I ♥ Darling Because…

This Q&A article was first published on the SA-Venues blog: http://blog.sa-venues.com/provinces/western-cape/love-darling

 

Hi, I’m Paul Martin from Aloe Cottage in Darling.

Darling IS BEST KNOWN FOR its won­der­fully diverse spring flowers, the Voorkamerfest Theatre and Arts FestivalEvita se Perron (the home of Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout), great wine farms, art gal­ler­ies, country-style res­taur­ants and bis­tros, the Duckitt orchid nurs­ery, the friendly small-town atmo­sphere and relaxed coun­try life.
GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AT Evita se Perron where you can pose as “the most fam­ous white woman in South Africa” and take a humor­ous trip down South Africa’s memory lane at Boerassic Park.
THE BEST spring flower PICTURES CAN BE TAKEN AT the Tinie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve, Waylands Flower Reserve or at the orchid open days at Duckitt Nurseries on the first Saturday of the month from May to November.
OTHER HAPPY SNAPS CAN BE TAKEN while sip­ping wine at some of the local wine farms like Ormonde, CloofDarling CellarsGroote Post and Tukulu.

WHEN THE WEATHER’S GOOD, I LIKE TO cycle around the vil­lage and farm­lands with my cam­era. The Nguni cattle at Oude Post Farm are par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful with their speckled hides and long horns.
WHEN THE WEATHER’S BAD, I LIKE TO browse the amaz­ing selec­tion of books at Book League.
I THINK THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT IS any time of the year, BECAUSE sum­mer offers trips to nearby Yzerfontein beach and long warm even­ings around the braai. The Darling Music Experience clas­sical fest­ival takes place in February. Autumn is ideal for wine tast­ing while the vine­yards turn to orange and gold. Winter brings misty morn­ing walks, and cosy nights with good food and wine. Spring brings the annual Darling Wildflower Show, Voorkamerfest, Rocking the Daisies music fest­ival and so much more …

MY FAVOURITE BREAKFAST SPOT IS Chicory Cheese Café or Brig’s Barn.

FOR LUNCH, I SUGGEST The Marmalade Cat.
MY FAVOURITE RESTAURANT IS Bistro Seven, TRY THE Eisbein.
BEST LATE NIGHT SNACK FROM Café Mosaic, known by the loc­als as ‘The Stoep’.
MY FAVOURITE bar­gain hunt­ing SPOT IS The Mantis Trading Store.
FOR A NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN TRY Kraalbosdam on a Friday night.
IF YOU WANT TO MEET LOCALS, GO TO the Darling Country Market on the first Saturday morn­ing of the month at the Nitrophoska Building.

Darling’s BEST KEPT SECRET IS the local butchery, Darling Vleismark, per­fect for stock­ing up before return­ing to the city. And don’t miss the cheap homemade jams at the till!
MY FAVOURITE THING TO DO WITH FRIENDS IS enjoy the local beer, Darling Brew, avail­able at most res­taur­ants in Darling.

FOR SOME CULTURE , I LIKE TO GO TO the Voorkamerfest in September, where per­formers from South Africa and around the world give intim­ate per­form­ances in the ‘voork­amers’ (lounges) of houses in Darling. It is not to be missed.

TO RELAX AND RESTORE MY SOUL, I LIKE TO enjoy the beau­ti­ful sur­round­ings.
IF YOU’RE FEELING ADVENTUROUS, TRY mak­ing your own wine at the annual Darling Cellars Crush Day.
MY FAVOURITE WALK IS with my dogs at the Renosterveld Reserve at the top of the hill, where you have pan­or­amic views of the vil­lage and sur­round­ing farm­lands.
MY FAVOURITE gift and home­ware SHOP IS is the beau­ti­ful ware­house at the back of The Marmalade Cat.

MY FAVOURITE bird WATCHING SPOT IS from the kit­chen win­dow at Aloe Cottage, where the weaver birds put on a fant­astic dis­play build­ing their nests and show­ing off their dexterity.

IF YOU’RE HERE IN July, JOIN IN THE FUN AT Christmas in July at Evita se Perron.

MY FAVOURITE MUSEUM IS Darling Museum. Discover how Darling got its name and don’t miss the little shop; Ouma’s Treasures.
MY FAVOURITE BUILDING IS Koekemakranka Backpackers, FOR ITS cre­at­ive and whacky interior, cre­ated by local artist and co-owner Omnia Grobler.

TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN? A FUN OUTING IS Lelieblom Farm Restaurant where the kids can see and touch farm anim­als. Enjoy a lazy week­end lunch where you dine with your hosts and enjoy true coun­try hospitality.

BEST CHEAP AND CHEERFUL OUTING IS tak­ing a leis­urely drive around the coun­tryside.
WHEN MONEY’S NO OBJECT, I LIKE TO go wine tast­ing, stock up my cel­lar with excel­lent local wines, then enjoy a cel­eb­rat­ory meal at Hilda’s Kitchen at Groote Post.

THE MOST UNUSUAL THING I SEE HERE IS the dif­fer­ence that one per­son, Pieter-Dirk Uys, has made to a com­munity by put­ting Darling on the map and giv­ing so much to sup­port devel­op­ment pro­jects in the area.
MY FAVOURITE WEEKEND GETAWAY IS Aloe Cottage, of course!
WHEN I WANT TO GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY, I sup­port The Darling Trust.

I ♥ Darling BECAUSE the people are friendly and wel­com­ing, the vil­lage is authen­tic and not overly touristy, and it’s an hour from Cape Town… but a world away!

Aloe Cottage

Aloe Cottage offers lux­ury self-catering hol­i­day accom­mod­a­tion in Darling, near to Cape Town, South Africa. We are pet-friendly! The hol­i­day home has been beau­ti­fully dec­or­ated with top qual­ity linen, fur­niture and art­work and enjoys pos­sibly the best views in Darling — over rolling hills and farm­lands to the dis­tant moun­tains. Aloe Cottage is the per­fect romantic get­away for couples as well as for week­ends away with friends or fam­ily holidays.

Visit Aloe Cottage
View Rates or make a Booking

Desirable Digits

Chicory Cheese — +27 (0)72 852‑6644
Brig’s Barn — +27 (0)22 492‑2451
The Marmalade Cat — +27 (0)22 492‑2515
Bistro Seven — +27 (0)22 492‑3626
Café Mosaic — +27 (0)22 492‑2307
Kraalbosdam — +27 (0)22 492‑3803
Lelieblom Farmhouse — +27 (0)82 573‑7736

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Dining in Darling – The spring flowers may bring visitors to Darling, but it’s the food that will make them stay

Stopping to smell the flowers: The spring flowers may bring visitors to Darling, but it's the food that will make them stay.

Dining in Darling

By: KATHARINE JACOBS: EAT OUT Aug 24 2011 10:01

The weather forecast looks a little ominous as I pack my bags for Darling. Rough seas, high winds and heavy rainfall are on their way, and one blog promises winds just short of a hurricane. “Should I bring my slippers, or my huge granny jersey?” my friend, Kerry, who’s coming along, asks. “Both,” I tell her, surveying my own collection of granny jerseys.

72 kilometres up the West Coast from Cape Town, Darling is perhaps best known for its spring flowers. Thousands flock there in September for flower season, when the farmland around this tiny village becomes a carpet of yellow daisies, arum lilies, and shiny fuchsia mesems. The season is about to kick off on September 2 with the Darling Voorkamerfest, when musicians, dancers and actors take over 21 local homes, and local taxis ferry viewers between performances.

It’s already dark when we arrive in Darling, and, after dropping off our bags at the eminently quirky Koekemakranka Backpackers (mosaics in the bathroom; bathtub in the garden), we take refuge in cosy pizzeria, Tesoretto. Opened just three months ago, this main street establishment proudly proclaims itself the smallest restaurant in Darling. Sure enough, its pizza oven takes up roughly one quarter of the restaurant. We squeeze in behind the door, alongside the happily snoozing and somewhat tubby cat, Tess, and order a fabulously cheesy mushroom bake to start (R22.50).

The restaurant has no liquor license, but a quick trip across the road to the Darling Hotel Drankwinkel for a bottle of Darling Cellars Pinotage averts disaster, and we tuck into rich macaroni cheese, served with tasty pizza bread (R35.50) and wood-fired pizza, (the Sombrero) with Mexican mince and avo (R60). It’s not haute cuisine, but it certainly hits the spot on this chilly night.

The spring is sprung
The next morning, we’re woken by a cock crowing, and not gale-force wind and pouring rain, but something even more surprising: sunshine. The sky is perfectly blue, and the flowers are just beginning to open in the lush fields along the road.

Happily shedding woolly jerseys, we head to The Marmalade Cat in search of breakfast. The eponymous Marmalade is not in attendance, but there is a giant statue of her outside, and several knitted, sculpted and painted versions inside the attractive restaurant. The pancakes with scrambled egg, smoked salmon and cream cheese (R40) are perfect.

Artisan cheese-maker Carla Bryan also sells her Udderly Delicious range of cheeses here. In a real community industry, Carla makes her cheeses in her own home, relying on her neighbour to pick up sixty litres of milk from the farmers each evening, and passing on the whey leftovers to the locals who feed it to their pigs. “I can only make three cheeses a day, so I can’t really supply the big centres. I tell people, ‘Come to Darling!'” Carla explains, as I nibble some of her wares.

Nominated for an Eat In Award by blogger Dax Villaneuva, they’re worth the trip. Her caciotta is creamy and smooth when only matured for a couple of weeks, and becomes nutty and rich after six weeks or more. There’s also delicious salami on offer, made by local Jeep mechanic and Carla’s boyfriend, Russell Kent.

While we’re here, we also manage to meet up with Phillippa Wood of Darling Brew. Along with husband Kevin, she’s currently producing three artisan beers — a normal lager, a native ale, and a wheat beer brewed with coriander and citrus.

The couple began their adventure after Kevin quit his job and they decided to travel Africa for 10 months and come up with a new business plan.

After travelling for just three days, they met artisan brewer Andre Cilliers in Nieu Bethesda, and bought his recipes. Phillippa asked her husband, “Isn’t it a little early to have found our idea?” Evidently, it wasn’t: they are currently working hard to set up a tasting room on Darling’s main road, which will showcase their beers alongside tasting platters of local cheeses and other snack plates.

Visiting Tannie
When we finally emerge from the Marmalade Cat — straight into a full marching band — we make a bee-line for Evita se Perron. Home to Pieter Dirk Uys’s hilarious shows, the restaurant is better known for its entertainment than its food, but locals rave about the bobotie, melkterts and koeksusters baked by local tannies, rumoured to be worth the calories.

The show is booked out for the day, so we head to Bistro Seven to pick up some lunch. Run by Kit and René Haslam, this pleasant restaurant and sports bar has been running for nine years, but also recently opened up a coffee bar. Somehow we are distracted by a towering red velvet cake, and a chocolate tart that looks like it’s composed of solid chocolate. Since the weather is so beautiful, we order slices for the road.

As we leave Darling, we stop off at the Tienie Versveld reserve, and sit in the sun amongst the flowers to eat the spectacular red velvet cake.

“We should have bought spoons,” says Kerry, pointing to the gooey and delicious chocolate tart. “Yes,” I say. “And fewer jerseys.”

Where to eat in Darling 

For breakfast and lunch:

Evita se Perron: Book ahead, catch a show. And order the bobotie.

For breakfast, lunch and dinner:


Trinity Lodge
: Booking is essential at this guesthouse. Minimum ten people.

Marmalade Cat:
 Open for breakfast and lunch, they also fire up the pizza oven on Friday nights.

For lunch and dinner: 

Bistro Seven: Fabulous meat and a good option for dinner, or lunch, sitting outside under the umbrellas.

Hilda’s Kitchen at Groote Post
: Easy-going country fare at this wine estate restaurant.

Lelieblom: Book ahead and enjoy a real country meal made in the farm kitchen.

For dinner:

Tesoretto: Darling’s smallest restaurant, this is a good option for an affordable dinner.


Go to www.eatout.co.za for more restaurant listings and reviews.


It’s not too late to be part of the 2011 Voorkamerfest in Darling!

The time is drawing near for the annual Voorkamerfest in Darling. Now in its eighth year, the Voorkamerfest once again offers a unique, multi-cultural experience in an exciting and unconventional format. 
Although most accommodation is already booked and Voorkamerfest tickets sold, here is an opportunity to be part of this unique Darling experience. Fine-a-Leigh Tours, in collaboration with Koekemakranka Backpackers, are offering package weekend/day trips…
Tour brochures are available on request and contain detailed information of what we have put together, as well as the costs thereof. There is a choice of:
Weekend Trip: 02 Sept to 04 Sept 2011 – ZAR 1550 per person
Day Trip:  3 Sept 2011 – ZAR 700 per person

All Fine-A-Leigh tour packages are inclusive of transport, meals, accommodation and entrance fees… all you need to budget for over and above the tour cost is drinks, art/crafts and souvenir purchases. We have decided to structure all our tour packages in this way for ease of budgeting on the part of our clients. Very often one may find that a planned trip constitutes unforseen additional expenses which one only suffers the consequences of after the trip. Having said that, we are sure that you will agree our tour costs are really VERY AFFORDABLE.
The Voorkamerfest is an annual event for all ages and is such a big hit that tickets sell out every year very shortly after they go on sale, so we are confident that you will enjoy the experience, should you decide to make a booking.

Tour Booking and Enquiries
:
Deidre Prout
Tel:  +27 21 531 5760
Mobile:  +27 72 104 3563

General Voorkamerfest Bookings and Enquiries:

Tasha St John-Reid
Voorkamerfest Coordinator and Bookings
082 321 7542 or 022 492 3427
bookings@voorkamerfest-darling.co.za
www.voorkamerfest-darling.co.za