner included lamb chops cooked on a big green egg, (which every second person asked about when we were chowing down, everyone clearly loves a good chop), uninspiring flatbread from the world’s most surly store holder, the most delicious home made ice cream from Whisk Away Ice Cream (I had the macadamia one – it was the perfect way to end the meal) and deliciously moist cupcakes from Minkie’s Cupcake Emporium.
We had vouchers to try out other food and drinks, but after eating our body weight in food, I couldn’t bring myself to shove a pie down my *ahem* pie hole.
There are a number of different crafts, clothes, coffee, tea, savoury and sweet treat places, that you have to stop at to buy something to enjoy at home.
For more information on the market as well as directions and a map, please visit www.hazelfoodmarket.co.za