Unmissable charming rustic haven
Just along the Maphiveni-Mananga MR24 stretch of tarred road, across the luxuriant vegetation and evergreen sugarcane fields, Vuvulane Food Market is a roadside eatery unlike any other. VUYISILE HLATSHWAYO takes you on a journey to the oasis of Eswatini’s green economy.
Exuding a bohemian ambience, Vuvulane Food Market is one place on the sugar-belt ideal for business and leisure travellers alike. Out and about, I stumble upon this eco-friendly food market, which expresses and promotes the idyllic joy of nature away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Established a year ago, but the simple integrated design and four well-established gardens give it a much more established aura. Just in a jiffy, I establish that this unique place is the brainchild of a Vuvulane-born fashion designer and artist, Khulekani Msweli.
Cleverly landscaped, the fenced yard, graced by fruiting paw paw trees and inviting tables and chairs, provide a feeling of welcome. Too tired of driving in a blazing sun, this unmissable roadside restaurant offers me a brief welcome respite from the heatwave torment. So irresistible its rustic charm is! It is enlivened by the plants and flowers, a vintage cart and granadillas creeping along the rooftop and walls.
As I amble over to the rear counter, the starry eyes of a cheerful well-built waitress greeted mine. Yet the slender one next to her grinned shyly as she continued to steal glances at me. Typical of a well-groomed waitress, Fikile Zwane bowls me over with her hospitable etiquette.
In no time she makes me feel Eswatini royal experience by quickly serving me an ice-cold drink to quench my, by now, palpable thirst, I imagine. Striving for excellent customer service, she describes it as a menu-driven eatery, which rustles up your food while you’re enjoying its relaxed homey atmosphere.
In between the bold white words Fair & Share on the back pallet-built wall adorned with chicken nests is the fair share menu. Neatly chalked up to a small black slate, menu one lists light bites, mealie-bread (if available), muffins and scones, beverages, bottled water, Liquifruit juice, ice pop lollies, filter coffee, rooibos and five roses, earl grey and chai tea, green tea and hot chocolate.
A mouth-watering menu two sets it apart with the Vuvulane chicken, pork with pap and chakalaka, fried rice, beef mince pancake with organic wild garden salad and tripe and pap. Its popularity stems from the famers’ open sandwich prepared with stir-fried chicken, breast and salad. The vegetarian open sandwich comes with the stir-fried mushrooms with salad.
It’s an inspirational garden-to-table restaurant where food is grown in the garden. Then it’s turned into beautiful food in a few moments and metres away before being served to patrons at tables. Each of the four gardens is home to a mix of vegetables and varieties of herbs.
Surrounded with empty beer bottles, the first garden is planted with teas such as mint, lemon grass and pineapple sage. The same goes for the second one filled with herbs like rosemary, marigold, pineapple sage, wild garlic, parsley, basil and lavender. While the third garden is cultivated with tomatoes, lettuce and spinach, the fourth is planted with cabbages, onions and beetroot.
To keep up with the kitchen’s requirements, the owner sources some of the fresh produce from the Vuvulane small-scale farmers. Based on the organic ethos, it emphasises that the food we eat is a result of taking care of the environment. Its takeaways packaging is fully biodegradable, and the ablution is a wood sawdust compost type.
The eco-friendly ablution set in the far end corner is the cleanest and odourless compost toilet using the bucket system. Inside, you are welcomed by the aquatic theme of the seat and a bucket of sawdust on the side. As an effort to minimise damage to the planet, the restaurant’s goal is to encourage patrons to live a more environmentally-conscious life, through eating great organic food.
To complement its appearance, it has a mound of stones and an art piece of a step-like concrete boots signifying the transitional history of the Vuvulane smallholder farmers. Nothing matches the taste of the organic vegetables harvested for same day use.
Combining art and gastronomy, the Vuvulane Food Market is one place worth a visit.
and the contact number +268 7857420.