Travel and a bit of shopping
First published on http://www.westcoastway.co.za
First impressions count, so they say. You encounter a person, or let’s say a building or a business, for the first time and you form a mental image; it sets the tone for what you think and feel about them.
As you drive down the leafy street that houses Darling Sweet an elegant Edwardian building catches your eye. Even before you realise this is where you are heading, or should be heading, if truth be said.
I caught myself humming ‘Sweets for my sweet, sugar for my honey’ even before I had set foot inside.
Once over the threshold – a lovely Oriental carpet on a wooden floor, a vintage tricycle in one corner and a faded black and white photograph of a happy toddler on the same tricycle – a barefoot lady with a disarming smile greeted me. She was enthusiastic about the products, the shop, the people who worked with her, about life itself … we chatted as if we’ve known each other for years.
Yet I’m afraid I might have been slightly rude as my head swivelled to look at floor-to-ceiling cabinets – could they have belonged to the general dealer that once had his business on the same premises, I wondered – filled with bright purple, yellow, orangey red, turquoise and green labelled boxes, neatly lined up.
I could smell the flavours -, Honey & Salt, Sour Fig, Red Wine & Chocolate, Orange & Pomegranate, Liquorice, Bird’s Eye Chili and Ormonde Wines toffee – before I’d even tasted them. On one label I read ‘Tannie Evita’s Classic’. I bet you that’s a best seller, I thought.
Unlike the song it was not a ‘first sweet kiss that thrilled me so’ – it was tasting the toffee spreads. They come in three flavours: Tannie Evita’s Classic, Bird’s Eye Chili, and Honey & Salt toffee spread, and they complement the range of toffees.
On the shop window – the premises also house the factory that employs 15 full-time and 11 part-time staff members – the following invitation in gold lettering greets you: ‘Vat jou tyd’. It means ‘take your time’ and for good measure it has been printed – in English this time – on T-shirts available inside.
It’s hard not to take your time as everyone who works here is so friendly, there is so much to taste and you don’t want to leave the former Darling General Dealers building because the atmosphere and the owners and the staff exude kindness and old-style values.
Long-forgotten toffee recipes were unearthed and are in use today to make their old-fashioned hand-crafted toffees using traditional methods and with no artificial colourants, flavorants or preservatives. This makes Darling Sweet toffees quality-driven, not to mention unique and, dare I say, thoroughly charming.
No wonder then that recent visitors have exclaimed: ‘Heavenly!’, ‘Oh my Darling!’, ‘Yum!’, ‘Sweet’, and ‘What a gem’.
Apart from toffees Darling Sweet also sells under their label locally sourced raw veld flower honey and fleur du sel. Both of these have become staples in my kitchen since my visit.
First impressions are lasting impressions, I now know. Darling Sweet, now that we have met – come on, sing along with me – I will never ever let you go.
Darling Sweet, 7 Long Street, Darling
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 8h00 – 17h00, Sundays and Public Holidays 10h00 – 14h00
Read more about the success story of Frits van Ryneveld and Hentie van der Merwe and try out some of their recipes such as toffee-glazed gammon with roasted clemengolds or decadent caramel-glazed poached pear bread and butter pudding: www.darlingsweet.co.za