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Hazel Food Market: a food culture experience in a park, Pretoria, South Africa

The Hazel Food Market is in Pretoria, South Africa. If you are looking for something fun to do with the family on a sunny Saturday morning, or just want to indulge your inner foodie, Hazel Food Market is just the place.

Marios Sotiriadis, PhD in Tourism Management from the University of Nice, France. Visiting Professor at University of South Africa.

The bunting-lined park comes alive every Saturday morning with passionate purveyors of fine food products, and glorious aromas of fresh food fill the air. Lively but relaxed, the market has a pleasing slowness about it.

This outdoor pop-up market food market is located in the Greenlyn Village Centre, Menlo Park, in the heart of Pretoria’s Old East. A delightful way to spend your Saturday morning, meet up with friends, make new friends, experience good food.

The aim of the Hazel Food Market is to bring residents of Pretoria fresh products straight from the producer at a convenient authentic food market. There are benches scattered all over where you can relax with a cappuccino while the kids play on the jungle gym and jumping castle. Fashionista foodies know this is the Pretoria hot spot for cool people. Food is secondary to socializing and people watching but if you are one of the few who has come to eat not observe you will find elegant artisan breads, herb-laden pates, organic vegetables, Mediterranean style pickles and cherry nougat.

Hazel Food Market is open every Saturday 8am to 2pm and admission is free. People typically spend 30min to 1.5hour.

Mrs. Retha van Hoven is the founder and owner of this market, which has become a huge part of her life since its conception in January 2009. She is passionate about re-establishing the consumer’s relationship with ingredients, and opening the lines of communication between producers of fresh food. The market has also afforded food enthusiasts a space to meet and form lasting bonds with farmers, cooks and bakers alike.

There are 78 food stalls along the outside of the park’s triangle with lovely trees nestled in the middle. Tables and benches are scattered below the trees providing a wonderful peaceful setting where customers rub shoulders and share tables, enjoying the market fare. Several stalls at the market sell wonderfully fresh produce: freshly pressed juices, artisanal breads, muffins and pastries. Visitors can also enjoy fresh fruit and veggies, olive products and diary (milk, butter, yoghurt and eggs) straight from the farms. Extensive brunch options include everything from juicy burgers fresh off the grill, homemade biltong, fragrant freshly ground coffee and artisanal handmade cheeses to authentic Indian and Malay curries, spit-braaied lamb and homemade jams and preserves. Other options include meat and biltong from local farmers, homemade cakes, wraps and pastas, a weigh-and-pay Indian spice stall, a vibrantly colorful one-stop spice shop with an enormous variety of fragrant curries, spices, dried herbs and robust seasonings. For the coffee fanatics, stalls offer a wonderfully fragrant array of beans from all over the world. They also sell home-grown herbs, flowers, and other deli-style products and much more.

This market is a bustling Saturday food experience offering a wide selection of meals. Every Saturday morning visitors will find a wide array of local and international cuisine. In terms of international cuisine Indian, Thai, Greek, Mexican, Portuguese and American-style barbecue can all be sampled. It caters for those who would like to have a different meal. A lovely outing for the whole family with lots of choices between fresh, prepared and fast food. What are the distinctive characteristics of this market?

  • First, the market has created a wonderful sense of community amongst food producers from all over the region, an exciting space for those of us who love to eat, to enjoy fresh local produce, and tasty, satisfying home-cooked meals.

  • Second, the market offers a great day out with the whole family, with a laid-back ambience, more than enough seating space and fun activities for the kids.

  • Third, it is a special market in the sense food is on the one side, crafts on the other. Around the corner there are also about 30 craft stands. This is a lovely stop to make. And one of the largest selection of craft beers in the nearby shops.

  • Forth, it constitutes a food cultural experience with a variety of cuisines from all around the globe from Serbia to Thailand. It also has a great vibe.

  • Other elements include the sharing of producers’ knowledge on the products as well as build relationships with their customers. Because it is designed to be a family-friendly experience, the Hazel Food Market does not sell alcohol. There is also a play area with a jungle gym and jumping castle, making it a relaxing experience for the entire family.

However, there are some issues… unfortunately no music is allowed at the market and the seating is limited. Card facilities are not widely available, so visitors should remember to carry some cash.

The owner introduced in 2015 the new and exciting Hazel Food Night Markets with more than 60 stalls selling food, craft beer, wine and cocktails. Visitors enjoyed a lovely evening under the stars.

Copyright images: Marios Sotiriadis.


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