In case you hadn’t noticed, I love food. Really. The absolute best part about having to pack up our entire lives, bid farewell to friends, pets, our country and our home and move to China is because I now have an excuse to drink all our best wines and use all the lovely goodies I’ve been hoarding in my cupboard for special occasions. (Saffron omelets with cocoa nibs for breakfast anyone? Maybe not.) But even for me, dragging myself out of bed at 6:30 on a Saturday morning to get to Wild Oats in Sedgefield before all the Île de paín ciabatta is gone or the pancake queue reaches new-iPad-on-sale proportions is a bit of a schlep (a worthwhile schlep, but a schlep none the less). So I – along with every other Georgian west of York who was relieved when the Pick & Pay mini market opened because now we don’t have to drive ALL the way to the big Pick & Pay – rejoiced when the Outeniqua Farmers Market opened their doors opposite the Garden Route Mall in November.
The creators of this foodie heaven travelled the world over to ensure they created a market that would keep people coming back and they certainly succeeded. Shaded by tall oaks, almost 80 stalls sell everything a food lover could want. Locally sourced and grown meats, breads, cheese, fruit, veg, juices, ice creams, spices, seafood and more make it a one stop shop when you need to fill your grocery cupboard. Or for those days when comfort is more important than fitting into your new Levi’s there are to die for brownies (in packaging so gorgeous you need never be stuck for a gift idea again), chocolate springrolls, nougat chocolate cups (nougat chocolate cups!), koeksisters, milktart, beautifully decorated cupcakes and just about every other gut busting sweet treat you can think of. If breakfast or lunch is all you’re after you are spoiled for choice. Rolls so soft you want to lay your head down on them with fluffy scrambled eggs and crispy bacon (lay your head on the roll, not with the eggs and bacon… you know what I mean), ciabatta with various toppings toasted in little pizza ovens, Thai and Indian curries, satays, Dutch bitterballen and kroketten, gourmet burgers and wraps, falafel and all things Lebanese, samoosas, pancakes, homemade pies of every possible description or just munch on a bit of biltong and have a great cup of coffee while you sit and watch the world go by. And at this market, the world goes by! It is a bustling hive of locals greeting each other, tourists happily calculating how much their pounds can buy and even patrons of the four legged kind giving each other friendly sniffs. There is live entertainment and lots for the kids to do with pony rides, face painting, jungle gyms and lots of space to just run and play in a safe environment. At present there is also a smaller arts and crafts area which the owners hope to grow once the food stalls are perfected. From where I’m sitting, sipping my fresh iced pineapple juice and munching on a nougat cup, they’re pretty much there already.
Outeniqua Farmers Market
N2 (follow the signs at the circle at Sasol)
Enough about food. Time to burn a few calories!
If you’re keen to get out on the golf course a bit and practice your swing, then Glenwood Short Golf Course is the perfect place to do it without looking like a total Koos. Mainly because you’ll be surrounded with so many other hackers that you’ll almost sort of look like you know what you’re doing. Popular amongst scratch golfers and newbies alike, this course is really exceptionally well maintained for a mashie. Sure, it’s not The Links, but then you’re not paying Links prices either. At R45.00 for 9 holes and R60.00 for 18, it’s an affordable way to get your kids away from the Xbox for an afternoon. There are clubs, golf carts and pull carts for hire as well if the Wii has atrophied your muscles. It’s also a great place for a small corporate or private function, with braai facilities and a friendly bar. They have always been very accommodating when, once a year, friends of ours have a birthday bash there with, let’s say, flexible rules on the course. It really is a great place to get into the swing of things if you want to enter the big, scary world of golf.
Knysna Road, George Next door to The Pro Shop at The George Golf Academy.
+27 44 871 3656
La Locanda has long been a favourite amongst our book club members (we read wine labels). George struck it lucky when the Soresi family from Varese, Italy decided to open their restaurant in our little city. As cozy at night indoors as it is inviting under the crab apple outdoors on a summer’s day, it is perfect for Al Fresco dining with a bunch of friends or a romantic evening for two. This is Italian the way someone’s grandmother used to make it. Though probably not yours. Unless your grandmother is Italian.
Dario cures his own authentic Italian style meats and makes handmade mozzarella. The Caprese salad is my favourite dish on the menu – mainly because they are not shy to give the tomatoes a good dose of salt and olive oil. None of this sensible sodium intake rubbish. There is an extensive Chef’s Choice menu that changes all the time to make use of fresh, seasonal ingredients. Expect dishes such as Creamy Papardelle (fresh, of course) with Prawns & Mushrooms, Osso Bucco with Porcini Mushrooms and Beef Fillet on a bed of Asparagus. I very much doubt you’ll get past page 1 before you’ve made your choice, but should you peruse the standard menu there is also a large variety of dishes to choose from. Excellent choices are the Fritto Misto (crumbed and deep fried seafood with homemade aioli), pretty much all the pizzas (the bases are paper thin, slathered with a generous lick of Marinara sauce and topped with all the cured meats and mozzarella that they are famous for), Gamberi vestiti (gorgeous, crispy prawns wrapped in lardo) and the Capocollo di maiale con funghi e panna (pork neck in creamy mushroom sauce).
Service is friendly and you should expect to be called “darling” at least once before the night is out. Most of the waitrons have been with the restaurant for many years, so they really know the ins and outs of the menu. (This also means they know exactly who you are when you walk in there, so best not take your skelmpie.) The wine list isn’t large, but they have a good selection of good South African wines as well as a few special Italian ones.
Address: 124A York Street (behind the Tourism building)
Phone: 044 874 7803
Hours: 11:00 till late, Monday to Friday
18:00 till late, Saturday