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Monthly Archives: December 2014

Edito 061 – Home straight

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In less than 20 days, we’ll have a brand new year before us. Kilometers of wrapping paper will have migrated from under the Christmas tree to a far less cosy place, waiting patiently to be recycled. Billions of SMS’s will be waiting THE moment to be sent out. Some will talk about the commitments that, they intend to fulfill, for once. Others about the places where they want to travel this coming year, for sure. Even some special political or alimentary diets, who knows…

Time to draw the year’s conclusions and ours will be unornamented.

We will have published more the 70 blog articles, covering Southern Africa in its every corner. The most fascinating beaches, our best restaurants, romantic hideaways for lovers, a special “Travel for Kids”, the Victoria Falls and the 5th Element… and obviously Sun City, Cape Town and lots of Safari…

We’ll have had thousands of guests travelling with us, opened a new Facebook page, re-organized our structure and recruited new consultants. Some left us, not without regrets. But Charline and Alessandra put a smile back on our faces with two beautiful babies.

Before definitively wrapping up 2014 and sincerely thank you for your ongoing trust, allow me to introduce our last newsletter theme concocted by our team: The Markets! The ones that I, of course, invite you to come and discover in 2015.

This coming year will be full of novelties. This is no wishful thinking nor even a resolution that I won’t be able to hold but a clear target for our company based on creativity, reactivity and, as always, quality.

In the name of XO, I wish you the happiest festive season.

Thank you,

Sébastien

5 Mother City markets not to be missed!

It’s here that I have (re) discovered the simplicity of a local market, the happiness of spending a few hours in a simple and relaxed atmosphere, hanging out in the middle of the food stalls and local products. This is a great moment to share with friends or family!

The markets hold a special place in the hearts (and stomachs) of South Africans. Every neighborhood has its own market with its own atmosphere!

On the contrary to what we might believe, “going to the market” isn’t only a practical thing to do, it’s not just a place where you can buy fresh products or your Sunday food.  It’s a privileged time, a real activity! In South Africa and especially in Cape Town, “going to the market” means enjoying a glass of sparkling wine and strolling amid stalls to taste some products and talk with local artisans: A rich expedition!
Noisy inside and more casual outside, you will love wandering; from one atmosphere to another, flavor to flavor…in a few steps only!

Urban, trendy, chic, and sometimes even “hipster”, Cape markets will offer you many fresh, original and well-presented products: a real pleasure for your eyes! Away from the bustle of the city a few markets are different from the urban environment and will offer you a simple and relaxed atmosphere.

It may be time for me to give you an overview of the great classics of Cape Town. These unavoidable markets where you will spend amazing times, in all simplicity!

Fancy a trendy market where you can find quality products? Let’s start from the beginning.

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NEIGHBOURGOODS MARKET

The Neighborhood Market is certainly one of the hottest markets of the moment. Located in The Old Biscuit Mill, in Woodstock, this market is open every Saturday morning between 9am and 3pm. Discover a busy corner, a trendy place of Cape Town, and support many local artists, musicians and farmers.

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THE WATERSHED MARKET

But the Neighborhood Market is far from being the only market that takes advantage of the urban activity and trends in its neighborhood. It’s also the case for the Water Shed, the new market in the Waterfront.

This huge design market offers more than 150 stalls of clothes, jewelry, decorations, cosmetics etc. You will be overwhelmed by this place!

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The watershed at the Waterfront

ORANJEZICHT CITY FARM ORGANIC MARKET

Oranjezicht city farm organic market is also a market largely influenced by its location and its neighborhood. At the foot of Table Mountain, discover the charm of the vegetables garden and local farmers who will serve you quality fruits and vegetables!

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Oranjezicht City Farm Organic Market at the foot of Table Mountain

logo-bay-harbour-marketBAY HARBOUR MARKET

Fancy a friendly and relaxed atmosphere?
Let yourself be tempted by the Bay Harbour Market, open every weekend from Friday evening.

This market located in Hout Bay, is the perfect place to have a drink, eat and buy some typical South African products, which are actually perfectly suitable for souvenirs. Not to mention concerts and great entertainment which are probably the reason why this market is so popular in Cape Town!bay-harbour-market

blue-bird-garage-marketBLUE BIRD GARAGE MARKET

In the same spirit, do not miss the opportunity to discover Muizenberg market: The Blue Bird Garage market. This market will offer you a wide variety of products and a particularly pleasant atmosphere every Friday night!

In short you must have understood that this market culture is very special in Cape Town. In South Africa, in both large cities and smaller, markets are the places to be. It’s a place where you can interact, talk, negotiate, discover and enjoy … so don’t miss it. It’s a must at Christmas time…come discover the innumerable markets of the country!

By Capucine Motte

Happiness is in the Winelands!

Yippee! Here we are leaving for a weekend trip through the winelands. The road is beautiful, the air is sweet and the future is bright…

We pointed to a few landmarks on the map to use as a linking thread of our gustative adventure. A pleasant mix of wine and local product tasting.

Of course, we’ll visit winefarms, certainly two or three, well-known and recognized for their wines. But the question really is: Is there a better place in the world than a market to represent a country best ? No, once and for all, no. Scents, flavours, colours, local people or visitors, the market is a life enhancer.

FRANSCHHOEK VILLAGE MARKET

On Saturday morning, we stop at Franschhoek, an afrikaans name which literally means « French corner ». Inhabited by the Huguenots fleeing from France in the late seventeenth century, this area inherited skills from french wine growers, and certainly some others gastronomic savoir-faire.
The market is held under the shade of the large oak trees, near the dutch reformed church.

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Franschhoek Dutch Reformed Church

As soon as we arrive, we are caught by Madame Fromage’s generous arms. Well, that’s one way of putting it… However, the cheese-board is extremely welcoming and you have to show strength of character to not lose all dignity throwing yourself onto all these products offered. I took up the challenge with panache and only tasted two, one of which is the « Berg River », with a subtle nutty flavour, a mountain cheese, matured for up to 18 months.

After that, do we really have a choice ? No, we need liquid. Let’s set sail for Grande Provence stall, one of Franschhoek’s  flagship winefarms. While my travelling companion is testing their Viognier and Chenin blanc blend, I’m tasting a glass of shiraz, my weakness, and it must be said that Grande Provence’s one is worth it. We are ready for a good two hours of discovery and a feast for our taste buds.

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Let’s go! At Jazz-Berry Beads, I buy a neck for me, a bracelet for Marie-Laure. I then stop at Pierre’s, and order one roasted smoked sausage! One! At Dusti Attic, I hunt for antiques and leave with a lamp which, for lack of being valuable, looks very nice. Then it’s time for a small glass of  Four Paws Pinotage. At the Green Chameleon Design, I find an irresistible tee-shirt for my nephew Gaspard. At Mommaladys’ stall: I stock up on a few cookies for tea-time (you never know, I could be a bit peckish…). Then, quesadilla stop at Sabor Criollo for…., but where is my partner? We finally meet up under the trees for a beer. I’m exhausted. I wonder why… ?

BLAAUWKLIPPEN FAMILY MARKET

On Sunday morning, we start again at Blaauwklippen Family Market, 4 kilometres South of Stellenbosh, in the beautiful Blaauwklippen winefarm. I spare you my gastronomic itinerary of the day and my purchase list.

Here in Franschhoek, you’ll find all you need to make your bag heavy with various kinds of beautiful handcraft and to also add weight  on your body with delicious delights. The good news is that, on the other hand, you will lighten your purse, in joy and good humour (a few lonely cents are crying at the bottom of mine). Here, it’s a family’s heaven.

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Left: musician and singer Zenn

While children are playing with venal goats or riding a placid pony, thinking they are cow-boys, some of their parents enjoy a glass of Blaauwklippen wine while they are swinging at the sound of an inspired blues and while others daydream under a shady tree.

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All is perfect. Fresh, top-quality products, delicatedly cooked, all combined in a country and family atmosphere: It’s a nice postcard printed in our sensorial memory that we bring back from our weekend trip.

Finally, do we really need anything else?

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The Franschhoek Village Market organises a Christmas market on Friday, the 13 of December, from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm and over 3 days: from Saturday 14th to Monday 16th, from 9:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
The Blaauwklippen Christmas Market will be held from December 16th to 20th, from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

By Muriel Romero

Farm stalls: a south african tradition

In South Africa, a visit to a farm stall (‘padstal’ in Afrikaans) on the side of the road is part of any good journey – it’s a great opportunity to stretch one’s legs and buy the best of local produce. Traditionally, farm stalls were a way to sell farm products. Today, the offer is bigger and farm stalls sell local products as well as crafts and very often include a restaurant.

So that’s it, here you are. Today is the D-Day to go to the Garden Route, one of the most popular areas of South Africa. Here’s a little guide of farm stalls that you can take on the road to discover these on your own or with your friends or family.

It is well known: “local is lekker”, a fashionable expression to support local production, lekker meaning nice in English.

REDBERRY FARM

If you pass near George, but especially if you are a strawberry fanatic, detour to the R404 and stop at Geelhoutboom Rd to visit Redberry Farm. You can go pick strawberries yourself or enjoy a pony ride, get lost in the labyrinth of the field or just enjoy a meal based on the flagship ingredient of the farm. The shop will also impress you with its wonders!

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Strawberry picking at Redberry Farm

TIMBERLAKE FARM VILLAGE & ORGANIC FOOD

It’s time to hit the road again. But you already feel your legs get heavier and you are now struggling to keep your eyes open. Then between Wilderness and Sedgefield, you see Timberlake Farm Village & Organic Food.

In fact, it is difficult to stop there “just for a coffee.” This is a village made up of chalets selling their specialty: condiments, clothing, wine, jewelry, plants, and more. But it’s not only that. Adventurer, you will try the acrobranch with your children.  Hungry, you will enjoy succulent meats at Zucchini restaurant. Curious, you will cross the counters in search of rare gems.

NATURE’S WAY FARM STALL

On the R102, just after Plettenberg Bay, discover the Nature’s Way Farm Stall. This traditional farmer counter offers farm products and a wide range of local cheeses including its own creation, Loredo Farm Cheese. Children will discover the milking while you will marvel at selections of jams, honey, fresh milk from the farm or olive oil taken directly from the tap, homemade bread, pesto and other condiments.

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Before leaving for an adventure day, do not hesitate to stop at Thyme & Again, just after Plettenberg Bay on the N2. Food lovers will find their happiness between jams, pies, candies, quiches, pastries, meringues, meats, cheeses and liqueurs. In short, you can expect a bit of everything here!
Of course, you will find many other Farm Stalls along the Garden Route, this is not an exhaustive list. But be sure that the farm stall is part of the South African landscape and definitely worth stopping the car to investigate further.

By Sophie Pollet

Jo’burg: an urban stroll through city markets

This month, I’m writing you from Johannesburg where I discovered some markets that are definitely worth a visit.
Surprising places, original and offbeat concepts, follow me on my urban ​​stroll.

BRYANSTON ORGANIC MARKET

On Thursday, I asked the receptionist of my hotel to recommend to me a nice and pleasant place for the brunch! His answer was clear-cut: “The Bryanston Organic Market”. And if you are looking for a green setting in the city center, this market is for you! The organic food was delicious and we found so many things: jewelries, flowers, sculptures, vintage clothes, souvenirs, crafts, toys, but also activities for kids! This change of scene is enjoyable especially when we know we are in downtown Johannesburg!

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Bryanston Organic Market

JOZI FOOD MARKET

Are you a nature lover? Then do not hesitate to make a stop at Jozi Food Market if you are passing through the Pirates Sports Clubs. This market supports the local craftspeople; you can buy many wonderful souvenirs here! This allows you to discover typical products of the region while also help the small producers. So you enjoy fresh local products, original recipes and all that outside! Enjoy the sun and savor a cup of Rooibos comfortably seated on the lawn…and a band will be there to entertain you!

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Jozi Food Market

ROSEBANK ROOFTOP MARKET

If you are looking for a key and trendy market, you have to go to “Rosebank Rooftop Market”! When I arrived, a band was there to liven things up while the locals and tourists talked together and savored African specialties! And there were lots of stalls with handmade souvenirs … here they call it a “Craft Market” … this is a MUST SEE in Johannesburg. Therefore, it is not surprising that this Jo’burg treasure won its 11th award as “First market in Johannesburg.”

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Rosebank Rooftop Market

MARKET ON MAIN

Now, if you’re seeking THE trendy spot, the place that brings artists of all kinds and the best in terms of design together… hurry up! And let’s go to the Market on Main.
It is THE Place to be! Every Sunday morning, this market, located in the Maboneng Precinct, the artists’ area, makes it possible to dive into the vibrant Jo’burg.
Second hand clothes, designers, organic food, music … a complete creative urban cocktail.

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Market On Main

Obviously, Gauteng is full of attractive small markets… whether Food Markets, craft markets, flea markets and even markets dedicated to traditional healing, you’ll find exactly what you are looking for in Johannesburg!
If you come to this beautiful part of the country, do not hesitate to send me your finds!

By Aurélie Jammes

Meet two stallholders at the Old Biscuit Mill

You know the markets with the vision of a costumer. Why not discover from the other side in South Africa?

On a sunny Saturday morning, we went to meet two traders in the famous market of The Old Biscuit Mill based in Cape Town. The first one, Eric, from France sells wonderful healthy yoghurts and the second one, Captonian, Michael, sells homemade refreshing local beer!

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How did you start selling your products?

Eric: I started to sell yoghurt after going to New York where I discovered how Greek yoghurt was popular.
I tried it and was amazed by the taste and the different savoury toppings we can match it with. The healthy side was also something I wanted to develop because more and more clients are conscious of what they eat now. I did some investigation and then decided to create my own brand in South Africa!

Michael: I started a few years ago with my brother who makes the beer, it’s a family story.

Why do you sell them at markets?

Eric: The markets in Cape Town are quite popular and it’s the best way to try to launch and test a product.

Michael: We not only sell our beer on the markets, from now on we sell a lot of our beer Lion Heart in the restaurants and bars mostly in Cape Town. But we offer tasting, so promoting our beer at markets is still an easy way to woo clients and get feedback from them. Moreover I like the interaction with people.

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Yokos – Delicious and healthy yoghurts

Do you work with different markets? How do you choose these markets?

Eric: We are into two markets; we choose the most popular food market to reach the most people as possible. Now we are opening our two first shops in Cape Town and Hermanus.

Michael: We work with Hout Bay market situated at the beginning of the peninsula and we are also present at some big events like beer festivals which happen several times a year in the city.

What is the best word to describe the atmosphere in the South African markets?

Eric: They are very easy and offer a diverse and large scale of food. People can enjoy the good weather and walk outdoors. It’s also a tourism destination so people can enjoy and discover this warm place they don’t always have in their home country.

Michael: Popular is the best word, for both locals and tourists. The particularity is here, markets are not only a place where you pop in to buy fresh food, it’s really an experience. You come to spend time with your friends, with your family, to discover original products, to have a drink while listening to live jazzy music.

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Lionheart: Craft Beer

Why do you develop your business in South Africa ? Do you think there are more opportunities here than in another places?

Eric: I lived in this country for 6 years and opened my first business in 2010. Of course, this country offers a lot of opportunities. South Africa is like a new world and lot of things still need to be created.

Michael: We are developing our business only in Cape Town for the moment mostly because we are South African so it’s our direct market and because we think there are a lot of opportunities in Cape Town. It’s a beautiful city, with good vibes which attract a lot of people from all over the world throughout the entire year. We will try to develop it in Johannesburg and Durban but not abroad, we would like to keep a small and unique business to keep our image of a local product.

Any good addresses to recommend?

Eric: I would recommend all the food markets in Cape Town, I can’t choose a favorite one, they all have a great atmosphere and each deserves to be discovered! Cape Town is always moving up. A reflection of the markets, Cape Town is just an amazing city to live in and is always full of energy!

Michael: Every Thursday evening you can discover the City Bowl Market in the city center, a really nice food market with groups of music and an intimate atmosphere. I also recommend the same kind of market situated in Muizenberg every Friday night.

By Mélanie Chapellan

One of us: Pauline Joiris, Leisure Travel Consultant

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Why did you arrive in Cape Town?

My boyfriend and I wanted to leave Belgium for a sunny place. We thought a lot about it and decided to move to Cape Town. We arrived here in April 2013. We travelled a lot through the country while searching for a job. In November 2013, XO Africa offered me a job as Leisure Travel Consultant. An opportunity I immediately took! I have been working at XO Africa for a year now!

What do you like the most about your job?

Offering our guests the opportunity to discover this beautiful part of the globe is definitely what I prefer about my job. Each country of Southern Africa is a unique experience.

Describe XO Africa in 3 words

  • Professionalism
  • Tailor-made
  • Field knowledge

What is your favorite destination in South Africa?

It’s a beautiful but not so famous place: The Cederberg Mountains. I love this remote, semi-arid region. It combines huge spaces and orange-rocky mountains that reflect sunlight perfectly. It’s a real paradise for campers and hikers! And above all, during spring, the Cedeberg region (and the nearby Namaqualand) gets covered with thousands of orange, white and pink flowers… just a little miracle of nature!

What is your favorite place (restaurant, scenic view…) in Cape Town?

It’s hard to choose but I think I’ve got a preference for Table Mountain. I literally fell in love with this amazing mountain and its flat top. At its feet, one is dazzled by its impressive presence and beauty. At the top, the view on Cape Town is unbelievable: it’s like being in the middle of nature even if the city surrounds you. No wonder that, in the 17th century, the Dutch East India Company chose the bay of Cape Town to establish a colony!