Driving through the warren of Stepford-style mansions to get to the market is tricky. Okay, we’re a little lost. Luckily, we can hear the booming voice of the polo commentator, which we follow until we find ourselves joining the wellheeled throng spilling into the Market at Val de Vie.
Famed for its Polo Club as well as for Olympian and marketing director, Ryk Neethling, Val de Vie is a residential wine estate – one that boasts its own health club, restaurant, tennis academy and Ryk’s swimming school. And, now that season’s here, a market too.
The market’s unique selling point is the live polo match, which takes place right in front of the crowd. Horses gallop across the expansive playing field while Paarl’s blue sky shimmers above. People in Panama hats lounge on the grass, drinking wine. Expensive cars prop up expensive polo paintings. It’s all very exciting. And hot. The market section is set up along the walls of the Polo Pavilion’s terraces. There are stalls selling home-style pies, bratwurst, pastries, ice cream and the like. We meander through looking for some cold beers, which we find in an interior bar. On the way there, we pass through racks of high-end clothing, hats, bikinis and jewellery. Seating is easy to find – we see there are plenty of tables on the terrace and market-goers have commandeered part of the inside of the restaurant too.
There is a small kiddies’ play park and many of the little ones, fascinated by the horses, crowd around the fence at the end of the field.
With craft beers in hand, the next step is to find something to eat. Parked among the painting-propping cars is a selection of food trucks. Pizza, burgers and tacos – it’s all happening, but I’m drawn to the retro Meisies Kitchen Food Truck. Perusing the menu between sips, I decide on a Banting-friendly dish of chicken breast, salad and sage ‘caulirice’ (cauliflower rice).
Live-music lovers will be pleased to know folk-rock duo, Bottomless Coffee Band are regular performers here.