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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Berta, Sydney (CLOSED)

EDIT: Berta has now closed

You'll find Berta hidden down an industrial-looking alleyway in the back streets of Surry Hills. Just a block up from Spice I Am, the glass door to Berta is plain, unassuming and extraordinarily heavy.

Berta isn't usually open during the day, but today the tiny space is clanging with voices, an assembly of Sydney media for the launch of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2011.

Chicken liver pate with green beans, pickled beets and house-made flat bread
by O Tama Carey, Berta

Both Billy and I attended the festival in March this year, and we're keen to see what's in store ahead. This year the themes will include:

  • Women of the Kitchen
  • The Lost [culinary] Arts, and
  • Stars of Spice.

Cauliflower fritters
by Rosa Mitchell, Journal Canteen

Our four-course lunch features dishes by guest chefs Rosa Mitchell from Journal Canteen and Philippe Mouchel from The Brasserie. Both of them have cooked traditional dishes from their childhood.

Sicilian stuffed artichokes
by Rosa Mitchell, Journal Canteen

Rosa says that growing up Italian meant artichokes were a common dish in her childhood. Today's artichokes have been picked from her cousin's garden in Werribee South, a special variety that don't have the usual choke inside.

It's actually my first time eating a fresh artichoke (sacre bleu, I know), and I love the process of peeling off each stalk and scraping them clean with my teeth. Most people stick to knife and fork, but by the time I start cutting into it, I'm already regretting the abandonment of fingers and the delicacy of eating each layer one by one.

Rosa Mitchell

Philippe Mouchel in the kitchen at Berta

Philippe Mouchel says that adding a crust to meat is something his grandmother always did and the thick spread of rosemary and parmesan paste on the gigantic veal chops is an ideal way to add flavour and protect the moisture of the meat.

Potato gnocchi with king oyster mushrooms, brown butter and veal jus emulsion
by Philippe Mouchel, The Brasserie

Rosemary-parmesan and black mushroom-crusted veal chops
by Philippe Mouchel, The Brasserie

Potato gnocchi with veal cutlet and rocket salad

The line-up of chefs for the festival is an inspiring mix of new, young, iconic and different. I'm excited to hear that the Edible Garden will also be back next year, a garden constructed in the middle of the city centre with seeds available for the public to grow.

2011 featured guests include:
  • Elena Arzak, head chef of the three Michellin-starred Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain
  • Bompas & Parr, jellymongers from the UK who once staged a jelly banquet for 2,000 people, and created a four-tonne lake of cognac punch that guests had to row over before drinking
  • Roy Choi, famous for his tweeting food truck that tells followers where his Korean-flavoured tacos (beef short ribs in a corn tortilla with a special sauce containing 21 ingredients) will be available
  • Nigella Lawson, the domestic goddess and kitchen seductress
  • Hisako Ogita, a world class expert in the art of macaron-making, from Tokyo
  • Angela Hartnett, a Gordon Ramsay protege who now runs the Murano restaurant and the York & Albany pub in London
  • Thorsten Schmidt from Malling + Schmidt, Arrhus, Denmark, known for his experimental foods and techniques which resulted in a recent ice cream made from oak bark that apparently tasted delicious
  • Zakary Pelaccio from the Fatty Crab, New York
  • Anna Hansen, who started as a dishwasher at Fergus Henderon's restaurant French House Dining before eventually ascending to the role of head chef. She now runs The Modern Pantry, London
  • Mary Calmobaris who will be cooking with her son, George
  • Maggie Beer and Stephanie Alexander who will be cooking together
  • Anna Gare, soon to hit our TV screens with Junior Masterchef
  • Paris Cutler from Planet Cake, Sydney

Ice cream slice of hazelnut gelato, chocolate gelato, hazelnut meringue with pear and grappa
by O Tama Carey, Berta

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival runs from 4-14 March 2001 - Latest program details

Cupcake by Planet Cake

Berta on Urbanspoon

17-19 Alberta Street
Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9264 6133

Opening hours:
Monday to Thursday 5pm-10pm
Friday to Saturday 5pm-10.30pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
12 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/07/2010 02:16:00 am


  • At 9/07/2010 9:34 am, Blogger ragingyoghurt said…

    GASP. that gnocchi looks amazing. i really never order gnocchi anymore -- too much potato stealing precious stomach space -- but i would make an exception for that one. drool...

  • At 9/07/2010 12:38 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    I love how you remind me that there *are* things in this world that are tasty without being 90% sugar or peanut butter ;) Must get myself some tasty pate soon! (Still haven't quite psyched myself up to make your recipe...)

  • At 9/07/2010 1:17 pm, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    I am looking forward to have that cupcake for lunch! But I am more looking forward to be back in Melbourne any time soon to try out more restaurants and check out more laneways!

  • At 9/07/2010 1:49 pm, Blogger Two fit and fun gals said…

    the cauliflower fritters look yummy :)

  • At 9/07/2010 4:08 pm, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    The gnocchi looks like scarab, a delicious, gooey potato scarab.
    And fancy having Nigella Lawson, what a coup - will definitely be planning a visit to Melbourne, I think!

  • At 9/07/2010 4:34 pm, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    Methinks a visit to Melbourne next March may be in order. What a delicious line-up

  • At 9/07/2010 10:46 pm, Anonymous Mrs Pig Flyin' said…

    The jellymongers are so much fun and I like Angela Hartnett. I am very surprise that you haven't had fresh artichoke before, the season has just started and I had some wonderful ones last week

  • At 9/07/2010 10:56 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    I know this isn't a normal thought process, but the gnocchi are so neat and rounded that they look like little maggots! Very tasty ones I bet too =)

  • At 9/08/2010 1:18 pm, Anonymous JT @areyouhungary said…

    Great photos helen, sounds like a great afternoon was had! Always good to try something new!

  • At 9/09/2010 1:49 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi bowb - I'm the same. I've very picky when it come to ordering gnocchi in restaurants, and lol, alas I always seem to have lots of stomach spaces!

    Hi Hanah - lol. But I think sugar and peanut butter make up 90% of delicious things?

    Hi Billy - I agree. Melbourne is awesome :)

    Hi Betty - Fried cauliflower is always a tasty combo!

    Hi OohLookBel - The gnocchi did have quite a distinct shape and yes, Nigella Lawson is quite a coup!

    Hi John - The Melbourne festival program looks great and there's such a good mix of guests.

    Hi Mrs Pig Flyin' - The jellymongers are insane. And yes, I've always wanted to try fresh artichoke but never cooked my own. I'm sure Pig Flyin cooked up a feast!

    Hi mademoiselle delicieuse - lol. They did have distinct markings although I think Bel's description of them looking like scarabs is probably more appealing!

    Hi JT - Eating out is always about trying something new :) It was a lovely lunch.

  • At 9/09/2010 10:31 pm, Anonymous Mrs Pig Flyin' said…

    Just a quick lunch, vegetarian pasta for one plus grilled vege but it was the best vegetarian lunch I've ever had

  • At 9/14/2010 6:02 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Mrs Pig Flyin' - Sounds amazing!


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