Contemporary Dining at Idiom

With two years trading under its belt, the Idiom Restaurant & Tasting Centre has fast become a must-visit destination for those seeking a vineyard setting with 180 degree panoramic views of both sea and mountain with spectacular cuisine and a wide range of top wines to match.

Situated near Sir Lowry’s Pass, Idiom is one of the southern-most vineyards in the Stellenbosch appellation with a positioning on the upper slopes of the Helderberg Basin. The elevated vantage point offers a unique coastal perspective of the full profile of the Cape Peninsula across False Bay whilst having the green, windswept vineyards and rugged, fynbos-covered mountainside as a backdrop to this unique Cape Winelands’ destination.

The restaurant space acts as a space from where the beautiful landscape can be observed in its different moods. The interior design is reserved in its almost Scandinavian simplicity, offering a calming, sheltered place to taste Idiom’s superb range of wines and enjoy a leisurely afternoon with friends and family. The dining experience continues to ensure that clients get a wonderful balance of flavours, with visual presentation showcasing the impeccable technique and the young talent being developed in the kitchen.

“Our focus is on contemporary cuisine bringing to life a fusion of our family’s Italian heritage as well as modern flavours and textures of the­ Cape. We have seventeen different grapes varieties from all over the world planted at Idiom, giving us plenty of scope for inspiration”, notes Roberto Bottega, who has headed up the project of developing the signature Idiom Tasting Centre. “Over the last two years, we have been working to establish the identity and desired direction of our Restaurant and Tasting Centre. Our main trading window is lunch, to take advantage of the views. Our primary goal is to create a top class food offering to match the scenery and complement and showcase our Idiom wines. We offer a Contemporary Dining experience, which is a 2- and 3-course seasonal menu, with a recommended wine pairing for each dish. We want customers to have a memorable visit to Idiom.”

“Each Idiom wine has its own unique character and flavour profile and we actively try and express those characters in the culinary offering, often using the colour spectrum as a guide,” adds Bottega. “Our current team in the kitchen, under the leadership of Calum Anderson, has a good understanding of this concept. The cured trout starter paired with Idiom Viognier and the lamb ragu paccheri paired with Idiom Zinfandel are two of my current favourites on our chef’s new menu.”

Guests can also request older vintages from Idiom’s library and enjoy wines at close to cellar door prices – an added benefit compared to dining at other top end establishments.

The owners

The Idiom project is run by the Bottega Family. Family patriarch, Alberto, was born in Italy and immigrated to the Cape in the 1950s. After a successful career upcountry in computer programming, banking and finance, he returned to Cape Town to retire to the Cape Winelands. In 1999 the first vines were planted from scratch on his Da Capo Vineyards farm and the first commercial vintage of Idiom was made in 2004.

Alberto’ son, Roberto, joined Idiom after 12 years of trading financial markets in London and Johannesburg. He has spearheaded the development of the Tasting Centre and manages global sales for Bottega Family Wines. He has developed a passion for Italian wines and is also the co-founder of a specialist wine import and distribution project called Vinotria, which he manages together with Pedro Estrada Belli. Vinotria’s portfolio includes wines from internationally acclaimed wineries such as Donnafugata in Sicily, Ornellaia in Tuscany, and Livio Felluga in Friuli, to name a few.

The Chef

Calum Anderson is an established head chef with 17 years’ experience of working in top-end restaurants, hotels and game lodges in South Africa, England and Australia. He has worked at leading hotels including The Cape Grace and Singita. During his career he has worked under some extremely gifted chefs including Gareth Collins, Giles Thompson, Chris Galvin, Peter Gordan, Bruce Robertson, Charles Le Febvre and Reuben Riffel. As a chef, Anderson has cooked for celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, the British royal family, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, Sheikha Al Mayassa of Qatar, Brad Pitt, Andrea Bocelli, Michel Roux Snr, Fran Drescher and William Shatner.

Anderson’s food philosophy is to ensure the integrity of the elements is upheld, that dishes are full of flavour, interesting and unusual.

“Visually, dishes should be natural and beautiful to the eye but not overly complicated as I believe this is my expression of how I see and feel about food.”

He is assisted at Idiom by talented sous chefs Donovan Christian and Bronwyn Solomon, who also heads up the pastry section.

Explore Italy at Idiom

Besides the contemporary dining offering at Idiom, there are other simpler Italian-inspired options to enjoy. Antipasto platters, with a selection of freshly sliced Italian cold meats such as prosciutto and salami, as well as cheese boards, with Italian and local soft and hard cheeses, are popular choices. The regional Italian pizza menu combines light thin crust bases with carefully chosen toppings using ingredients that transmit the tastes of the different regions of Italy.

“The regional pizzas are the first step to creating a dedicated Italian food offering, which in time, may require its own separate space,” says Bottega. “Regional Italian pastas are also being added to complement the pizzas. We are planning a rotating regional Italian degustation menu in order to showcase the fantastic regional wines we import with appropriate food. Italian wines are designed for food, and we hope to have this concept ready for the end of the year.”

Idiom is one of the leading producers of Italian varietal wines in South Africa, so it makes perfect sense for us to expand and take ownership of the Italian wine space in the country,” continues Bottega. “Visitors can taste Idiom’s locally produced Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Primitivo (Zinfandel) wines at the wine bar or in the restaurant. We supply a number of leading Italian restaurants with both our locally made Idiom and imported Vinotria portfolio of Italian wines. Having access to the imported wines as reference points has been very important. Firstly, we have learnt a tremendous amount about the wines of Italy, and it has allowed us to monitor the progress, quality and style of the Italian varietal wines we produce locally, and to better understand the potential of our Cape terroir,” adds Bottega.

Did you know?

Idiom – currently the VIP Winelands Lunch Choice of local operator, Cape Town Helicopters – is now accessible by helicopter for those who want to take a spectacular trip to the Cape Winelands along the coast. The 4-hour VIP aerial adventure and Winelands Culinary experience departs from the Waterfront and takes in parts of the Cape Peninsula before arriving at Idiom.

http://idiom.co.za/

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Staycation – Ways to be a tourist in your own town

Feeling like you never get to go away on a special holiday? You don’t need to travel far to do some sightseeing, relax, and get an exhilarating feel of adventure. Here’s how to be a tourist in your hometown and see your city with new eyes:

Show foreigners around

Take foreigners around your area – be it friends from another part of the country, family or an exchange student from Finland. Think of places that are usually branded as “too touristy” and try to enjoy the experience just as much as your guests do.

Take a bus tour

Do you know the history behind the buildings seen in your hometown? Do you understand how and why your city was founded?

Take a bus tour that is usually meant for tourists to gain some local history knowledge. Engage yourself with the tourists on the bus to see what they find interesting – you might be fascinated about a few things you forgot your city has to offer. City Sightseeing‘s hop-on hop-off bus includes all major Cape Town, Jo’burg and Soweto tourist attractions.

Stay in a hotel or guesthouse

To set yourself in a mood for exploring and travelling, book into your town’s favourite hotel or guesthouse. Jo’burgers can indulge in a staycation at the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa, which should tick all the boxes. (See our recent post about their bubbly bar here). Being away from home for the evening will add to the touristy feeling you’re after.

The Fairlawns Treehouse Studio

Schedule time for those “one day” places

We all have places that we pass regularly in our town or city that we plan on visiting one day. It will never happen if you don’t actually decide on a date to go. While busy, look at recommendations and tourist brochures of activities in your area and create a schedule of the things you want to do.

Go on a taste adventure at the most touristy restaurant in town

Go to the most touristy restaurant in town and eat the meals they specialise in. Look at coffee shops and restaurants you usually don’t go to and try various cuisines. Stepping out of your comfort zone when it comes to restaurants, is exhilarating and refreshing. If staying in Pretoria, why not visit the Monument Restaurant and experience authentic Afrikaner food.

Cheer on a local sports team

To get a feel for the spirit in your city, go to a stadium near you and watch a sports game with passionate locals and tourists.

Do something that only your city can offer

Most towns and cities are well known for an outdoor adventure like no other. Go out and explore your town’s most fun activity. If you’re from Cape Town, head to Table Mountain and experience the Aerial Cableway.

Glide into vacation-mode

When leaving the office for your staycation, leave all your worries behind and settle in for your well-deserved holiday. Put on some music, open a bottle of wine, relax and get ready for your holiday at home.

Written by: Katrien Nel

Images: Supplied

Festive Feasting with Stellenbosch’s Street Soirees

Toast with the locals when the ever-popular Stellenbosch Street Soirees return to the streets of the City of Oaks. Festive feasting and laid back mingling with fellow food and wine lovers is what you can look forward to this summer.

Presented by the Stellenbosch Wine Routes, the first soiree of the season will take place on 28 November. Stellies will share its vibrant street culture, enviable lifestyle and cosmopolitan charm – all blended with cool tunes, sizzling street food and superb wines.

The Stellenbosch Street Soirees take place once a month on a #WineWednesday and all the traffic-stopping entertainment goes down in the centrally located Drostdy Street. It’s there where cars make way for young and old to savour unique dishes by prominent eateries and food vendors, while wine farms offer delicious vintages to wash away those mid-week blues.

“Who does not like a good street party and it is a great way to get to know your neighbours. With the Stellenbosch Wine Routes one is always in good company, so why not come and unwind with us after work?” shares Elmarie Rabe, Manager of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes.

Each Stellenbosch Street Soiree features a different selection of cellars and street fare caterers with an entry fee of R100 per person which includes a glass and 12 wine tasting tokens. Food dishes are priced individually by vendors. These communal parties are from 6PM until 8PM and children are welcome.

Mark these down in your calendar:

28 November

12 December 2018*

16 & 30 January

13 & 27 February

13 & 27 March 2019*

*weather permitting

www.wineroute.co.za

Celebrate HG Wells & DH Lawrence this September

Social Kitchen & Bar has established itself as a haven for lovers of both literature and fine food. Located in one of Johannesburg’s most exclusive areas, the warm wooden interior lends itself to conversations with old friends that continue late into the night.

September heralds the arrival of Spring, and it’s the month we celebrate two of the world’s most acclaimed romance writers. Both DH Lawrence and HG Wells celebrate their birthdays during September – on the 11th and 21st respectively. Now, Social Kitchen & Bar invites you toast their lives while sipping on cocktails inspired by their greatest novels.

World Class cocktail competition winner Dom De Lorenzo has created a bourbon-based drink as a tribute to H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man and another which harnesses the passionate grapefruit notes of the Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence cocktail.

Although the Festive Season may still be months away, you just can’t help but think of Christmas when tasting the bourbon, apple, nutmeg and vanilla flavors of The Invisible Man. The novel itself is filled with unexpected psychological twists and the cocktail is just as deliciously deceptive. Arriving at one’s table looking like a glass of water, it turns out to consist of an explosion of understated elements that blend into a perfect, comforting moment.

The Guardian newspaper describes Women in Love as one of the two greatest novels (the other being Ulysses, another one of Social Kitchen & Bar’s tribute cocktails) written in English in the 20th Century. This cocktail certainly does that lofty reputation justice. The passionate spices of Don Julio work in perfect harmony with the subtle notes of vanilla and grapefruit. Much like the love of a woman, this passionate cocktail will have you coming back for more.

www.socialkitchenandbar.co.za

“Sisters-and-sweet” will celebrate diversity and heritage

September is “sister”-time at Stellenbosch Hills. To celebrate Heritage Month this year, the popular winery has tweaked its famous Local-is-Lekker Biltong & Wine Pairing at its cellar – for a limited time only – to also feature a most traditional confection: the koe(k)sister.

The quintessential South African dessert treat will be the kicker on the Stellenbosch Hills‘ experience that pairs its wines with biltong and droëwors. Extending the celebration of cultural diversity, tasters will be offered the choice of two versions: a plaited, sweet and crunchy koeksister or the Cape Malay-style equivalent koe’sister. The latter generally comprises a spiced dough-ball that’s deep-fried, dipped in boiling hot syrup and rolled in desiccated coconut.

Launched in 2005, Stellenbosch Hills’ Local is Lekker Biltong & Wine Pairing pioneered a genre that has subsequently been taken up by wineries far and wide.

Heritage Month is an extension of South Africa’s official Heritage Day, celebrated annually on September 24, officially launched in 1995. Like biltong, koe(k)sisters are regarded as an unmistakable part of the South African culinary lexicon.

Stellenbosch Hills’ Heritage Month offer will feature the full meaty experience of six wines, with the koe(k)sister paired with Stellenbosch Hills Muscat de Hambourg.

With a colour reminiscent of sunset, the wine is explosively fragrant with aromas and flavours of candy floss, boiled sweets, rose petals and violets. It shows best when served with koe(k)sisters, on crushed ice, over vanilla ice cream and strawberries or at room temperature in winter.

Other members of the pairing board are:

Springbok Biltong & Stellenbosch Hills 1707 Reserve White: A perfect balance between lean, dry game and the wine’s sumptuous citrus and buttered toast flavours.

Moist Beef Biltong & Stellenbosch Hills Polkadraai Pinotage/Merlot: Succulent complexity matched with sweeter notes of the premier red blend.

Ostrich Droëwors & Stellenbosch Hills Merlot: Milder game meat perfectly complemented by the plummy, ripe fruit flavours of a well-rounded companion.

Smoked Beef Biltong & Stellenbosch Hills Shiraz: A unique oak-smoked and cured biltong, gently spiced, connects seamlessly with smoky flavours of a wine that exhibits a hint of dark chocolate.

Kudu Droëwors & Stellenbosch Hills Cabernet Sauvignon: Subtle, yet rich game flavours – the perfect match for silky tannin and notes of ripe black fruit.

Traditional Beef Droëwors & Stellenbosch Hills 1707 Reserve Red: Exotic zest of roasted coriander offsets the wine’s clean spice and ripe tannin.

This exclusive and proudly South African pairing is available only for the month of September at R75 per person. Bookings can be made on 021 881 3828/9 or info@stellenbosch-hills.co.za.

www.stellenbosch-hills.co.za

Something new for Parktown North

After three years of serving up some of the best wild boar Mac ‘n Cheese in Parktown North, The National has closed its doors. But, not for long.

Chef James Diack is giving his Parktown North speakeasy a face lift, transforming it into a wine and food bar, which will be called Douglas + Hale. “I’m always keeping myself busy, and I am really excited about this new concept for the Johannesburg restaurant scene,” he says.

“I have always had a passion for wine and cocktails – having originally studied viticulture in Stellenbosch.”

The name pays homage to both Diack’s grandfathers – Douglas Diack and Mathew Hale. They’re also James and his brother Nick’s second names.

Douglas + Hale will serve an incredible range of fine wines – by the bottle, but mostly by the glass, all in Riedel Glassware,” says James.

“We’ll also have some absurdly good cocktails made by our in-house mixologist.”

For the food, James is keeping it simple and he’ll keep some of The National’s favourite dishes. “It’s a small, simple eating menu that will keep you interested through the evening,” he explains.

The rustic and relaxed atmosphere is set to become a local must for after work cocktails, pre-meal drinks, or a final night cap before you head home (in an Uber – no drinking and driving allowed!).

Douglas + Hale will open to the public on 25 September 2018. For bookings, contact them on 011 327 3030. Find them at 19 4th Avenue, Parktown North.

There’s a new kid on The Block

You can now fill up on decor, coffee and inspiration at The Block Cafe in Block & Chisel, Diep River, Cape Town.

The cafe was designed by Block & Chisel directors Paul McAdam and Susan McCoubrey to reflect the principles of the Block & Chisel brand – it’s not just easy on the eye, but also easy to live with.  The coffee and toastie emporium is all about good food, prepared simply.

Chef Courtney Ah-Sing has worked tirelessly to create an uncomplicated, delicious menu. “Watching the space and menu grow has been wonderful. I love the freedom and flexibility that comes with offering daily specials. We also make our cakes smaller, so they are elegant and always fresh,” says Courtney.

You’ll find plenty of personal touches in the cafe. It’s what makes it so comfortable and inviting. For instance, they serve a Boetie Bester, which is a blend of strong coffee with a dash of condensed milk and milk foam. It’s a treat their master craftsman Sibley McAdam enjoyed during his school holidays visiting his good friends on their family farm in the Karoo.

“The cafe is all about relaxed enjoyment – it’s meant to be the sort of place you can spend time catching up with friends and really feel like you are at home,” says Susan McAdam. The space is designed to inspire the level of comfort, style and enjoyment that we all strive for in our own homes.

The beautiful oak bar was designed specifically for the space and constructed by Block & Chisel‘s  workshop team in Philippi. A truly commanding feature that shows off delectable goods, while also illustrating fine craftsmanship.

The dining area is a mixture of styles from classic to modern, with all items available to purchase. The cafe therefore serves as a way to “test drive” certain items before you buy them.

“We’re really proud of how the cafe has turned out, and hope that our customers get to enjoy spending time there as much as we have loved creating it,” Managing Director Paul McAdam adds.