Spice Route, Paarl

Spice Route in Paarl played host to the second and third day of our wonderful Discover Paarl Media trip. This fabulous media educational was organized by the lovely ladies of Hatch Communication.   To see Part 1 click here.

Our tummies were well lined after our scrumptious, hearty breakfast at the Goatshed Restaurant on Fairview Wine Estate.  After a final cup of coffee we were ready to explore the wonders of Spice Route.

Spice Route is an estate just outside Paarl offering a collaborative of unique artisanal products.  Not only is it a sensory overload for the taste buds, there is also an interesting selection of art and handcrafted products too.  The view across the valley is gorgeous.  You could literally spend an entire day soaking it all up.  It’s a wonderful ‘one stop winelands destination’ offering something for everyone.

Our first Spice Route stop was at the wonderful Brenda’s Deli.  On entering, the air was heavy with the aroma of herbs and spices.   For a moment it felt as if we had been transported to a faraway land.

 

The lovely owner, Brenda de Jager has always been intrigued by food and flavours.  Travels to exotic places such as Morocco, Spain and Argentina inspired her to start experimenting with her own blending.  Since 2007 Brenda has been producing the most delicious jams, preserves, spice products and much more.

 

I think we all agree that making our own spice blend in a personalized grinder was one of the highlights of our weekend.   On a table in front of us were containers holding the most beautiful, colourful selection of spices.  Under gentle guidance from Brenda we each got to create our own unique blend.   And now, we lovingly think back to our time at Brenda’s Delhi each time we use our grinder at home.

 

Next up on our itinerary was The Barn Artists Studio Gallery.  The studio and gallery functions as a work and exhibition space for resident painters Diane Back and Jake Watson.  They regularly invite local artists to create and display their work alongside them.  We got to see Diane at work busy with one of her magnificent creations.

 

Outside the door there was a little stand set up with spin art.   This instantly took me straight back to my childhood.  ‘Spin Art’ had always been one of the highlights for me at the local church bazaar.  Literally the last time I saw one of these contraptions was when I was 6 years old.  I am dying to go back to make a few of them sometime!

 

Next up on our Spice Route tour was a visit to the Trading Company.  I think our hosts had to tear us (especially the girls) away from this gem of a shop.  There were just so many absolutely beautiful goodies ranging from jewelry and pottery, to beautiful linen, accessories and stationery.   Abigail stressed the importance they place on stocking authentically handmade, limited edition pieces crafted by local South African artists.  Abigail is a thrifty, creative lady herself.  She pointed out the beautiful rustic shop fitments which had been loving upcycled from gems that had been lying around in some of the old farm sheds.  Thank you for our gorgeous handmade notebooks.  They are coming in very handy.

 

Our next stop was something we really had been looking forward to from the moment our itinerary was emailed to us.  Our close friends will know that Andre & I have a soft spot for craft beer.  So when we heard we would be visiting the Cape Brewing Company, we were super excited!

What an honour to do a brewery tour with the highly skilled brewmaster, Wolfgang Koedel.  Wolfgang and his team craft their beers according to the strict rules of the German Purity Law.  They source only the finest and most pure ingredients, and use state of the art equipment.

 

During the tasting, we worked our way through the amazing selection of beers on offer at CBC.  From the heavier Pilsner to the fruity Amber Weiss each one having their own unique look and finish. The Red Weiss is a little bit special.  It’s unfiltered with a slight red tone from the most expensive caramel malt in the world.  It was safe to say we were in “beer heaven!”

 

After our tasting it was time for refueling at the Barley and Biltong Emporium.   Barley and Biltong  specializes in delicious snack platters consisting of biltong, breads, cheeses, pate’s and cured meats.   As if this was not delicious enough we were treated to a selection of their divine gourmet burgers.  The hand cut double-fried chips were undoubtedly some of the yummiest around!  The weather had started to turn, but the cosy indoor seating with roaring fireplace was perfect.

 

Feeling gastronomically satisfied and somewhat lethargic to say the least, we were off to discover the next Spice Route gem, Red Hot Glass Blowing Studio.

This studio is one of only a handful of true Venetian style glass blowing studios in South Africa.  The art of glass blowing dates back to nearly 300 BC and even today traditional methods are still followed.  How lovely to be able to watch a demonstration by the skilled glassblower and his assistant.

 

We got to browse the beautiful creations in the gallery/shop.  The pieces looked very ethereal in the clear, bright and light space.  Thank you so much for the gorgeous treasures we each received.

 

Our next port of call is definitely one for the sweeter toothed visitor.  We were met by the bubbly and vivacious Raquel Koopman at De Villiers Artisan Chocolate housed in an historic Cape Dutch building.   DV Chocolate is one of few ‘Bean to Bar’ micro batch chocolate makers around.  Only the finest cocoa beans are sourced for the manufacturing of DV Chocolate.  The custom built equipment visible through a glass panel in the tasting room is designed to incorporate ancient chocolate making techniques and the precision of modern computerised technology.

 

It’s hard to imagine that chocolate contains more than 600 flavour compounds.  No wonder it is so addictive!  We got to taste a variety of chocolate made from cocoa beans sourced from various parts of the word.  Once you knew what to look out for (with some guidance from Raquel and the giant ‘flavour wheel,’  it was amazing how different they all were.

The history of chocolate making goes back nearly 4000 years.  After our tasting it was not difficult to understand why the cocoa bean was called “the food of the gods.”

 

There is a lovely shop where one is able to purchase a variety of tantalizing chocolate products.

 

Our last stop for the evening was at the Wilderer Distillery where we were hosted by the friendly Master Distiller, Helmut Wilderer.

Having won numerous gold and double gold medals at the world’s most prestigious competitions, Helmut is regarded internationally, as one of the best in his trade.   He is a true pioneer and father of craft distilling in South Africa and was responsible for opening the first private Grappa distillery in South Africa in 1995.

Helmut’s pride and joy in the form of a beautiful still brought all the way from Germany stands majestically behind a plate of glass in the tasting room.

After an introduction by Helmut accompanied by some delicious tappas, we had a guided tasting of several grappas and eau de vies.  Afterwards we were treated to a myriad of delicious pizza and flammkuchen.  I could not resist leaving without a bottle of the very unique CBC “bierschnapps.”

 

We ended off the evening with a good cuppa  (cute coffee art and all) and after a quick “happy birthday” song  for Charles Back who was celebrating with his family, we were off to bed after a fabulous day exploring Spice Route.

 

We woke up to a chilly Sunday morning, but all was well in our luxurious suite in the Manor House at Diamant Estate.

A lovely breakfast awaited us at the function venue with a cosy outdoor fire.  This was just perfect for a chilly winter’s morning in Paarl.

Wedding and Function co-ordinator MT Ferreira and his friendly doggies were there to meet us.  This Border Collie and friend, the Jack Russel both suffer from a serious case of FOMO, and it’s too cute to see how they follow MT all over the estate just in case they miss out on something!

 

As Cape Town wedding photographers, we were particularly interested in seeing the wedding function areas of the estate.  We’d already identified that there are LOADS of lovely spots for photo opportunities.

Diamant Estate certainly offers a one stop wedding destination with ample accommodation for the guests, a wedding chapel (or alternatively the beautiful lawns for an outdoor ceremony) and a rustic function venue.

 

We cannot wait to see the newly renovated function area which is currently being lovingly restored using some of the original farm outbuildings.  The textures and light filtering in made for some interesting images.

 

MT is so passionate about the estate.  His vision of creating a personalized experience for each wedding couple along with the 5 star service, is probably one of the reasons Diamant Estate just recently won ‘Top Wine Farm Wedding Venue’ in the Peers Choice Category  in the Top Vendor Awards.

 

Sadly our time at Diamant Estate had come to an end, and we were off and after a quick group photo we were off on our final adventure for the weekend.

 

Our second last stop was at Spice Route Wines.  Grapes for their wines are sourced from the Swartland region.  The unique mix of deep red soils, hot summers and a cooling breeze from the Atlantic Ocean at night create the deep robust and spicy wines they are so well known for.

The tasting room is cosy and rustic. Interesting touches of décor and wall murals tell the story of the ancient mariners of the 15th century who braved the Cape of Storms as they plied their trade bringing exotic Eastern spices to Western Europe along the so-called ‘Spice Route’.

 

We got to do a wine and charcuterie paring in the cosy, rustic tasting room that formed part of the original wine cellar.  The delicious flavours of Richard Bosman’s Quality cured meats complimented the Spice Route Wines perfectly.   With a philosophy of interfering as little as possible with the meat, Bosman and his team rely on quality and time to make the magic happen. The meat is hand-salted, hung and cured for 2 – 12 months.

 

We were rather sad that we had reached the end of our weekend, but we certainly ended it on a high with the most sumptuous lunch at Bertus Basson’s Restuarant.

What a gorgeous setting with uninterrupted views across the valley.

 

The décor has a typical South African flare to match the menu, yet there are splashes of oriental theme so ever present at Spice Route splashed in here and there too.

 

Bertus and Chef Allistaire have managed to take traditional South African family recipes and add a modern twist – the result pure bliss!  It was an impossible to choose a favourite dish, as EVERYTHING was just delicious!

 

And so our wonderful Discover Paarl weekend had come to an end.  There aren’t enough words to thank all who made it possible, but we hope that our gratitude is conveyed through our images.  We’ll most certainly be back!

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