Scenes you can expect at the fair.
Scenes you can expect at the fair.
Image: Annemarie Burger

When September is on the horizon, so is the annual Hartiwood Food and Film Fair. This year, the increasing fan-base will be happier than ever. This is an evening food market fiesta which has outstripped many others in years gone by and looks to be even more fantastic this time around. Clear your calendar for September’s first weekend and head out to Hartbeespoort.

Don’t take padkos. You want to arrive really hungry. Though not enough celebrated for it, North West is a gastronomic paradise, with agricultural abundance and an ever-increasing community of artisanal producers. Properly, truly, actually artisanal.  The fair features mainly local producers and farmers but also boasts top-drawer food-makers and growers from further-flung regions of the country. The area becomes a richer gastronomic haven every year and not just for the weekend of the fair- residents who run bakeries, roasteries and farms nearby are swelling the ranks.

There’s Moroccan-born resident Touria Vally, who’ll be selling north-African tagines; David Hobbs and Sonel Venter of Tostada Bakery, who earned their proverbial chops at Knysna’s revered Ile de Pain, as well as Tracy Nelwamondo, with her famed baobab ice cream, and livestock farmer Mike Crewe-Brown – something of a legend in these parts and beyond – who’ll be putting his indigenous Pedi sheep on a barbecue. There are also macarons from the Prue Leith chefs and, in a less dainty but just as tempting vein, a great showing from the koek side of things: pannekoek, roosterkoek and, of course, vetkoek. Plus, you’ll be knee-deep in artisanal gin, beer and mampoer. Booking a night in a nearby B&B might not be the worst idea anyone ever had.    

Delicious treats at the Hartiwood Food and Film show.
Delicious treats at the Hartiwood Food and Film show.
Image: Richard Goode

The produce might be hip and happening, much of it in line with global trends, but what I love is the event feels entirely unpretentious. It’s both village-y and eccentric. That might be partly because the event always takes place in and around a set made by local film company Hartiwood Films for one of their movies. There’s a slightly surreal, off-beatness about this which works fantastically. This year it is set in Pretville, constructed as a 50s town for the movie, with a functioning bioscope including a working vintage projector (vintage movies run the whole evening). 


Those makers at the Hartiwood festival who call themselves artisans are, in fact (most unusually), actual artisans. But do the rest of us have any clue as to what this term means any more? There’s hardly a food word that’s more abused. It’s clearly idiocy when huge supermarket chains label items “artisanal” but does that mean we should just laugh it off? Check out some thoughts on the matter here  and here. 

Slightly off-piste, but craft-beer related, find out more about yeast grown in the master brewer’s beard. If you like that sort of thing, of course! 

Hartiwood Food & Film Show takes place on September 1 2018.

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