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86 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch, South Africa


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4.0 rating based on 1 rating
4.0 rating based on 1 rating
4.0 rating based on 1 rating
4.0 rating based on 1 rating
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    Oct 2014 · Dana Sanchez

    Melissa’s The Food Shop is a retail store and restaurant on historic Dorp Street in Stellenbosch where I spent many happy hours...

    Melissa’s The Food Shop is a retail store and restaurant on historic Dorp Street in Stellenbosch where I spent many happy hours looking at the merchandise and probably annoying the staff.

    The way the stuff is displayed at Melissa’s just makes you want to touch it.

    And buy it.

    Mark and Melissa Hoogstraten opened their first store in Kloof Street, Cape Town, in 1996. Now they have 11 including one in Johannesburg.

    In each one you can buy unique products made by food artists around South Africa, only most of them bear the Melissa’s label. There are also fresh-baked quiches made on the premises by trained chefs; mouthwatering cakes, savory dishes and salads prepared each day. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and early dinner or you can just make a meal of cakes and coffee.

    The Hoogstratens only sell products they personally fell in love with, according to Ian Smith, the Melissa’s area manager. I chatted with him at the Stellenbosch Melissa’s.

    The shelves were packed with goodies such as Marmite rice crackers, fynbos honey, elderflower nougat and white chocolate cranberry fudge, to name a few.

    The interior had a cosy, shabby-chic feel and table upon table, and shelf upon shelf of exciting items.

    Melissa’s specialties are pavlovas and meringues, Smith said, and 98 percent of ingredients are organic. Small companies supply the products such as fynbos honey, and Melissa’s puts its label on them.

    “When the owners meet someone or taste something they love — small-time garage startups –they bring them into the shop,” Smith said. “A lot of them catch their eye at small farmers’ markets.”

    For example, Nude Chips, a home-made potato chip line, was a small company that caught Mark and Melissa’s eye. “Now they’re in Pick n Pay,” Smith said.

    Most of the Dorp Street buildings in Stellenbosh have a history. For years, the 100-year-old-plus building that Melissa’s now occupies was a butchery. It still has the original tiles on its walls.

    For lunch, I sat at a long wooden table that seated 10 — the kind you’d expect to find in a farmhouse kitchen. I sipped on a glass of Pecan Stream sauvignon blanc made and bottled by Waterford, Strellenbosch. To my left were some tourists from Ireland and Switzerland. To my right, some South Africans were holding a business lunch meeting.

    On the table was a pile of magazines that people were helping themselves to while they waited for their lunch. I ordered the creamy chicken, leek and white wine pie. It came with chips, a red chili sauce and a side of rocket (arugula) with seeds and a lovely dressing. The pie crust was flaky and crispy — gourmet comfort food.

    For dessert, I tried the beetroot cake. Without giving away too many secrets, barista Shudley Samodien told me how it was made. “Beets finely diced with icing of mascarpone and cream cheese, thin layers of beetroot — sort of like red velvet cake only this is the real beetroot cake.”

    If I’d wanted to, I could have bought a harmonica as an impulse buy at the register as I was leaving Melissa’s. Instead I bought sour dried figs and oopgevlek — or butterflied — figs from two huge bowls by the front door.


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