About an hour north of Cape Town, along the scenic West Coast Road, you will find a little doll-house looking village with the fitting name Darling. Set some 20 kilometers away from the coast, a midst rolling hills of olive groves, vineyards and flowering nature reserves, this is a gem where one can spend a perfectly slow day enjoying all things locally produced, organic and natural.
Start your day at the Marmalade Cat, where you can enjoy great coffee and the yummiest breakfast in town, all while letting your eyes feast on the delightful display of gifts, trinkets and collectibles available in the combined shop and tea room.
Next, make your way to one of the beautiful nature reserves close to town. The best time to visit is spring, when the wildflowers cover the ground with an impossible kaleidoscope of colours and shapes. Darling is located in the Cape Floral Kingdom, one of South Africa’s eight World Heritage Site containing some of the richest plant biodiversity in the world.
Head to Darling Olives for a lovely picnic lunch with home-baked bread, olive jams, olive marmalade, Labneh cheese, olives and olive paste . Their olive tasting is an amazing journey through the cultivation, selection, pressing and enjoying of olives, olive oil and other goodies like tapenades and chutneys.
With your taste-buds tantalised by the olives, continue to your next flavour adventure at Darling Cellars. Here, wine is produced in a unique and close-to-nature way: 95% of their vineyards are un-irrigated and grown on bush-vines (not trellised). The advantages of bush vine are plentiful, but the most important attribute for Darling Cellars is that a bush vine is quite hardened against drought. As the water resources in the area are very limited, the only choice is to plant bush vines. The natural ability of a bush vine to regulate its yield is of great importance in an area where one cannot irrigate. In a dry year, the bush vine will carry fewer bunches and in a wetter year, it’ll carry more bunches of grapes. This leads to great fruit concentration and a natural balance when the grapes are harvested.
This is South Africa, so a sundowner is compulsory! Catch it at Darling Brew’s Slow Quarters, where you can enjoy locally brewed, slow, artisan beer and light meals made with organic and free range ingredients. ‘Slow Beer’ is not only the name of their first beer, it is the philosophy, encompassing all of Darling Brew’s beers, highlighting their slow fermentation process and why people should choose it over mass produced beer. It also makes for a perfectly suitable sundowner conversation after a slow day in Darling: what does ‘slow’ mean to you?
If you are visiting on a weekend, be sure to book in advance and round the day off at Evita se Perron. South Africa’s most famous political satirist, Pieter-Dirk Uys’ hilarious character Evita Bezuidenhout – also known as Tannie Evita (auntie Evita), a white Afrikaner socialite and self-proclaimed political activist will have you hosing yourself throughout this dinner show. A traditionally South African menu is served in colourfully kitsch and eye-catchingly patriotic surroundings in an old railway station. Like the name of the town, the Evita experience is just ‘darling’.
Now catch a good night’s sleep in one of Darling’s many adorable guesthouses and gather some strength for another slow day in South Africa. If you have one more day to spend in the area, don’t miss !Khwa ttu – a San cultural centre where the San themselves will take you on a journey into their history, traditional knowledge, skills, languages, customs and current affairs. !Khwa ttu is based on the theme “A celebration of the San culture, present and past, for a better future”. Its mission statement includes as primary objectives to restore the heritage of the San, to educate the general public about the world of the San and to provide training to the San in various areas.