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6 February 2024

Da Terra Town Hall Hotel: From Designer Bowls To Tequila

An Eclectic Collection of Latin American Craft: From Designer Bowls To Tequila  
My first encounter with tequila was in a rough Covent Garden pub when it was in its last days as a fruit market.  I recall that we put some salt on the backs of our hands, licked it and swallowed the fiery liquid; it was as rough as the pub.  I thought that I had learnt enough about tequila on that distant occasion but I received an invitation that was too intriguing to refuse.  The invitation appeared to be a strange combination of elements; a trophy architect who had designed the Serpentine Pavilion in 2018, an historic distiller with a whole range of sophisticated tequilas and a dinner in a new restaurant.  At first glance, that combination would result in indigestion.  However, the clinching ingredient was a collection of drinking vessels made from obsidian volcanic rock which is a natural glass formed from lava.  The linking factor that runs through it all is Latin American.
I have collected vessels of numerous different uses and materials for years but I had never encountered drinking vessels or bowls of such powerful density, or is it either intensity or integrity?  Anyway they make a powerful impact.  The architect Frida Escobedo designed a limited edition of three drinking vessels which can be seen at Harvey Nichols.    
The designs are influenced by two natural elements; the agave plant which is grown on the volcanic soil and is used to make tequila, and a small faience container in the shape of a jicara fruit cup from which the spirit is traditionally drunk.
This second encounter with tequila was very different, for a start, the distillers Maestro DOBEL, offer a whole range of very drinkable offerings, my preference was for the smoky flavoured ‘Humito’ which is unique to Maestro Dobel.  Everyone is wondering which spirit will follow the path of the growth of gin, many say it will be rum but tequila should not be ruled out; amongst others, the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park has recognised the potential and features a selection of tequilas in the drinks list.
The new restaurant, Da Terra in the former Town Hall at Bethnal Green hosted the event and is deemed to be offering Mexican food.  The head chefs, Paulo Airaudo and Rafael Cagali have both previously worked at the Fat Duck, whilst Rafael has also worked at Simon Rogan’s Fera and Aulis.  As they acknowledge, the menu is influenced by Italian cuisine, a combination that works extremely well .   
Da Terra, Town Hall Hotel, 8 Patriot Square, London, E2 9NF, 020 7062 2052