This country village also offers good food, excellent wine + lots of history
Blue Bird Garage Food and Goods Market in Muizenberg
Meet the family-friendly neighbourhood market that brings the Cape Peninsula to life every Friday night
Something magical rests thick on the air on the balmy summer evening I trot down one of Muizenberg’s main roads, joined by chatty families and cuddling couples, towards the Blue Bird Garage Food and Goods Market – there’s an energy, an excitement, a sense of camaraderie and community.
Housed in a beautiful old plane hangar that’s retained much of its historical charm, the bustling Friday night affair is a lively central hub in the seaside suburb, channelling the sort of communal village vibe you could imagine characterised small neighbourhood markets of yore. Today, the indoor spot, which was founded in 2010 by husband and wife team Dylan and Kim Speer, serves as a great platform for small business owners and a popular gathering space for locals looking for a vibey, social way to start the weekend.
“We thought we’d service the community by giving them somewhere to relax on a Friday night after a hard week of work,” Kim explains as we pass by flowers and fresh fruit at the venue’s side entrance and are met with a heaving kaleidoscope of colours, smells, sights and sounds inside. “People bring their kids along and come and have craft beers, dinner and a glass of wine with friends. It really puts everyone in a good mood.”
Needless to say, on the evening I visit, the space is filled with vibrant laughter and light-hearted chit-chat, and I’m struck by the down-to-earth, unpretentious nature of it all (a refreshing change from the all-too-trendy markets that have taken over the Mother City’s CBD). Everyone appears to know everyone, and even the 40-odd vendors, many of whom have been around since the market’s inception, joke and exchange easy pleasantries (and tasters) with the stallholders next to them.
Speaking of which, because Blue Bird is a bona fide neighbourhood market, most of the traders – think anyone from jewellery designers to bakers to candlestick makers – are in fact from Muizenberg or the greater Cape Peninsula region. And while many may assume this means tables must be laden with nothing more than tie-dye T-shirts and hippie tins, as is the stereotype of the suburb, this is definitely not the case. With a passion for all things artisan, quality and handmade, Dylan and Kim have been very selective about who they pick as vendors, choosing only gifted entrepreneurs who really showcase the strong creative talent that exists in the area.
“We haven’t just sat back and said ‘come and sell at our market because we need to pay the rent’. We’ve worked hard at getting the perfect mix of people,” says Kim, who looks forward to Fridays all week. “Everyone here does beautiful work and is very proud of what they do.”
And they should be. Ambling around amongst the crowd of happy people, I’m a little overwhelmed – in a good way, of course – by the diversity of delicious- and pretty-looking products. On the goods side, visitors can pick from items like steampunk jewellery made from old clocks, vintage second-hand books, elegant parasols, edgy artworks, leather bags and bohemian dresses. And on the culinary side, which is the main focus of the souk and its biggest drawcard, there’s everything from cinnamon and mascarpone cupcakes, thin-based pizzas, freshly sliced biltong and gluten-free chocolate brownies to colossal organic burgers, smoothies, gourmet wraps and sushi.
After a brief chat with a lovely local lady who’s given up her career as a doctor to sell slow-cooked homemade Indian curries at Blue Bird, I move on to Debbie Herrmann’s famed samoosa stall. Light, crispy and filled to the bursting point with bacon and cheese, her hand-folded heritage food gets my appetite going, and I fulfil this craving with arguably the best chilli poppers I’ve ever tasted – the Mexican stand Fiesta stuffs them with spicy diced jalapeño and soft white cheddar and serves them up piping hot. Finally, I pick up a falafel pita from Surfer’s Corner resident Greg Joffe and a glass of Knorhoek white wine from the permanent corner bar and take a seat at one of the long trestle tables that perch in the middle of the main market space below wooden ceiling beams adorned with bright bunting, hessian sacks and surfboards.
Another main highlight of this Friday night affair is that parents, too, can relax untroubled with good food and drink without having to worry about the little ones. Being super family friendly, the market boasts a large kids’ play area complete with climbing walls, monkey bars, ropes, slides and swings, and, for only R20 per child, young’uns are watched over by childminders and entertained for hours on end.
“There’s nothing worse than going somewhere and your child is saying ‘I want to go home, I want to go home’,” says Kim, and she would know – she has her own little tot. “So, parents are very happy with us.”
It seems everyone is, really. After all, what more can you expect from an easy, breezy, authentic village market than an upbeat experience and downright soul-satisfying good time.
Opening Hours: Blue Bird Garage Market is open every Friday evening from 4pm to 10pm. Plus, there’s also a daytime fashion bazaar on the first Saturday of every month between 11am and 4pm.
The Bill: Blue Bird holds true to the original definition of a market as a bargain hotspot. A substantial meal can be had for less than R50, snack-y bites can be picked up for around R20, 500-mL craft beers cost R28, a glass of wine goes for R25, sweet treats are anywhere from R10 and packets of fresh produce can be bought for just R5. And if you arrive with no notes, don’t fret, the on-site bar offers a cash back service.
By Dayle Kavonic
Experience luxury by the ocean at the Casa Labia.
Looking for a bazaar closer to the city centre? Enter our overview of markets in Cape Town’s CBD.
Also, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, join our Google+ circle and check out our Pinterest boards for updates. Not to mention, subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date with what's hip and happening in our pretty city.