New day and a new set of eating and drinking to be done!
Today’s first stop was the Spice Route. Set in the Paarl mountains.
It was a bit of a mission to get to as they are digging up the one road that takes you there, but it was entirely worth it! Again, the scenery is just stunning. You can see for miles and it’s mostly vineyards. There are mountains and clouds, and sunshine. What is not to love here?!
We started with a wine tasting with food pairing. Let me just show you this thing of beauty before I even start with words…
As you can see, there was one white and three red. Sadly, despite trying to write them down to remember them, I can’t. I also can’t read my scrawl from that day. I write so infrequently that when I do, it’s illegible.
As an aide, there needs to be more white involved in tastings. Red is fine but it’s never going to rock my word. I’d much prefer one red and three white!!
Did the foods and the wine work together? I don’t know. The food was good and the wine was good, so that totally counts! I am not practiced enough at this kind of thing to be able to tell yet! I’ll get there one day!
As an added bonus, they were trying out a new taste plate and so we tried that too. I prefer the original but I live in Dubai so am always happier than most people to see pork put in front of me!
Sitting there in the shade of the giant trees, sipping wine and nibbling on tasty food was just heavenly. It honestly makes you wonder why a) you work for a living, and b) why you don’t live somewhere that you can do this kind of thing more often.
After that we had a little amble around the shops, through the place with the biltong platters (there just wasn’t enough time, sadly) and through to the craft beer brewery for a bit of a nosy.
Now, I don’t like beer of any description. I hate the taste and the smell. I think it looks pretty, but just no. Grim. Walking into a brewery and production plant did not work for me, no matter how fascinating it was. I raced around and took a few photos and then made a bolt for freedom and fresh air!
We started with the dark chocolate tasting. The very interesting lady talked us though absolutely everything, but I am shamed to say that I have forgotten it all because I was faaaaaaar too busy focusing on when we would get the chocolate!
Then it was laid out….
Hellloooooo dark chocolate heaven! I’m here! And I’m ready!
You are first given some pure coco butter to rub over your hands in order to mask whatever else may be lingering smell wise, so you can have all of your senses involved in the chocolate. Then you want to eat your hands. No? Was that just me?!
You start with the Ugandan one, which is being used nearly as a palette cleanser. It was quite mild for a dark chocolate due to it being the least bitter of the 6. Everyone else ate the whole thing, but I had a genius plan, which I will tell you about in a moment.
You do the same with the rest, all the while the flavours and the origins are being explained to you by a lovely wee girl who looks like she never eats the chocolate. If she hadn’t been so sweet, I would have not trusted her at all. After all, never trust someone who doesn’t like chocolate. Or is that just me, again?!
Each time everyone ate their whole square, and I kept on only eating half. There is a reason for this. I figured that if your mouth had to get used to the tastes with the Ugandan one in the first place, then by the time you’d eaten them all, you would be totally used to it and you would be able to get even more out of the flavours.
I was completely right! Going around the second time gave me a new perspective to the point that I changed my favourite from the Sao Tome to the Venezuela Rio Caribe. By that second time around, it was just so rich and velvety that you couldn’t help to fall in love with it.
I highly recommend picking up both the Venezuela Rio Caribre and the Venezuela Carenero if you are there, even if you don’t have time to do the tasting. They are just stunning. The Sao Tome would be my 3rd choice, followed by the Madagascar Sambirano Valley in 4th, the Trinidad & Tobago in 5th, and lastly the Uganda. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like the ones that come lower down the list. They are all beautiful chocolates. I just prefer the others!!
(If anyone that I know is there anytime soon, a care package would be hugely appreciated!!)
Before I move onto the next step, have a picture of the flavour wheel, and the lovely machines that make the chocolate in house!
Yep. We did.
Nope. Not lying.
Why? Did you hear the bit about chocolate?!
I have to admit, after the beautiful darkness of the chocolate we had just consumed, the sweetness of the added sugar chocolate made for an interesting experience. Fairly revolting actually! I wonder if had you done it the other way around, then you would find the dark chocolate too much too? Entirely possible I guess.
There was still a couple of star pieces still though… the Nibs & Salt and the Sea Salt & Caramel. Divine!
Just when you think you’re finished, they give you a little last treat… a hot chocolate. Made with the chocolate you’ve just been trying. Made from scratch.
Queue the nausea. Maybe if I was one of those people who could walk away from thick, rich, creamy hot chocolate, I would have been ok. But no. I had to drink the majority of it and then feel sick! At least I wasn’t. That’s a bonus!!!
It’s ok though… the next job for me was to sit in the car taking photos of table mountain from the highway for the next hour!
You really do have to go and try out this fabulous place. Give it more time than we had though as there was so much we couldn’t see or try!!
And remember… that care package would be very much appreciated!!!