Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bottega Family launches their new Idiom tasting and dining venue at Da Capo, Helderberg

We have known the Bottega family for a long while, We used to sell both their Whalehaven and Idiom wines in our shop, Main Ingredient, and got to know them then as they have a house in Fresnaye and Mrs Valerie Bottega is a keen cook. Last week, we were invited to join other members of the media to see the impressive new mountain venue high up on the slopes of Sir Lowry’s Pass
The Entrance to the new building
On arrival, we were directed to the summer pavilion under the pine trees, where welcome drinks awaited us
Fig and rose geranium cordial
or glasses of Italian Giusti Brut Prosecco
Mr Alberto Bottega welcomed us to Da Capo vineyards. The Bottega Family own Da Capo Vineyards in Sir Lowry's Pass (Wine of Origin Stellenbosch, but they are actually on the far side of Somerset West!) where Idiom wines is situated, and Whalehaven Winery in Hermanus. The road to the venue winds up and up fairly steep mountain roads through countryside, farmland and vineyards until you get to the top. The railway line to Elgin and beyond snakes up the pass just below the farm
The views in every direction are superb. Adamastor sleeps
It was a rather misty day, but you could still see Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak in the distance
We then walked to the lookout deck, where weddings can be held
A quiet sheltered place to have a picnic from the planned deli under the lapa
The Helderberg (Clear mountain)
The tasting room
The new restaurant interior
We learn more about the centre
Local mountain stone was used to build the lower Roman style arches with a modern tower, the top is all modern steel and glass and traditional woodwork
Sculptures by artist Lionel Smit are in many spots around the venue
More stunning vignettes
Architect Thomas Leach explains his vision and his brief
Alberto Bottega's son, Roberto Bottega, promotes the wine portfolio globally and has championed the development of the Idiom Tasting Room & Restaurant with his father
Full view of the centre with a proud Alberto Bottega
Canapés of duck liver paté
Cream cheese, sundried tomato on cheese shortbread
Smoked salmon with salmon caviar
A table laid to illustrate a possible wedding arrangement
And another. They also have a large conference area below the restaurant
Time for lunch - The menu
We take our seats. It is quite a noisy echoing room for conversation with the concrete floor and open rafters. They need to add fabrics and insulation to soften the sound
Wine is poured and the speeches start
At its helm is a 5 star team who have joined from various luxury properties. Hamish Hofmeyr, working closely with the owner Alberto Bottega, son Roberto and daughter Silvana, leads the new venue as General Manager after an eight year stint as GM of The Marine in Hermanus, where he managed two restaurants and the Relais & Châteaux boutique hotel
The amuse bouche arrives
Three crisp panko and spice encrusted prawns on a scrape of avocado purée with dragon fruit squares and a dot or two of light wasabi aioli. It was paired with the rather woody Idiom Viognier, which begins with lovely peach notes
The starter was a little controversial. Not everyone is willing to eat a tartare. This was a chunky Impala tartare, topped with a quail egg yolk. It was on top of a slice of Kudu Carpaccio and under the bed of rocket nested a small sliver of seared warthog. There was also some chestnut  purée on the plate. Served with the Idiom Sangiovese, full of wild berry fruits, plums and rhubarb; an excellent pairing
Huge beams support the ceiling, all joined by accurately cut mortise and tenon joints secured with wooden pegs. Not a nail in sight
Daughter Silvana is the Creative Director and is working on sensory experiences at the venue and the art, sculptures and with perfumer Tammy Fraser developed a Perfume du Vin
Main course was a large portion of beef fillet on smoked mushrooms, fondant potatoes, carrots and a Cabernet jus. This was paired with their Classic Cape Blend
Chef Irwin de Vries has worked at Morukuru’s Athol Place in Johannesburg and Sir Richard Branson’s Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in the Sabi Sand Reserve
Dessert was another small challenge, being a Rooibos Tea Panna cotta served with a peach compote and set on an almond sponge. Rooibos is another of those flavours like fresh coriander that challenge the taste buds of almost half of the population. This was served with a small glass of Imperium White Gold, their limited edition Viognier Natural sweet wine
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

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