Arts and Culture

Darling buds in brand mayhem

Hilary Prendini Toffoli

West Coast artisans are locking horns over who has the right to use the Darling name on their many varied but entirely splendid wares.

What's in a name? Kevin Wood will not be changing the name of his craft beers despite the owner of Darling Dairy claiming to have registered Darling as a brand name. (David Harrison)

In spite of the fact that Nico Basson, the owner of Darling Dairy on the West Coast, claims to have registered Darling as a brand name and — as Noseweek reported recently — has told the town’s producers of food and drink he has the exclusive rights to it, the eponymous label will feature prominently at Darling’s new monthly Groote Post Country Market, which launches on Sunday August 31. 

“It’s my constitutional right to use that name,” says Darling Brew’s Kevin Wood, whose honey-tinged Native ales, floral wheat beers and hardcore black ales are sold all over South Africa, and now rate among the country’s most popular craft beers.  

“The brand registration website categorically states that no one may register a geographical indicator as their own,” he says, “plus it would be detrimental to economic growth in the Swartland area to stop new traders using the name.”    

In fact, a brand-new Darling toffee is launching at the market, and producers Frits van Ryneveld and Hentie van der Merwe have coolly put Darling on their pretty new label. “Why not?” asks Van Ryneveld, who is making the soft toffee in the tiny Mantis Mall shopping centre, a block away from Pieter-Dirk Uys’s Evita se Perron.  

“It’s made from Darling ingredients in the heart of Darling, where people can see us doing it the old-fashioned way — manually. We do delicious flavours like sour fig, and salt and honey, and it’s something sweet for visitors to take away when they come for the flowers and the Voorkamerfest in September.”  

They had no problems registering the trademark, and they haven’t heard from Nico Basson.

One producer who is taking the name Darling off her products is Antoinette Versveld. But she’s not doing so because of Basson, who she once taught at the local school. “I want my pomegranate products 
to have a really South African-sounding name. So my new label will be Netgranaat.” 

She and her husband grow the pomegranates on their farm next to Groote Post, and over the past three years have diversified from pomegranate juice to a range of delicious bonbons.  

They include South Africa’s first pomegranate nougat — soft and chewy — and pomegranate Turkish delight, as well as a crunchy health snack — dried apple with a pomegranate reduction and ground seeds. They also do chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds, and pretty pink macaroons filled with white Lindt chocolate and a pomegranate reduction. They’ll all be at the market.

So will Darling Gourmet Mushrooms. Kotie van Tonder and 
her daughter Ida cultivate pink and white oyster mushrooms on their farm outside Darling, and sell grilled mushroom kebabs as well 
as fresh mixed punnets of shiitake, portobellini and oyster mushrooms, at markets such as the Palms in Woodstock.

The artisanal cheeses, made at home by Darling cheesemaker Carla Bryan, are so good she can barely keep up with the demand. They’re on the cheeseboards of Le Quartier Francais, the Cape Grace and Ellerman House.  

Star performers at the market will be her caciotta, a soft, creamy Italian cheese, and her South African skattie, a washed curd like a gouda, with a slight cheddar bite. She also does mascarpone.  

Versatile self-taught charcutier Gil Ferreira from nearby Yzerfontein will be at the market too, with his cured meats such as coppa and prosciutto, a large variety of salamis and fresh sausages as well as terrines, preserves and the new must-have relish, bacon jam.  

Unlike mass-produced bacon — pumped full of liquid brine and sprayed with liquid smoke — his bacon takes time and real wood smoke to make. “We only use free-range pigs,” he says, “because we only make products we would eat ourselves!”

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