Just when I thought I had seen everything and there was nothing new left to explore, Joburg throws me a googly! I had no idea that Paris was just an hour’s drive from Johannesburg! I am serious – you can see the Eiffel Tower and even the Pont des Arts or the lock bridge as it’s popularly known (although the locks were taken off a few months ago I am told) – right here in South Africa!
Well truth be told, for the shooting of a film called French Toast, a cafe was built in Hartbeespoort which was used as a bar in the film. This bar was shown to be located in Montmartre in Paris and was called Café Alexandre in the movie. Post the filming, this bar-set has been converted into a real cafe which is called Frenchtoast Koffie Kafee and is open to public. To make the movie set look like Paris, certain props were built, including a 12.5m Eiffel Tower, the lock bridge and the ‘I love you’ wall. These have been left at the cafe and adds to its appeal.
This past weekend, the Hartiwood Food & Film event was organised at the Frenchtoast Koffie Kafee and I could not resist driving all the way to Hartbeespoort, about 70km from Joburg. Hartiwood Food & Film show is an artisan food and wine market where culinary movies are also screened. Having lured K with the promise of some yummy food and a chilled out afternoon, we reached the place around lunchtime on Saturday.
The food & film show was in full swing. As with similar events, pretty little stalls dotted the grounds. There was quite a variety of food to choose from – Indian, Thai, Moroccan, Palestinian (I was delighted to find the lady from King Arabic Sandwiches in Mayfair, selling her delicious stuffed pies), French, local boeries, burgers, sandwiches, desserts and bakes. In addition, there was a wide range of drinks on sale too – no food market in SA is complete without craft beers and wines Most of the exhibitors were small local businesses from in and around the area and Joburg and I feel it’s always nice to support them. Each time, I am amazed by the talent and the sheer determination that some of these business owners have, to succeed and to make it big.
Besides the food and drinks, the market had some really great entertainment. There were two separate areas with live music and two theaters where movies were being screened. While we did not have time to watch a movie, we did really enjoy the music. The atmosphere was just so serene. A beautiful garden with large trees providing dappled shade, large groups of happy people eating and drinking, great music wafting through the air and majestic peacocks just trotting around! Everything seemed to be in perfect harmony.
By the time we got around to the actual cafe, both K and I were too full to eat or drink anything. So we just walked around and snapped some pictures of the Eiffel tower and the bridge. Although these were just props, it actually felt like we were in Paris! The cafe itself looked very pretty but I guess we will have to make the long drive another time, to actually try out their food.
Hartiwood food & film show is an annual event but the cafe is open throughout the week.
Address: Hartbeespoort Aquarium, R511 R27, Hartbeespoort
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 7:30am – 17:00pm