…any fresher and pigs might fly.
Porter’s is a fresh food market, no mistake. The smell of moer koffie and bacon greet you.
‘We styled it after old European markets where people come to hand-select fresh produce and catch up with friends,’ said Gail Coetzee, the market manager, in a polo-neck jersey with her hair in a pony tail.
“About a quarter of the stalls are organic; our policy is ‘as natural as possible.'”
The market is in a woodsy setting that attracts urbanites like flies. It’s interesting how we long for Nature and to feel that we are getting out of doors and out of town. But even if it’s the new urban shopping trend, and a little bit pretend, it’s a positive move. Gail and her restaurateur clan started Porter’s 3 years ago when they began having kids and wanted a place in Nature to take them. They leased a field on the Porter Farm in Tokai and put up the infrastructure: wooden stalls, rustic tables, and a huge sandpit. Today cyclists are having a health breakfast, people are browsing with dogs and children, and everyone is choosing home-made food for a cold weekend.
The Imhoff Cheese stall is amazing. Organic goat and cow cheeses are sold by the cheese maker, Geneve, a new-South African woman trained on the farm, generous with knowledge, and with a beautiful smile. I learned all kinds of things about making cheese with vegetarian rennet (as opposed to animal rennet which comes from a cow’s stomach), about using unpasteurised milk (tested for safety) which means that the cheese is made at a much lower temperature and therefore retains its flavour, and about using a beeswax skin as opposed to the usual seal and cheese wax, allowing the cheese to breathe.
‘Some of our cheeses are unique, such as this fynbos cheese, our pesto cheese, and the very popular fresh chilli cheese,’ said Geneve, tapping them proudly with her knife.
‘They each sell for R17 for 100g. Our organic feta, yogurt and cottage cheese didn’t make it to the market this morning – they were all sold out!’
She wraps slices for customers in wax wrap, explaining that it is the best preserver of fresh cheese
The real Mrs Ball’s Chutney
There was an interesting tale at this stall.
‘South Africans love Mrs Ball’s Chutney and it is popular overseas too. As a woman in business in the early 1900s she was a pioneer. She eventually sold her business to Lever Brothers and the recipes were modified commercially. Now her great-grandson Desmond is making a range from her original hand-written recipes, with no added starches or preservatives,’ explained Iris, who has married into the family. There is a standard range of peach, mild and chilli chutneys, and an organic range where the fruit is kiln-dried and not dried with sulphur dioxide.
A normal-size bottle sells for R25, about double the commercial price. Iris says that the chutneys are doing well in niche restaurants and that Desmond has used the old lady’s name, Amelia, on his label (the commercial product has Mrs H.S. Ball, her husband’s initials). My son Matthew who loves chutney pronounced it to be fruitier, spicier and overall tastier than the Mrs Ball’s we are familiar with.
Tokai forest bowls
It’s a lovely market. I thought more emphasis on organic and raw food would have been positive, and on the green technology that goes in the kitchen such as solar cookers, juicers, etc. (I was glad to see hot boxes). A busker would have complemented the beautiful setting. As for me, I have odd breakfast bowls at home, each one reminding me of a different place and time.
This morning at Porter’s I bought two handmade ones the colour of ripe nectarines; they’re my Tokai forest bowls reminding me of summer to come. [JC] The market is open every Saturday from 9 to 1.