Cena Itinerante – The Wandering Feast
The Cena Itinerante or “wandering feast”, when advertised for the Crave Sydney Food Festival, instantly grabbed my attention. I didn’t really know what to expect here – restaurant-hopping across three different establishments which add up to a full meal’s worth of food. Food and exercise? Well now you’re just pulling my arm. But I had to give it a go, to see what this rather unusual Crave event entailed.
We visit three places – 121BC for appetisers and aperitivos, Vini for an entrée (and even more wine), and finally Berta for main and dessert (and more wine still).
Why the heck did I drive (I’m on green Ps = no alcohol allowed)…hoo boy.
Establishments Visited: 121BC Cantina & Enoteca, Vini, Berta
Date Visited: 20/10/2012
Address: (121BC) 50 Holt St Surry Hills, NSW 2010
(Vini) 3/118 Devonshire St Surry Hills, NSW 2010
(Berta) 17-19 Alberta Street Sydney, NSW 2000
Go-to dish: N/A
After an explanation given by the restaurant manager, I found out the three places are actually under the same management – which makes a LOT of sense. Such a linked combination would be quite difficult to envision and implement otherwise. The restauranter describes the Cena Itinerante as a way to unify the three, and I can’t argue with that.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any pictures of 121BC as it was
a) extremely small – it’s like one long corridor with one table as the bar
b) extremely dark – seriously, it’s the darkest place I’ve ever been to. Even with a tripod, I’d have to expose for nearly a minute just to get good shots. I could barely make out the food with my own eyes…
c) extremely cramped – there was basically no room to set up a tripod.
For those who advocate using the flash – I say “BOO” to you for obvious reasons.
We did end up enjoying a salumi & cheese platter, which was of extremely high quality. I was particularly fond of the prosciutto and pecorino. Both went down especially well with some great aperitivos (we got two glasses), though I only had mere sips from each and gave the rest to my friend…I can’t risk being caught drink driving!
After this initial serving of yummy, but ultimately un-fulfilling appetisers, we make our way to Vini – thankfully less than one minute’s walk away (convenient! Hah!).
Unlike 121BC, which is actually a bar (enoteca) not a restaurant, Vini is a proper restaurant, albeit a small (cosy?) one.
We were sat in tables of 4, so my friend and I were placed with a very friendly older couple who are also foodies! Naturally the conversation began to flow like water, and with two glasses of red wine each (seriously, so much wine!), things got merry. I think my friend was getting kind of tipsy by this point. Oh boy.
With not long to wait, we were presented with our entrée of potato rotolino which tasted marvelous! The beef was so tender and rich, the pastry firm but yielding when chewed on, and the overall texture balance sublime. There wasn’t too much pastry or too much filling – the balance was pretty much perfect, and the flavour was pretty darn awesome to boot.
To accompany, a light salad of zucchini was also prepared. I’m predisposed towards cucumber-like vegetables, so I happily ate a lot of this, though it was a much more…’boring’ dish? A comparison really can’t and shouldn’t be made though – it is just a salad after all.
With Vini done, we make our way to Berta. This trip takes much longer, perhaps 15 minutes at the pace we were walking. We were kept entertained by a performer (see cover pic) which was an awesome and authentic touch.
Berta is quite a dark restaurant once again, but this time, I could get enough light and time to take usable shots. Whoop whoop! Like the previous two places, there’s plenty more wine offered, and when I offered them to my friend again…yeah things didn’t end too well. But that’s afterwards.
Our main is brodetto di mare – a type of seafood stew which contains various types of catches, and it’s kind of like free-for-all in that sense – though yes, it does have its own name.
The sago in the dish was particularly nice, though overall it was probably a bit too tomato-ish for me. The sourness that lingers across the dish never quite escaped the notice of my taste buds, but I’ve never taken to seafood + tomato bases very well in the first place, so that’s just me.
We were seated at the bar, so right in front of us we have people preparing rosemary for future dishes. It got a little awkward reading their lips haha.
Out comes the dessert, which is made in the oh-so-very appropriate form of the Italian flag. I’ve never had basil sorbet before, but I’ll tell you it tastes quite refreshing, and not actually /that/ much like basil! The goat’s milk sorbet in the middle is my favourite – its milky, creamy refreshing quality is unsurpassed and is amongst one of the best flavours I’ve ever tasted. As for the raspberry sorbet, my bias against raspberries puts it as merely “OK”, but it’s “OK” amongst greats, so that’s not too bad really.
This is a pretty outstanding and cool event organised by the three establishments. You have to do something like this again.
No rating shall be given, as the one meal was far too subdivided amongst three establishments. I’ll be sure to visit each individually in the future!
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three