Darling suits its name perfectly. A pleasant hour’s drive from Cape Town up the West Coast and a little inland, this small, quaint, Swartland town is surrounded by rolling hills, farms, vineyards and beautiful fynbos. In spring, you can expect to be dazzled by the wildflowers and the rest of the year, by the vast array of things to see, places to visit and people to meet. Come for a day trip, or stay a week and enjoy the plethora of wonderful activities while catching your breath in the peace of this darling little town.
Darling Sweet is like something out of a children’s story book. Located in a beautiful old Edwardian building in one of the wide Darling side streets, Darling Sweet produce toffees using traditional ingredients – including the butter for which Darling is renowned – with no artificial colourants, flavourings or preservatives. The flavours are local too: Tannie Evita’s Classic, Honey and Salt, Sour Fig, Red Wine and Chocolate, Orange & Pomegranate, Liquorice, Bird’s Eye Chili and Ormonde Wine.
Visit the shop, see the ladies making the toffees, wrapping them and boxing them – all by hand – and head home with a delicious gift for friends and family. Just pack them out of reach in the car as their irresistibility may mean only the (biodegradable) wrappers are left when you reach home!
Experience everything olive at Darling Olives. Grown on the dryland of Alexanderfontein, these olives are filled with flavour and Roleen Basson and her team have developed a vast range of delicious olive products. These include olive oils, spreads and jams, and even olive chocolate.
Visit the beautiful farm and head to the old dairy building for a tasting – a fabulous, half-hour experience, which includes their own two wines (when in stock) for a mere R30 per person. You’ll walk away knowing a whole lot more about olives, and can buy all their tasty treats to take home.
Where: R315 (Yzerfontein Rd, 3km outside of Darling), Alexanderfontein Estate, Darling
When: Mon to Fri 9am to 4pm | Sat & Public Holidays 9am to 1pm | Sun, Good Friday, Christmas Day & Boxing Day closed
Contact: 022 492 3171 | firstname.lastname@example.org
With nine carefully brewed beers and a bunch of speciality and seasonal brews, this is any beer lover’s dream destination. Add to that a beautifully designed tasting room and a delicious, mostly locally-sourced menu, indoor and outdoor seating, and a fantastic jungle gym for the kids, and you’ve got a winner.
What we love most about Darling Brew, though, is that each beer is named in honour of an endangered creature, and a portion of profits are donated to various conservation programmes. The newest kid on the block – Blood Serpent – is the first carbon neutral beer in Africa. Carbon emissions produced during the brewing process are offset against their contributions to the Kariba Redd+ Project in Zimbabwe. This is great tasting beer, with a conscience.
Where: 48 Caledon St, Darling
When: Tue to Thu & Sat 9am to 5pm | Fri 10am to 9pm | Sun 10am to 4pm | Mon closed | Kitchen closes one hour before closing time
Contact: 021 286 1099 or 079 182 9001 | email@example.com
Perched up on the hill overlooking Darling sits the beautiful Ormonde, with its old manor surrounded by vineyards. A gorgeous, cool tasting room offers a wide range of award-winning wines produced under the Ormonde, Alexanderfontein and Ondine labels.
For something different – and utterly delectable – do a chocolate and wine pairing at R60 per person for a 1 hour, private presentation (booking advised). Taste five handmade, luxury chocolates paired with five carefully chosen wines and experience a taste sensation that’ll leave you astounded. The tastes and aromas defy description in their delight.
For those feeling the need to expend a bit of energy, a beautiful circular MTB route (26 km) winds its way on a single track from !Kwatthu through fields of wheat, herds of game and the hills of Ormonde. You’ll definitely deserve a chocolate and wine pairing after that.
Where: Mount Pleasant St, Darling
When: Mon to Fri 9am to 4pm | Sat & Public Holidays 9am to 3pm | Sun, Good Friday, Christmas Day & Boxing Day closed
Contact: 022 492 3540 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The long weekend at the end of April sees Darling putting in her best frock for ‘The Taste of Darling’. With music, performances, art, beer, food and wine, Darling comes alive. There’s the Darling Grand Parade on the Saturday, tastings of all the wonderful gourmet delights that this small town offers, and activities at various venues.
See Tannie Evita at Evita se Perron, browse the wonderful shops and galleries, enjoy a glass of wine or a cold beer, and snack on wonderful local delicacies at this festival of tastes. Book accommodation quickly, because you’ll want to stay for two days. At least!