Spice Route: Food & Fun for Everyone

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I love the Winelands, and I love my wine. But if I’m not drinking, there’s no point visiting a wine estate, right? Wrong. I have two words for you, my friend: Spice Route.

One of the ultimate food and wine destinations in the Cape and a mere 7 kilometres from Paarl, this venue literally has a feast of food and fun for everyone. Even non-drinkers. Especially non-drinkers, actually.

So, since I’m having a dry January, Spice Route seemed like the perfect place to visit for all the benefits and fun of a wine farm without the alcohol. And let’s face it: millions of people live alcohol-free lives, whether for religious, health or lifestyle reasons. Just because you don’t drink doesn’t mean you don’t want to enjoy the finer things in life!

The good news is that you won’t even miss your dop when you visit Spice Route. Do take plenty of money, though, because the range of temptations is just to great to resist. You WILL want to buy everything you see, and why not? Think of all the money you’re saving by not drinking and go right ahead and spoil yourself, honey bun.

You’ll also most likely want to spend the entire day there, so plan accordingly. I visited on 3 consecutive days this month, and I still haven’t seen and done everything.

There is ample parking and huge lawns for kiddies to run around on. Spectacular views from pretty much everywhere, including the vast tree-shaded verandah outside famous chef Bertus Basson’s restaurant. Bertus Basson at Spice Route serves a tightly edited menu of popular favourites, including some delicious riffs on authentic Boerekos – like coffee and rusks, the perennial favourite of toast with cheese and jam, plaatkoekies with brown butter and syrup and Tannie Hetta’s old-fashioned apple pie and custard. Service is warm and enthusiastic, the portions hearty, the views unsurpassable and the coffee delicious.

House brand Häzz coffee beans are sold, and highly  recommended: a lovely full-bodied, mellow roast that won’t give you caffeine shakes no matter how much you drink of it. Preserves and spices are also sold inside the restaurant and if you leave without a jar of onion marmalade, old-fashioned cucumber pickle and the AMAZING smoked chilli paste, you’ll regret it!

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Boerekos with a modern twist by chef Bertus Basson at Spice Route, Paarl
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Bertus Basson restaurant at Spice Route, Paarl
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Interior, Bertus Basson at Spice Route.
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The maestro himself, Bertus Basson at Spice Route
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Bertus Basson plating salads at his Spice Route restaurant

The lunch menu is simple and straightforward. Classics like steak tartare, chicken liver paté, Malay-spiced calamari and Boere-salad with biltong and fresh apricot make up the starters; mains are mostly hearty and meaty. Only the best quality local ingredients find their way to the table, as can be expected from a country lad made good like Bertus.

I just love the fact that you can have Boerekos classics like koffie en beskuit, pampoenkoekies (pumpkin fritters) and bobotie met geelrys (bobotie and yellow rice) in such a  cool, hip and modern restaurant.

Got foreign visitors? Treat them to lunch by Bertus Basson at Spice Route for the real taste of South Africa.

My best tip is to go hungry and order everything on the menu. The traditional Sunday roast lunch is only R290 per head, with everything served on the table so you can help yourself.

Alternatively, pack a picnic basket with your own favourites from the deli inside Bertus’s restaurant, and make yourself comfortable on the lawn. Umbrellas, cushions and picnic blankets are thoughtfully set out each morning on the lawns next to the restaurant – all you have to do is decide what you want to eat and drink, then settle in for a long and lazy, lekker kuier.

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Good vibes spill out from the restaurant onto the shady verandah at Bertus Basson, Spice Route, Paarl
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Rusks and coffee with a view, Spice Route, Paarl
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Steak Tartare and Parmesan Triple-cooked chips, Bertus Basson at Spice Route, Paarl
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Malay-spiced crispy calamari, Bertus Basson at Spice Route, Paarl
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Fresh and juicy garden salad, Bertus Basson at Spice Route, Paarl
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Tannie Hetta’s apple pie with vanilla custard. I’d drive all the way from Cape Town for this pud! Bertus Basson at Spice Route, Paarl
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Breakfast of champions: lamb rib hash with potatoes, sweet peppers and fried eggs. Bertus Basson at Spice Route, Paarl
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Buttermilk Brown Butter Plaatkoekies like only Bertus Basson can make it at Spice Route, Paarl: blueberries, strawberries and maple syrup. Heaven on a plate!
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Dunking is obligatory! Koffie en beskuit, Bertus Basson at Spice Route, Paarl

If you love cured meats of all kinds like ham and salami, your next stop should be Richard Bosman’s Cured Meats charcuterie shop. A huge choice of delicious hand-made cured meats and sausages are on display, with tastings offered.

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Hand-made cured meats from Richard Bosman, Spice Route, Paarl

Next door, the Wine Tasting Room is well-stocked with Spice Route Wines from the surrounding Swartland region:

Renowned for its hand-crafted wines from the Swartland region, with exotic names such as Chakalaka and Malabar, Spice Route Wines can now be enjoyed at its new home in the Paarl Winelands.

Enjoy the award winning wines in a rustic underground tasting room, or outside under the pergola or laze on the rolling lawn, whilst enjoying the panoramic views of Table Mountain and the Simonsberg Mountain range. The relaxed and informal atmosphere and the tranquil surroundings create the perfect setting for a memorable tasting experience.

Between Bertus and Richard’s places lies The Trading Company, an Aladdin’s Cave crammed with must-have stuff.

The Trading Company has a bright and colourful display of homeware and knicknacks, pretty handmade jewellery and stunning hats. I can guarantee you’ll find something there that you just can’t live without. It’s a quirky store with decor that is an eclectic mix of old and new.

The store fits in perfectly with the Spice Route philosophy of making authentic, hand crafted products more accessible to the public. Carefully selected homeware, exotic furniture, baby products, one-of-a-kind jewelry and notebooks are a true celebration of local design and make perfect gifts. Most of the products are made from natural and raw materials. All décor used in the store is also handmade locally, or up-cycled by local artists.

 The Trading Company is open daily from 10am to 5pm. For more information contact 021 8635223. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook @SpiceRoutePaarl for the latest updates on the store

Open Monday – Sunday : 10:00-17:00

021 863 5223

contact tradingco@gmail.com

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The Trading Company, Spice Route, Paarl

For beer and fresh air lovers, Barley and Biltong has crowd-sized outdoors tables and benches underneath a shady pergola. Stunning views over the valley are guaranteed to put you in a good mood while you enjoy a generous pub lunch with your beer.

Boasting one of the best views of Table Mountain and the Paarl Winelands, Barley & Biltong is a beer garden with a local twist. Craft beer and biltong lovers can look forward to enjoying an ice cold pint of their favourite CBC beer together with our carefully selected range of Beef, Kudu, Eland and  Springbok biltong. We also offer satisfying gourmet burgers and hand cut double-fried chips.
*Please note – they do not offer biltong tastings.

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Stick-to-yer-ribs pub lunch at Barley and Biltong, Spice Route, Paarl

CBC brewery is every craft beer lover’s dream come true: enjoy a guided flight of craft beers made and bottled on the spot. Well worth a visit to see the fascinating process, even if, like me, you are not a beer aficionado.

The Cape Brewing Company, also known as CBC, produces and offers a wide range of beers using only the finest ingredients and state-of-the-art equipment. Highly-skilled brewmaster Wolfgang Koedel is in charge.

Beerlovers can view the facilities to follow the entire beer production process with a tasting afterwards either on tap, or at one of the tasting stations.

Monday – Sunday : 10:00-17:00

021 863 2270

info@capebrewing.co.za www.capebrewing.co.za

Standard tasting: R30 for 4 beer tasters ( 4 x CBC beers )

Master tasting: R40 for 6 beer tasters

(4 x CBC beers + 2 x Jack Black beers )

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Enjoy craft beer on tap at Cape Brewing Company, Spice Route, Paarl
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Enjoy a guided flight of craft beers at CBC, Spice Route, Paarl
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CBC – Cape Brewing Company – serves craft beer on tap at Spice Route, Paarl

Spice Route is exceptionally welcoming to families and little children but rest assured, the generous layout of the estate means there are ample spots where you can enjoy peace and quiet without other people’s noisy brats underfoot. The kiddies’ play area is set well away from the main attractions, something non-parents will appreciate.

I’ll freely admit that the first time I visited Spice Route, on a public holiday, I was less than charmed by the sheer amount of visitors, but all subsequent visits have neatly put paid to my reservations and I actually found it most relaxing. If crowds make you angsty, best avoid public holiday visits, simple as that.

The crown jewel for me was the chocolate tasting at De Villiers Artisan Chocolate Studio. Man alive, this is paradise for a chocaholic. I must have bought just about every single thing in the shop and I will never buy imported chocolate again. Who needs to, with such sensational locally-made chocolate? The sheer choice available is staggering, and not at all expensive. Treat yourself to a box of hand-made truffles, at only R7 each. So pretty, you can hardly bear to pop one in your mouth but oh, who can resist!

I had the Single Origin Chocolate Experience, a real education in the varied taste sensations of dark chocolate from different geographic spots. All the cacao beans are roasted on the premises before being crafted into chocolate bars and confectionery.

DV Artisan Chocolate is crafted by the De Villiers family and is one of few ‘Bean to Bar’ micro batch chocolate makers in the world. All DV Artisan Chocolates are  hand-crafted and available for tasting on the farm.

Chocolate Truffle Workshops are available every Saturday and Sunday morning from 10h00 – 11h00, provided we have at least 3 days notice and a minimum of 6 guests per class. Maximum 15 guests.

Monday – Sunday : 09:00-17:00

021 863 0854

info@dvchocolate.com | www.dvchocolate.com

Chocolate & Confectionery Tasting: R25 per person

Single Origin Chocolate Experience: R35

Duration: 25 minutes (Bookings required for groups of 10 or more)

Chocolate Truffle Workshop: R125

Duration: 60 minutes (Bookings required)

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Chocolate bliss at De Villiers Artisan Chocolate Studio, Spice Route, Paarl
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Chocaholic heaven at De Villiers Artisan Chocolate Studio, Spice Route, Paarl

I didn’t have time to visit La Grapperia for a lazy alfresco pizza but I’m under strict instructions from my teenage children that it will be our next port of call at Spice Route.

Enjoy a selection of wood-fired, thin-base pizza, Flammkuchen and tapas with a glass of wine on tap at La Grapperia, situated right next-door to the distillery. Get cosy inside around the fireplace, or chill underneath the shady oaks outside, and take in some of the spectacular views Spice Route  has to offer!

Open Monday – Sunday 11h30 – 20h30. Phone 021 863 4367/ 076 261 4693

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La Grapperia serves pizzas at Spice Route, Paarl

Wilderer Distillery is at the far end of the estate, and if you are imbibing, it’s a must-visit for a taste of their fynbos gin, grappa and eau de vie (think witblits, only way nicer, gentler and altogether classier).

Visit Wilderer Distillery and witness Master Distiller, Helmut Wilderer and his team, craft some of the world’s finest grappa & eaux de vie. 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. A true pioneer and father of craft distilling in South Africa, having opened the first private distillery in 1994.

Come and experience how only the best raw material and latest German distilling equipment is used, to create the product which has made Wilderer beloved by connoisseurs around the world.

Monday – Sunday : 10:00-18:00

021 863 4367 / 076 261 4693

grapperia@wilderer.co.za  www.wilderer.co.za

Standard Tasting: R30 per person

Master Tasting: R50 per person

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Wilderer Fynbos Gin, Spice Route
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Celebrating life with food, wine, friends & happiness! Writer, cook and blogger. Author of four cookbooks. Passionately South African, proudly Capetonian.