I remember when we first arrived in the Boland, I would strap baby Pretty Girl into her car seat and in a valiant effort to ward off waves of homesickness and loneliness travel around the Boland exploring shops and malls and any wine farm boasting a play area. We clocked many a happy mile my girl and me.
One of the first signs I noticed in Stellenbosch that spring was for “Kamersvol Geskenke”, I guess the translation would be “rooms full of gifts” or “rooms full of presents”, either way I was sold.
I never made it that first year but have been a regular market attendee every year since. In the last couple of years more markets have been added to the calendar and now we are spoilt for choice; CY Market in Durbanville, Kamers in Somerset West and Festive Ideas in Simondium to name but a few which take place between September and October each year. Almost the end of the year, not quite yet Christmas and Market season is open!
The best way to attend any of these markets is rich and hungry. (I admit filthy rich and famished are probably better). Before the usual debates start about the markets being expensive, the products being overpriced and which market was the best any given year, let me just say that for me the experience is worth the entrance money.
Where else can you explore the glorious Cape from the vantage point of its locals and see talent and creativity in abundance, craft in every form. I love creative people, they buzz with their own energy. Think of the most creative person you know and imagine what it must be like to own their world, blithely rocking the ordinary into extraordinary. And then picture our collective creative all together, for a week! I never want to miss seeing that.
As a delightful add-on the foodies really come out to play and at any of these markets if you are anything like me, you will be riddled with indecision and wander around the food market until you reach sensory overload and want to cry as you bear witness to all the deliciousness and realize that realistically speaking you only having room for one lunch. Sigh.
Last year Photogirl and I eventually chose fabulous special flat bread thingys (that’s a very specific foodie description) that you topped with whatever you liked from a table laden with glorious ingredients. A few weeks later we decided to recreate our own version. Whilst it bears some resemblance to the one we had at the market, it’s not exact, which could be due to the lack of market atmosphere or a bad memory, but despite that, it is still very very good. And simple.
We used puff pastry for ours and hence the very hard thought out name of Puff Pastry doo dah. Experiment with it, make it your own, and send me your ideas if they turn out well, I will add them to the post. In the spirit of the cheating gourmet, there are again no measurements.
What you need
Mayonnaise, best quality
Basil Pesto, best quality
Rocket, washed and dried
Parma ham (a little will go a long way)
Balsamic reduction ( I use Paarl’s own Ab’s Blackgold )
- Cut the puff pastry into squares or oblongs. You can make them smaller if you decided to use as a starter, or larger if you are having them for lunch. Place on a tray sprayed with non-stick spray. Paint the top of the pastry shapes with a little egg wash or milk. Bake at 200 deg for about 15 to twenty minutes until risen and golden. Remove and cool.
- Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, toss in a pan with olive oil, pinch sugar, salt and pepper and roast in a hot oven for about ten to fifteen minutes (I usually pop them in with the pastry, two birds and all that.) The tomatoes should hold their shape but have a good flavour.
- Mix a teaspoon or two of pesto into about a ½ cup of mayonnaise. Spread the puff pastry top with some mayonnaise and artfully (read as best you can) arrange the rocket, Parma, artichokes and cherry tomatoes on the puff pastry.
- Grate over some Parmesan cheese and drizzle with some balsamic reduction.
Some tricks to using store bought puff pastry:
- Check in the store that the roll is whole and doesn’t feel broken. Take care en route home that it doesn’t crash to floor and crack.
- Defrost the pastry in the fridge overnight if you have time. Obviously this takes some planning but it seems to give good results, I don’t know why.
- Do not roll the pastry out, use it as it is off the roll. If you roll it, you roll out the layers and the result is no puff. This probably means that you have to buy more, but therein lies the cost of convenience.
- Make sure that your oven is at heat before you put the pastry in.
- Use egg wash or milk to bring a good colour.
This year I am organizing the kiddos (do you hear me dear husband) and going to market for a whole entire day. I am that determined to fit in two lunches!
PS if you are going marketing….
And at Kamers 21 – 27 October 2012, look for the gorgeous woodwork of two equally talented and precious Franschhoek friends under the label Flow Africa