Sugar & Spice in Paarl

Greg Landman seeks out Paarl’s sugar and spice and all things nice.

The-Spice-Route-Restaurant-(1)THE SPICE ROUTE

Phone 021 863 5222

Charles Back, according to Beryl, who knows a lot about this sort of thing, is “one of the cleverest people in the wine business”. His knowledge extends to goats, bread, olive oil, food, and wine. He has taken over what used to be Seidelberg, renamed it The Spice Route, and made it a hive of activity, a destination of note.

Today those fabulous glassblowers Red Hot Glass are in full swing here, and the wines are flowing, artisanal beer is being made, chocolates are to be found, pizzas are popping and the grappa site is a favourite. “It’s all too much for one visit, dear, let’s just go and eat,” said know-it-all, so we did. The kitchen is under the sure hand of Marion Kumpf, ex Aubergine. While there are some Malay touches, the menu has a broad appeal, featuring the best local fresh produce, enhanced by the spices after which the farm takes its name, with German-born Marion bringing a European sensibility to this treasure at the foot of Africa.

We started with Cape Malay bouillabaisse (R56), delightful, intense and spicy, and the duck liver parfait (R58), deliciously creamy, served with strawberry and waterblommetjie preserve and salted caramelised almonds. Beryl went on to the royal lamb korma curry, rich and aromatic with its cream and almonds. I had the knockout tiger prawns and mussels with roast garlic and lemon herb sauce, served with crescent-shaped pasta filled with sweet carrot and tomato ragout (R126). Desserts were mango basil crème brûlée served with mini profiteroles filled with coconut mousse and lemon (R49), and tapioca pie with blueberry almond compote, delightfully tangy.

An excellent meal in an unrivalled setting with wrap-around views. Wines of the estate are served at cellar door prices, which more people should emulate.

TERRA MARE

Phone 021 863 4805

Fond memories drew us back to this excellent spot in Paarl last week. The restaurant belongs to Olivier and Delenia Jaeggi-Wright, (he is Swiss and she of Italian descent), which results in a most appealing combination of European style cuisine with the best that local ingredients have to offer.

The chef in the kitchen is Thabo Nqadie, who has been with Olivier for seven years and is no mean slouch at knocking up some great food. Absolutely unbeatable starters of three mushroom risotto with mascarpone (R81) and gnocchi with a heavenly blue cheese sauce with sliced Parma ham (R85), sit side by side with springbok carpaccio with chakalaka cheese served with Malay spiced oil (R58), nice and edgy. The Vitello Tonnato (R57) was deliciously pink on a bed of mixed baby greens.

Beryl was her usual exuberant self, especially after two or three glasses of bubbly, and went over to some fellow diners to ask about their “heavenly” dessert. She thinks the world is her oyster, but nobody seems to mind. It was a superb ice-cold limoncello sorbet with dousings of equally cold limoncello top and bottom and a glacé cherry or two lurking (R39). Ice-cold liquor and sugar with the tang of real lemons is a knockout. She had two. I had the tiramisu (R56), deliciously light and with a kick of its own. Service is comfortably country, very friendly and knowledgeable, and the wine list is, as one would expect in Paarl, varied and interesting.

Greg Landman

As the wine writer for Country Life magazine for the last 15 years, Greg has met and interviewed more than 150 of the country’s top wine makers. His articles offer unique insights into where to eat, what to drink, and where to go all over the Western Cape. With his dining companion Beryl Ormsby Browne, he has also reviewed more than 60 country restaurants for the magazine and has been a reviewer for the prestigious Eat Out Guide for 12 years. His passion for everything the winelands has to offer has led him into the world of wine tours. To find out more, visit his website Magic Grape Tours.

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