Beer. Chocolate. Even grappa. You’ll find a unique combination of artisanal products – and great wine – at The Spice Route estate in Paarl, a 40-minute drive from Cape Town.
Many estates in the winelands around Cape Town focus on one product: wine. Spice Route, however, goes further to become a one-stop shop for a range of goods from wine to beer, chocolate and more.
The reason it works so well is that great care has been taken in the selection of a range of artisanal producers whose produce perfectly complements the wine.
First and foremost, Spice Route is well worth visiting for the wine alone. The brainchild of Charles Back, owner of neighbouring estate Fairview, Spice Route was one of the first wineries to make use of the older vineyards of the Swartland wine region north of Cape Town. The result is a range of superb wines that will remind wine lovers of the Rhone valley and Languedoc. Their Mourvedre and Grenache are superb, as is the Rhone-style blend, Chakalaka.
Once you’ve sipped and swirled your way through a wine tasting it’s essential to explore the rest of the estate. Bean-to-bar chocolate-maker Pieter de Villiers moved his small facility from Hermanus to Spice Route in early 2012 and today turns out wonderful artisan chocolates. Your best option here is a guided tasting, where you’ll sample their 70% single-origin bars made with beans from Trinidad, Uganda and Madagascar.
Down the hill you’ll find the Wilderer Distillery, where you can taste the delicious range of grappa and fruit spirits from Master Distiller Helmut Wilderer. Alongside the distillery, their casual La Grapparia Restaurant offers wood-fired pizza, flammkuchen and tapas at rustic outdoor tables.
Lastly, don’t miss the Cape Brewing Company run by respected brewmaster Wolfgang Koedel. He brews up a range of excellent beers, including a pilsner, weiss and India Pale Ale. Enjoy a guided tasting in the brewery, or hop next door for a beer and a bite at the Barley & Biltong brewpub.
Everybody likes a happy ending, and by that we mean a knockout dessert of course. Not sure which Cape Town restaurants will deliver a grand finale to your meal? We did some of the hard work for you…
Chef Scot Kirton has done well to put La Colombe on the culinary map with his multi-course tasting menus, but he’s also a chef who knows how to finish strong. Rounding out his Gourmand menu is a dish titled simply; ‘Strawberries and Green’.
Cucumber ice cream? Celery leaf? Verbena and cashew? Not what you’d expect from a memorable dessert dish, but the combination of flavours and textures of strawberries will amaze you.
Around the corner there’s more fine dining fare at The Greenhouse, where Executive Chef Peter Tempelhoff’s wizardry with a gateaux of Madagascan chocolate and pistachio is equally impressive.
Or, think classic, and there’s little that can beat a textbook chocolate fondant made using quality dark chocolate and cooked to perfection. Giorgio Nava at modern Italian restaurant 95 Keerom ticks both of those boxes with his legendary version of this classic bistro dish. Paired with an imported grappa it’s a dessert to remember.
Of course a decadent dessert doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple ice cream cone, done well, is perhaps the queen of desserts. Our favourite? Any one of The Creamery branches across Cape Town. The Mouille Point and Newlands outlets are your best bet, and both are open until 11pm Tuesday to Sunday.
Speaking of ice cream: you don’t want to miss the black sesame ice cream at Kyoto Garden Sushi on Kloof Nek Road. While the sushi and Japanese cuisine here is arguably the best in the city, they don’t disappoint come dessert time either.
The same goes for Tjing Tjing Torii in the city centre: expect delicious small-plate Asian dishes, wrapped up with a memorable dessert that pairs black sesame ice cream with creamy matcha ice cream and a pancake of red bean paste. Delicious.
Waterford Estate, a 30-minute drive from Cape Town on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, offers one of the finest wine-tasting experiences in the Cape winelands. Here’s why…
Waterford cellar master Kevin Arnold crafts some of the finest wine in the Cape winelands, happily matched by a seriously upmarket tasting experience on this Stellenbosch estate.
That experience begins as you wander up avenues of citrus trees to winery that wouldn’t look out of place in the hills of Tuscany. A shady courtyard is a welcome escape from the summer heat and the charming tasting room offers a wonderful array of wine-tasting experiences.
In addition to a standard tasting of the Waterford wines, the Vintage Reserve tasting allows you to sample a selection of the cellar’s acclaimed Reserve Wines. Reservations are essential for the Library Collection tasting, the perfect choice for wine lovers looking for a taste of selected older vintages.
For those with a sweet tooth, the Chocolate and Wine pairing matches Arnold’s top-notch wines with chocolates from chocolatier Richard von Geusau. Taste your way through Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and natural sweet wines, each paired with dark and milk chocolates.
The Wine Drive is also worthwhile: a two-hour exploration of the estate, with knowledgeable guides explaining the estate’s terroir as you discover the vineyards. The drive ends with a tasting back at the cellar.
From gourmet milkshakes to artisan Banting chocolate, we’ve found the best places for you to get your chocolate fix in Cape Town.
1. My Sugar
Sugar for My Sugar! Say hello to the chocolate milkshake of your dreams at My Sugar Chocolate and Coffee Bar. Or sip on micro-roasted coffee that’s been specially blended to match their exquisite handcrafted chocolates. Mmm… two fixes in one.
Nomu’s skinny hot chocolate is a tried-and-tested South African favourite, but if you’re feeling more adventurous give their chocolate fondant or chocolate brownie baking kits a whirl. Pssst… there’s a naughty peanut-butter variation for both on the back of the box. And PPS: Nomu also does other delicious foodie products of the non-chocolate variety.
3. Lindt Chocolate Studio
Learn how to make your own at the studios of these Swiss chocolatiers… with or without the kids.
4. Le Chocolatier
Paleo from Le Chocolatier is the new ‘healthy chocolate’ rage. Made with raw organic honey from the Overberg region, raw cacao mass and raw cacao butter it will satisfy even the strictest of Banting devotees, or those who can’t eat sugar.
5. Honest Chocolate Café
Do yourself a favour and try the Banana Bread Bunny Chow; banana bread hollowed out and filled with ice-cream and chocolate sauce with a serving of spiced nuts on the side. You can thank us later.
6. The Creamery Ice Cream Company
If you’re a chocolate die-hard, you’ll want The Creamery’s most popular flavour, 65% chocolate. Throw in their seasonal fruit flavours including Yellow Nectarine, Lime Curd Swirl, and Catawba Grape, and we’re done. All made with local, sustainably produced ingredients.