Today we make food and are spoilt for choice when it comes to seasoning to give it that extra flavour, it seems hard to think even the most basic of items like salt and pepper used to be worth so much, even just a small quantity could be as much as months of rent for a small flat. Beside the monetary value, the effort to move and gather these spices from faraway lands were a feat in themselves, using wooden ships through storms, or on land with no tar roads or engine power makes this a marvellous story and leaves you wondering how food used to taste before we started putting these basics into everything.
Paarl was not exactly the base for the spice trade route, however it might be a good way to show how accessible it has become, with every person owning basic herbs and spices that are affordable and available in abundance in the shops. This place symbolises the exotic flavours of food and locally made items, rather than the history of the trade.
It is somewhere you can spend the day and indulge in food and drink without too much physical activity, that is unless you call sitting in a comfortable chair watching views of Paarl and surrounding area with a mountainous backdrop exercise. There are all sorts of restaurants specialising in burgers, pizza and local South African cuisine, places for tasters like the chocolate making factory, deli’s and drinks of many types often ending with a well-deserved ice cream. All the items are locally inspired as far as possible and bring out as much flavour as possible.
My mum and I decided to take a day outing to the spice route, though it was absolutely freezing, so we stayed far away from the ice-creams, but were welcomed with the first sign saying coffee. It was a good coffee, though what was very fascinating was a map on the wall showing where the coffee came from and what was made in that area, as a coffee lover I had never really thought about it too much. After doing a quick scan of the town and decided we were too cold and hungry we found a cosy fire at La Grapperia bistro and pizzeria, ordered a pizza to share and a glass of wine. This pizza was beautiful, vibrant and interesting, very different from the standard Hawaiian pizza I always order and enjoy.
Later, we took a tour around De Villiers Chocolate factory being taken through the process from how chocolate (cacao beans) starts off and how they end up as the chocolate we know. There were the normal flavours, some unusual flavour and then there were flavours I never knew existed like lime and ginger, cinnamon and chilli and orange peel and vanilla. There were many different ones to try, with many varieties for sale, which I surprised my friends and family back in the UK.
A lovely and simple day out for anyone looking to have a laid-back experience with plenty of good food and drink to enjoy.