The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Some out of town others

pmccool's picture

Some out of town others

Two weeks ago, we were nearing the end of a week's vacation along South Africa's southern coast.  We had stayed in Kenton on Sea, Port Elizabeth and Plettenberg Bay.  On our way back to Plett from a day trip to Knysna (who knew it would be in the middle of their Oyster Festival?!), we passed a clearing beside the road with a large banner proclaiming "Saturday Market".  Not knowing quite what to expect, we made plans to return the next morning to see what might be available.  As it happened, we arrived at the market slightly ahead of opening time, so we wandered around the various stalls to see what there was to see as the artisans finished setting up.  There were paintings, beaded work, wire crafts, wood work, clothing and lots of other items to drool over.

Let us not forget the food!  We bought a big chunk of some absolutely wonderful cheese; something in the Emmenthaler / Swiss vein.  There was a place that had the most wonderful apple strudel, studded with raisins, bits of green fig preserves, nuts, and I'm not sure what else.  And they piped whipped cream over it at no additional cost, if you please.  I was pleased.  There were purveyors of olive, avocado and grapeseed oils.  Fresh herbs. Preserves.  Confits.  Pates.  And breads!

Le Fournil, a bakery from Plettenberg Bay, was represented that day.  Their focus was more on pastries, although they had lovely breads, too.  We purchased pain au chocolat from them.  The lady behind the counter spoke more French than I and I spoke more English, American style at that, than she so our conversation was limited.  Still, we got along.  Here are some pictures of the Le Fournil stand:

Ile de Pain, a bakery located in Knysna, was just a few booths to the right.  They featured a broad range of breads, all levain-based.  That was impressive, especially since the brioche I purchased was not just buttery but somewhat sweet, as well.  The brioche also contained nuggets of orange peel and golden raisins, with a sprinkling of coarse sugar on the top crust.  Oh. My. Goodness.  It was delightful with a smear of butter but absolutely intoxicating when toasted.  Here is how their booth looked:

And a closer look at the breads:

Baguettes are on the left and ciabatta front-center.

From the left: Vollkornbrot, 100% rye, brioche and (I think) a pain de compagne.

If you wanted, you could also buy your breakfast by the slice:

I will definitely miss these small weekend markets that are so common in so many places in South Africa.  There really hasn't been anything quite like them in the various places I've lived in back in the U.S.  Maybe it's just as well.  My waistline couldn't take too many shopping expeditions like this!



wassisname's picture

What a find!  I agree, not the sort of set-up you're likely to find in the US.  From the photos I'd guess the quality is better than I've found in most bakeries, nevermind a market stall.  Having this just down the road would surely add some pounds - one of everything, please!  Not sure how much home-baking I'd ever get done either.  Maybe you're right, and we're better off without it, but then why is my mouth still watering?!?


Syd's picture

I am envious, Paul.  Those breads look delicious.  And it sounds like you had a wonderful trip traveling to all those places. How much longer are you in South Africa for? 



GSnyde's picture

Sounds like a great place, Paul.  The farmers market sounds much like what we see in the smaller towns in Northern California.  The farmers markets in the cities are somewhat more commercialized, but still have good artisan breads and prepared foods as well as farm-fresh produce.


breadsong's picture

Hi Paul, Thanks for sharing these photos.
I would have been in seventh heaven if I'd happened upon a food market like that.
...your description of that brioche! sounds amazing...!
:^) from breadsong

holds99's picture

Great photos of great looking breads.  Looks like I can see some handmade jams on a couple of the tables.  We have a farmer's market, but nothing close to the quality of the breads in your photos.  Brown eggs from free range chickens---brioche that sounds heaven sent...topped with homemade jamIt doesn't get much better than that. 

Best wishes,


mimifix's picture

Thanks for the photo story. It's clear that you enjoyed the trip. More farmers' markets are opening across the U.S.; but with competition from established superdupermarkets, I just hope these small markets can thrive.

The Vollkornbrot looked good. That's next on my baking list. So did you get any ideas?

trailrunner's picture

On a saturday the farmer's market on Vashon Island is exactly as you describe this one...and the breads and pastries from the local shops also. It is delightful. 


Great pics and i am going to try and find a levain based brioche...yum. c



pmccool's picture

Wassisname - Ile de Pain and Le Fournil de Plett are professional bakeries.  I know that Ile de Pain has a cafe associated with the bakery, which you can read about on their website.  But you are right, it is a much higher level of quality than you might expect from a side-of-the-highway weekend market.  And very deadly to diets...

Syd - we had a wonderful time.  It is winter and we had about 3 days of cold/rainy weather but managed to enjoy ourselves anyway.  I move back to the States in October.

Glenn - sounds like you have it better (in a farm markets sense) than I have had when living in MI, PA, AL, KS and TX.  My exposure has been more along the lines of an individual farm stall or a weekend "festival", rather than the  week-in, week-out regular markets.  We do have a couple near my home in Kansas that we frequent, but they sell fresh produce instead of artisanal baked goods or crafts.

breadsong - amazing only begins to describe that brioche!  I will have to do a lot of practicing with brioche before I can get anywhere near that level of quality.  However, I can steal an idea or two...

Howard - good eyes!  Yes, home-made jams and preserves were on hand, as well as the eggs.  If it had been a different time of year, there might have been fresh pineapple, too, since a lot of that is grown in the region.

mimifix - I think that there is the possibility for more markets to develop in the U.S.  One of the big differences that I see is that there is still a strong focus on home-prepared foods in SA that is no longer so prevalent in the U.S.  One can go into a mall or shopping center and find shops whose entire stock in trade is baked goods made by individuals.  I don't know if they work on a consignment model or something else.  The other thing is that for much of the year in much of SA, it is absolutely lovely outdoors.  Heat, rather than cold, is the limiting factor in some regions.  That allows year-round markets to thrive, too.  Ask Mark Sinclair how well that would fly in Montana where he lives, for instance.  As for ideas, the brioche and the strudel may require further investigation.

trailrunner - let me know if you find a formula for a levain-based brioche that you like.  Before I forget the details, I should say that the orange peel in the one that I purchased appeared to be diced fresh peel, rather than a candied type.



trailrunner's picture

foolishpoolish has one on here from 2008. I am going to try it this week. I used all my replenished starters today for Norwich and bagels !  Will get more going. Just use the search option and you will find it. Good directions. c

trailrunner's picture

foolishpoolish has one on here from 2008. I am going to try it this week. I used all my replenished starters today for Norwich and bagels !  Will get more going. Just use the search option and you will find it. Good directions. c

pmccool's picture

Ask and ye shall find.  Thanks for the tip, trailrunner.  And let us know how it comes out.


Mebake's picture

Inspiring Bread Market, from an Inspiring TFL Member. Thanks for posting, Paul.. !

Thaichef's picture

Hello Paul:

  Thanks for sharing!  What a wonderful, beautiful farmers market. I will never find one in my neck of the wood!(VA.)  I have to stop half way through your post I can't read any further, I got too hungry and jealous!!!!

I went to Italy in May this year and their breads is nothing to write home about but their foods and veggies are.  Their Melons are the best I have ever eaten in my life.

My Italian friend told me that the buffalo mozzarella that we had for dinner one night was two days old because it was made in the little  town next to her home town. She said that she was lucky because she lives in a small town. She told me that I must eat good too since I live in a small village in VA.  I told her that  nothing is further from the truth since we have nothing to crow about at all in my small village but if I were to live in a big town like N.Y. city then I can have the best.

How big is the town with that wonderful farmers market, Paul?  Just wondering if the number of  population  in other countries dictate  the quality of the foods. Our small towns has nothing. Forget about a good breads or bakery. I am so................jealous.



pmccool's picture

just off the side of the road between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna, probably a little closer to Plettenberg Bay.  The two towns are about 30km apart and each has a population in the 20,000 to 30,000 range, depending on whose statistics you choose. 

If I were to guess, I'd say that the driver for this type of market in this location is that it is located along the coastal highway between resort towns, rather than because of either town's size.  The location is convenient to both towns and, since weekenders typically have substantial disposable income, it is probably easy to move quite a bit of product.  Even though we were there on a chilly winter weekend, the place was well attended.  It must be jammed during the summer holiday season.

Just to give you an idea of why I think that the location is key for this market, here's the view from the house where we stayed in Keurboomstrand, looking westward toward the town of Plettenberg Bay at the other end of the bay:

As you can see, there's some serious money in those "summer homes".  Definitely not the little-log-cabin-by-the-lake thing that I grew up with in northern Michigan.  And yes, those are houses, not multi-unit condos.  (For the gardeners, the "shrub" silhouetted in the foreground is a geranium plant that's about 5-6 feet tall.)

Even in areas that aren't swimming in cash, I think that it is possible to devleop a "market culture", if such you wish to call it.  From what I've seen, there are at least a couple of different ways to that.  One would be a diffuse approach, very much like the Midlands Meander in KwaZulu Natal, where individual artisans operate out of their home locations and the market (customer) comes to them.  That requires a critical mass, probably half a dozen at least, of craftspeople whose products are worth going after plus a lot of assiduous marketing.  And they have to be in an area that people will want to come to anyway.  The other approach is a centralized market with a regular schedule that is in an easily accessible location.  Again, there has to be something there (in terms of quality) that makes the trip to market worthwhile, whether for the locals or for the tourists or for the artisans, and enough range and diversity of products to make it appealing.  In either case, there should be a mixture of products that meet basic needs (foodstuffs, for instance) and products that are more in the discretionary range.  Startup will require a substantial commitment of effort by the artisans (they can't just disappear for weeks on end and they must produce adequate stocks of their products) and a willingness to cooperate with other artisans to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes--a thriving market, in this case.  Either case will require a commitment of funds from the artisans for marketing and advertising.  Further, a carefully considered set of standards will need to be developed so that the desired type and quality of products offered for sale is maintained. 

Sounds like a lot of work, huh?  Maybe the "make stuff" artisans can link up with the "organize stuff" artisans so that the market can be developed and grown successfully.  From what I've seen, once a market is established and healthy, other artisans want to be a part of it, too.  In the diffuse model, they may move their studio/workshop to be in the vicinity of the established local artisans.  In the centralized model, they are often willing to travel some distance to have an outlet for their products.

Sorry for the long-winded response. 


P.S. Ah, Italy!  Maybe one of these days...

Thaichef's picture

Good Afternoon Paul:

  Thanks for taking the time to give me details information on the Farmers market and what make it succesful. I agreed with you 100% and I wish and dream that we have one.

 For your information, I was a volunteered market manager for 3 years in our area. Our population is a lot less than what you mentioned but we do have a lot of well to do people living close by(15 miles). Their homes are in million dollars . We are also have many farms and orchards growing peaches, apples and veggies in the area.  Unfortunately, our customers (rich people on the lake)  would rather go to local supermarkets to buy their foods.  ( I know because I excercied with many of them.) While our market was in the same area as the market previously, and our veggies are cheap(English cucumber at .99cents each and picked yesterday versus $1.99 and up at the supermarket), these customers rather go to the supermarket "becasue I can buy everything in one stop!".  The same go for apples and peaches(.69 cents to .99 cents a pound versus $1.99 cents/lb).  Our peaches and apples came from our local growers their apples and peaches came from "God know where".  Needless to say that our vendors are down to nothing from 12-15.  I am no longer a volunteered market manager.  I gave up! I try to promote the market by giving  speeches and show power point show to area churches, the Democrat party, the Ruritan and  worked for free for three years!  Nothing work! I gave up and so let them eat "mush".  I love to have wonderful farmers market as the one you showed us.  Unfortunately for us here, it was only a dream. Thank you for sharing with us, Paul.