Travel, whether local or international is, for me, based on making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident – Serendipity. I think it’s always too easy (and often then disappointing) to set forth to see something or do something which we might assume will give the definitive experience of a place or time . Often there is no overall defining experience, but a lot of happenings within an itinerary that go towards making up the whole, and it’s then up to you how you interpret the adventure in retrospect.
We set off for a drive. Nothing more, nothing less and almost let the car decide. We ended up, after a morning of sensory experiences having a taste sensation at Carlaminda Wines’ rustic ‘Bistro’ that serves French Country Cuisine.
The farm is set in the heart of the beautiful Ferguson Valley, on Richards Road, and it’s owned and run by Quirinus Olsthoom (who’s Dutch) and Anita Olsthoom (who’s French). Alpaccas and Llamas roam the pastures beside the bistro and winery, the views are sweeping and pastoral, while the Bistro itself is full of rustic charm. Set amongst the trees it’s built around a large tree trunk which juts through the roof, the floorboards are wooden, there’s an old family display cabinet at one end, and French art deco pictures line the walls.
Carlaminda means ‘land of fire and water’, which seems appropriate to the south west region with its Mediterranean climate, summer bush fires and wet winters.
Quirinus and Anita produce a limited amount of wine and my favourite has to be the Nebbiolo (2008) which is made from unirrigated vines, concentrating the flavours in the fruit. Nebbiolo is apparently considered to be one of the world’s great wine varieties and originates from the foot of the Alps. The description says it’s, ‘full of fresh red fruit, violet, a tint of liquorice and chewy tannins deliver on both the nose and palate.’
Smells of garlic and orange sauce wafted from the kitchen as a prelude to our food order. We had Escargots a l’Alsacienne with garlic, parsley and shallot butter sauce. A warm tartlet with honey roasted tomatoes and goat cheese with rosemary and a small mixed salad and walnuts. And a Duck comfit with orange sauce and potato and turnip puree.
Open for three years and definitely run as a family affair, you can expect good food in unpretentious surroundings at Carlaminda, along with some excellent wines. A tasty home-baked olive bread/cake is served with each wine tasting, which sets it apart from many other cellar door experiences.
Yes, Carlaminda was a serendipitous find on a day when we had expected no more than a pleasant drive in the country.