The Spice Route in Paarl is one of those places I’ve heard about numerous times and never been to myself. At almost an hour’s drive from home, it’s quite an expedition with small kids, but made its way to the top of our places-to-go list this past weekend.

WOW – this is a place that really delivers! Visions of Durban spice markets came to mind, but we soon discovered this was an entirely different form of wonderland. Spice Route’s website explains the origins of their name: “Centuries ago, anyone with a desire to explore exotic flavours and experiences would have needed to wait for the seasonal return of the traders travelling the Spice Route.
Fortunately, these days a journey of discovery is right on your doorstep, with the modern-day Spice Route in Paarl – a sensory feast for today’s connoisseurs of craftsmanship and authenticity.”

So what is it exactly?

Spice Route is its own little village of buildings, beautifully surrounded by gardens, paths and magnificent wineland views. Brewery, gallery, artisanal chocolate and coffee, restaurants, crafts shops and more – a real “something for everyone” experience.

First up was Cape Brewing Company (CBC), much to the Husband’s delight. As one of his favourite craft beer brands, a CBC tasting was right up his alley. He wouldn’t oblige with tasting comments – “I was there to taste beer not write a review” – but seemed to enjoy old favourites and new variants. A cute kids table with colouring and Lego meant that I was was free to take photos. A great family stop!

Next door is a “beer garden” that we didn’t stop at – beautiful veranda serving CBC brews of course, but unusually with the option of biltong tasting as well – hence their name Barley & Biltong – or gourmet burgers.

The very next building was a highlight for all 4 of us – artisanal chocolate brand DV Chocolate. We chose their R25 self-guided tasting, sampling around 10-15 chocolates and a fudge. Deliciously smooth chocolate, with interesting flavours like orange peel & vanilla, peppermint & roasted macadamia, and coffee & cardamom. They also offer what seemed like a more structured tasting experience of their single varietal chocolates, but that sounded a little less toddler-friendly.

Then it was on to the homemade ice cream stand and DV cafe for a great cup of coffee – a chance for the kids to let off steam at the awesome play area. There’s a pizzeria next to the play area – looks like a fab family lunch spot.

While the Husband looked after the kids st the play area, I took a peek inside the decidedly un-toddler-freindly Red Hot Glass store. Hand blown glass, and specifically glass pendants, are serious eye-candy for me – I love looking for how light reflects through the glass. Loved this spot! And left with a pretty pendant to add to my collection.

One last look around – bought some amazing salami from Richard Bosman Cured Meats, and spotted Bertus Basson’s welcoming restaurant – and it was time to head home. An fantastic morning, we will definitely be back – and not just because the Husband will want more reduced-price CBC brews!