It’s a dignified historic bank building on the outside, but step through the doors on the corner of Stellenbosch’s Bird and Church streets and you’re welcomed by the tantalising aromas and lively atmosphere of a bustling old-fashioned market: coffee roasting, patisserie fresh from the oven and artisanal bread baking in the brick oven at the back. Fritz Schoon’s idea was to re-create the feel of an old settler’s market, and there’s a dose of Old Europe, too, in the exposed brick walls, high wooden beams and quirky decor.
What’s on the menu
Wander around the various sections with a basket to fill, picking out organic produce from local farmers, a crusty loaf of Schoon sourdough, enticing almond croissants and freshly roasted single-origin coffees, or settle down with the brunch menu at a table in the cosy upstairs gallery, or the light and airy brasserie next to the open bakery. There’s wine, too, at Het Wijnwinkeltje, a carefully selected crop of the most terroir-driven South African wines arranged by region and, last but not least, the irresistible Fanny Chanel ice cream made with Jersey cream and all-natural ingredients.
The start of Schoon De Companje
Fritz’s first love, and the beginnings of the whole Schoon de Companje enterprise, was the bakery. He trained with Markus Farbinger at Île de Pain before moving to Stellenbosch in 2010 and building his wood-fired bread oven. “At Oude Bank Bakkerij I sold slices of bread with local cured meats and matured cheeses. A year later I met a beautiful girl who worked at a patisserie across the road. We were married six months later, set up a small kitchen, and it all led to the start of Schoon De Companje.”
What’s new for Schoon De Companje
He’s excited by their latest Grains of Origin project where, in partnership with farmer James Moffat, they grow a variety of ancient grains. The resulting wit wol koring, Highland hard red wheat and Khorasan grains will be milled in Stellenbosch, and the team is learning how to bake with the freshly milled wholegrain flours with a view to offering training to other aspiring artisan bakers. Fritz says, “[The grains] give us the opportunity, in the bakery, to feel like a chef in kitchen. It is amazing how two grains, in their original form, can differ in flavour and aroma.”
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Words: Kit Heathcock
Images: Amanda Drost