Bluebird Garage Food & Goods Market
A gluttenous (glutenous? gluttinous?) affair
After a long working week, relax and unwind at the Bluebird Garage Food & Goods Market in Muizenberg. Filled to the rafters with delicious food, locally crafted drinks, and way too many good vibes, it’s a one-stop-shop for Friday night family entertainment.
Three course meal…
I’ve driven past Albertyn Road twice a day, every day for years already. I couldn’t have realised what a wonderful community-inspired festival happens just down that road once a week, until that lucky Friday a few years back when I saw the poster out of the corner of my eye.
I was immediately drawn to the colours and design of the poster. Vibrant, happy colours, but very modest in it’s announcement. To my absolute delight, upon frantically trying to read it before the robot changes, I saw it was an advertisement for a food market. On our doorstep! I vowed the next Friday night we would go and investigate, seeing that I’m drawn to a food market like a moth to a flame.
I excitedly, and somewhat impatiently, waited through the next week, until it was 4pm the following Friday. I hurriedly gathered my belongings and husband, and made my way to Muizenberg. Of course traffic seemed extra slow that day and my stomach seemed extra hungry. We got to Albertyn Road just past 5pm, and already the cars were queuing around the corner. We got a parking spot up one of the side roads and had a brisk walk to the very plain and square looking building next to the train tracks. Loads of people were being sucked into the grey building through a small door. I wondered what waited inside. I hoped it was foodie-licious, but I promised myself not to get too excited just yet. It was a bit of an Alice-in-Wonderland moment; about to jump down the rabbit hole. We joined the crowd and slipped into the building…
It was beautiful. I could now see that we were standing in an old airplane hangar, still grungy with exposed rafters and flaky walls. A touch of fairy lights dappled the huge space in soft down light. It created a warmth that was both welcoming and inviting. Paired with the fragrant wafts of world cuisine, I never wanted to be anywhere else but here.
Nothing much has changed, several visits later. We go to the Bluebird market every time a craving for something specific hits us. Or when we’re too lazy to cook. Or when we don’t want unhealthy takeaways, but feel like comfort food. We make up reasons to go, basically.
There is a small space in the market dedicated to vintage apparel, jewellery and goods. Please don’t pass these by – you will most certainly find something you love in this unique collection of local crafts. You can also stock up on farm-fresh veggies and artisanal breads. Food offerings range from gourmet sandwiches to falafel plates, sushi, burgers, pizzas, spring rolls, vegetarian platters, Greek food and everything in between! Of course, there are chocolates, crepes, coffees and cakes, too!
The centre of the open space is lined with neat tables and benches for communal eating, each adorned with a rustic arrangement of field flowers and candles-in-bottles. Do yourself a favour and look up at the exposed rafters; you will see natural chandeliers made with fairy lights and greenery, adding to the enchanted feel of the space.
In the back, you will find a wooden wonderland for the kids, with slides, swings, ladders and everything they need to burn off that extra energy. At the little bar, you can buy a bottle of local wine to share or a craft beer or cider for dad. They even serve the most refreshing G&T’s!
The best of all for me? This market is all-weather, all seasons. Undercover and warm or undercover and cool, the venue lends itself to the perfect conditions come winter or summer. Bring your umbrella or bring your sunglasses; this market is happening either way. But most of all, I love the rustic feel of the Bluebird Garage Market; it’s modest, honest and totally trendy in an unassuming way.
Most recently we had some time to spare (what a luxury!) and decided to go for an early Friday evening dinner, so to avoid the masses. We got there just after opening at 4pm, and this gave us chance to have a proper look at all the offerings. We circled the food stalls a few times, carefully selecting our goodies for the evening. In the end, we (very predictably) settled for a plate of dim sum and gourmet samosas to share. But then, arms fully loaded with naughty calories, my eye caught sight of something very tasty – empanadas!
Now, I have this theory that you can wrap anything in pastry, bake it and it will be delicious. From veggies to meat to cheese to fruit to chocolate. It just has to be good; it’s a winning formula. Needless to say, we couldn’t pass up on these mini-beauties. Empanadas are stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried in many countries of Latin America and in Spain. The name comes from the Spanish verb “empanar”, meaning to wrap or coat in bread (thanks, Google!).
Oh, my heart sang as I perused the little rows of pastry soldiers, carefully selecting all my favourites: chorizo with ratatouille, ostrich with mango, chilli and chutney, original beef. For dessert, blue cheese empanadas with figs and walnuts. They were little pockets of sheer unadulterated pleasure. We savoured each bite, noting how the flavours complemented each other. Disclaimer: I promise to eat more veggies. I realise that my photos lack greenery, everything’s the colour of gluten!
The dim sum and samosas were delicious and we washed it down with a quick cider. Amidst our foodie bliss, the hangar was filling up fast and so was the vast seating area. The live music got a bit louder, the open space a bit chattier, the kiddies play area a bit busier. But it was a nice kind of bustle, not the “burst out of its seams” kind of bustle. Rather a gentle, reassuring bustle that reminds you that everyone is here for the same reason: a good time in the company of good people, eating good food.
My sweet tooth quickly kicked into overdrive and demanded even more glutenous comfort food. I circled the stalls again, looking for the perfect end to our foodie evening. And then I saw it: the mini-doughnut popping machine from my childhood! The local water-park in the town where I grew up had a vendor who made these mini-doughnuts with his fancy machine. Very often I would stand and watch the machine methodically mix, measure, shape, drop, roll and spit out tens of mini-doughnuts every minute. They were then shoved into a cardboard cone and drowned in chocolate sauce. I was fascinated by this process.
As I made my way to the mini-doughnut stall, I recalled the warm, sugary goodness as you bite into these little rounds; chocolate sauce all over your face. By this time, I was properly salivating and impatiently got into the queue. Six mini-doughnuts and any toppings you like from the selection. I wanted two of each flavour, with as many toppings as could fit onto them. It was all for the photos, remember?!
I proudly made my way back to Karl and our table in the corner with my box of doughnuts. For the next half hour, we didn’t speak much and only the sound of my shutter cut through the sugary silence. We licked our fingers and caught caramel drizzles on our tongues. We picked Astros and mini-marshmallows off the tops of the doughnuts to eat one by one. We made all sorts of yummy noises and smacked our lips together. We were kids again for that half hour. It’s amazing how vividly memories can come flooding back, triggered only by a vague remembrance, a smell, a taste. I was in my happy place, but it could’ve been from the carb-overload, not sure. Either way, a great night.
As I sat back to gather my thoughts, looking out over this beautiful scene in front of me, I realised the importance of a community. Of a family that isn’t related through blood. People you don’t even know at all, but a common interest ties all of you together in a strange, familiar way. How the appreciation of food and local produce resulted in this amazing space where nothing else matters.