Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Ravinteli Bertha gives Tampere some serious foodie credibility

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Ravinteli Bertha in Tampere is a great combination of stylish decor, relaxed and knowledgeable staff, interesting wines and menu that makes the most of offcuts and veggies alike.

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I like my own company. I'm not saying it's particularly good, but I've learnt to enjoy it. Sometimes too well, I think. But sure, by this age I've come to realize that being part of a couple has its perks, too. 

There are the obvious reasons (it's so much nicer to have someone to sleep next to and... well, analyze what's going on in Premier League's transfer window...) and then there are the less talked about ones:

- You're part of a team. It's you against the world. A.k.a. someone with whom to succumb into that blissfull bubble of conjoined contentment and condescendence and bitch about the stupidity of the rest of the world
- You only have to do laundry half as often: once you run out of your own, you can always borrow steal the other person's socks!
- You instantly double your wardrobe. Ok, this only works if you, too, have always dreamed of wearing nothing but boxers specifically manufactured for the army and special forces T-shirts.
- At restaurants you get to sample twice as many dishes.

Knowing me, you probably guessed right now the last one is the key factor improving the quality of my life, right? Though... do not ask what I'm wearing right now...

Last week I found myself in Tampere, a city 3-hour ride from Helsinki. Wondrful as it might be in many ways (the cradle of industrial revolution in Finland which has won it the nickname of Manse - after Manchester-  and home to FC Tampere United) it's not what you'd call a foodie destination. So far its culinary contribution to the word has consisted of blood sausages and chicken wings, which the city has developed a bizarre passion for. 

Though the motives behind the weekend getaway were not of the gastronomical kind ( I even left my camera at home! At home!), of course I had to squeeze in some of that, too. 

So I booked a table at Bertha, whose peculiarity at last year's Taste of Helsinki left an unforgettable impression (smoky bacon toffee with chocolate mousse and beef blood meringue, anyone...?)

The choice was a good one. We went for 4-course menu (€52) as the 6-course one (€66) seemed a bit too much at the time. In addition we went for the wine package (€43), though I asked mine with half pours. This was swiftly forgotten by the waiter, but as soon as he realized it, he apologized and suggest "I drink how ever much I feel like drinking". 

And yes, I was only charged for the half package. Nice going. We liked.

To start with we had Champagne which charmed us with its toasty elegance. This is the only place in Finland where you can get it and I admit that nugget of information would be more beneficial in case I actually remembered what it was. But I don't. And for that I'm sorry.

(OK - that's kind of one of the downsides of being part of a couple: you're far too occupied marvelling at the person you're with to actually pay attention to things that really used to matter. Like, wine)

Vendace, potato and dill was lovely plate of summery flavours. The wine pairing (Austrian Grüner Veltliner- Riesling - Sauvignon Blanc-Chardonnay-blend Stammerdorfer Gemischter Satz Satellit 2015) was intriguing and worked well, actually igniting an enological debate.

"This smells like gas", the date pointed out, picking up on the petroley notes typical for high-end Rieslings. That's my boy. 

Goat cheese, rose and beetroot was something even the date, an ardent follower of "none of that vegetarian food for me"- school of thought, loved. 

Wine pairing for this was one of the most sublime ones of the evening: Chilean Rucahue Pinot Noir Reserva from Maule Valley had wonderful vivaciousness that complimented gloriously especially the rosy notes of the dish. 

Another round of starters started with pork, durum and Indian cress. The dish had such a depth of flavours it evoked yet another spontaneous "Oh, my god" from me. The date was suitably impressed, too. 

Langhe Dolcetto DOP Visadi was a great companion. 

Beef, chantarelle and buckwheat was a celebration of offal and featured beef heart. I was jubilant as, much like the restaurant, I am a firm believer in making the most of every part of the animal. 

Lammershoek's Lam Pinotage from South Africa was a surprising new acquaintance: in its lingonberry-like tart lightness it was reminiscent of Old World Pinot Noirs. 

Mains had two choices, one of them (wait for it...) vegetarian option. Spelt, porcini and onion was not the prettiest of dishes, but rather surprisingly one of our favourites, even though it was preceded by the following exchange of words:

"You're not going to tell anyone I just voluntarily ordered vegetarian food, ok? Not. A. Word. To. Anyone. "

Wine pairing for this was another winner: Montenidoli's 100% Vernaccia. Rich, dry and wondefully aromatic wine. 

The other main continued making the most of offcuts: Nero cavolo, beef and turnip had slowly roasted shank and beef tongue in it. I was in Heaven, the date not so much. Don't you worry though - I'll get him onboard...

With this we enjoyed Selvapiana's Chianti Rufina Vendemmia 2013.

First dessert consisted of buttermilk, blackcurrant and currant leaves, which lent the sponge its delicate green colour.

The wine for this was a Seifried's beautifully concentrated yet zesty Sweet Agnes Riesling from New Zealand, which hit the spot. 

The apple, oat and juniper wasn't far behind either, though to accompany the toastiness of the sauce I would have longed for something in the line of Pedro Ximénez instead of Barbeito Delvino Reserva Madeira that it was served with.

Service was great throughout the dinner, wines were interesting and the food was excellent. Thank you Tampere! 

Next trip is scheduled for a couple of months from now - let's see what other treats we'll be in store for...!



   Kaks Kokka 3   


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