Media Release, Wednesday 13 October
Welcome Casa Mérida and Santa Catarina
Milpa Collective, who own and operate authentic Mexican eateries across Sydney (Calita, Carbon, Taqiza and Sonora), Caribbean inspired cocktail bar La Palma and Mexico City based MUX, prepares to launch two of its three new Sydney-based venues this month, opening the doors to Casa Mérida and Santa Catarina.
Casa Mérida will launch on 19 October on Kellett St in Potts Point. The 70-seat venue draws its inspiration from the city of Mérida – its palatial elegance and Mayan ancestry, juxtaposing stone and rustic time-worn interiors with chandeliers and luxe gold detailing to create a feeling of nostalgia and history. Casa Mérida’s design is inspired by the charm and opulence of the renowned Coqui Coqui Mérida, based on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.
Showcasing traditional Mayan cuisine while utilising the best in local produce, menu highlights include market fish ceviche (lima leche de tigre, maax’ik chile, citrus cured lobster, tortilla strips, red onion and chervil); a range of tacos including Mayan octopus, chicken and jackfruit; Cochinita Pibil (signature pork cochinita cooked al pib with frijol colado and fermented onions); Spatchcock recado negro (burnt dry chilli with tortilla ashes and xnipec onion); and a cut of the day cooked Poc Chuc (grilled sirloin with ixil spring onion, sour orange and champagne jus).
The drinks menu will feature new Mexican spirits, rare mezcals imported from indigenous communities in Oaxaca, and tequilas exclusive to the venue including top tier selections of Clase Azul Ultra, 3-4-5 and Casa Dragones at $300-$400 a shot. The cocktail list draws inspiration from the Mérida Region’s tropical products and ritual Mayan beverages such as Balch’e and Sak’a along with an extensive list of Margaritas and Latin American classic cocktails. The Australian-led wine list will champion organic, biodynamic and sustainable producers such as Stephano Lubiana, Adelina, Spinifex and Alkina, with a selection of international classics including Chablis, Sancerre and Champagne.
Pablo Galindo Vargas, co-owner of Milpa Collective says of the expansion “In essence, Milpa Collective is a celebration of the beauty and vibrancy of our home country, Mexico. It is a rich tapestry of unique cities, flavours, people and experiences. We want to honour that by representing a different part of Mexico in each of our venues. To be able to build on that story with the launch of these new venues is incredibly humbling. We can’t wait to open our doors and share the vibrancy and diversity of Mexico with our existing community and new communities”.
Opening on Clarence Street in the CBD on 2 November, Santa Catarina pays homage to Oaxacan municipality, ‘Santa Catarina Minas’. The 100-seat mezcal bar will feature a large wine cellar as well as an intimate private dining room, creating the perfect week-round drinking and dining destination in the CBD.
The elegant and modern menu designed to share, pays homage to the ancestral cuisine of Oaxaca and showcases traditional Mexican dishes such as Mole Madre, which was once offered as a tribute to the gods and to this day is associated with celebration in Oaxaca. Santa Catarina’s signature Mole utilises more than fifty original ingredients and is made using ancient techniques passed down from indigenous communities in Oaxaca. Milpa Collective’s executive chef Manuel Diaz will lead the venue, drawing inspiration for the menu from his own upbringing in Oaxaca.
“The menu is inspired by the dishes I grew up with. My grandmother Mago used to run a restaurant in Oaxaca and I watched her cooking from the time I was about four years old – she is truly still my best teacher. I learnt from her the importance of fresh produce and cooking everything from scratch using only the raw ingredients”, says Diaz. “Arriving in Australia four years ago, I fell in love with its bush foods and native Australian ingredients, and we have the privilege of being able to combine those endemic ingredients from both Australia and Mexico to create a menu that honours both places. It’s been magic to see how those flavours come together. For me, this menu draws inspiration from childhood memories in Mexico, years working in fine dining from Mexico to France, paired with an Australian sensibility. Locally sourced, organic produce is a priority for us, to keep the flavours as clean as possible”.
Menu highlights include Tostadas De Pulpo Don Chileajo (Charred octopus and seasonal veggies on a guajillo sauce on a fresh guacamole bed with queso fresco); Memelitas De Chapulin (Gold crickets on a thin dry roasted masa bed, with queso salado and pork rind spread); Tlayuda Con Tasajo (Handmade 30cm crispy toasted tortilla with pork rind spread, oaxaca cheese, beans puree and wagyu flank steak); Braised Choko Mole Verde (Braised choko and baby corn with crispy enoki mushrooms on a pepita and green chile sauce) and oven-roasted catch of the day (served with guíiña doo prawn salsa, plantain puree and herb salad).
With the majority of the world’s mezcal being sourced from Oaxaca, Santa Catarina will be an opportunity to showcase some of the more rare and authentic varieties, through Milpa Collective’s direct connection to Oaxacan producers who still utilise ancestral techniques through distilling in clay pots.
“Mezcal and tequila are at the heart of all of our venues, but Santa Catarina is an opportunity for us to showcase something really special. We have sourced ancestral mezcals distilled in clay alongside rare and premium tequilas as part of what we call our ‘Mezcal Cazadores de Sabores’ approach (‘Mezcal hunters of flavour’) and we’re very excited to share them with our community”, says Milpa Collective co-owner Liber Osorio. “We have a great respect for the indigenous producers of Oaxaca, and are committed to representing fair trade, sustainably sourced products through all of our venues, and our beverage offering is a huge part of that”.
Milpa Collective’s third opening, Londres 126, is slated to launch in Sydney’s new Quay Quarter on 12 November.
Casa Merida will open on 19 October, operating Tuesday-Friday: 5.30pm-late, Saturday-Sunday: 12pm-late.
Santa Catarina will open on 2 November, operating Tuesday-Saturday: 12pm-late.
About Milpa Collective
Milpa Collective was created by owners and chefs, Liber Osorio and Pablo Galindo Vargas in 2017. The Mexican and Chilean born and raised duo bring traditional and contemporary Mexican and Latin American cuisines to life across their venues. Each venue is inspired by a different region of Mexico, showcasing their distinct cooking methods and flavours.
Milpa Collective’s stable of venues includes Calita (meaning ‘tiny beach’ in Spanish, showcasing locally and sustainably sourced seafood through Baja Peninsula inspired dishes), Taqiza (Mexican slang for ‘taco party’, inspired by Mexico City), Carbon (meaning ‘charcoal’, showcasing shared style wood fired and parrilla recipes from Tulum and Southern Mexico) and La Palma (meaning ‘Palm Tree’; Caribbean cuisine and 1950s Havana style cocktails) in Bondi Beach; as well as Sonora (a region of Mexico bordering the United States, specialising in traditional flour tortillas) in Potts Point. The name ‘Milpa’ comes from a traditional agricultural technique where farmers plant crops together that are nutritionally and environmentally complementary, to produce the best yield. It is a sacred practice which brings together the family, community and the universe. The Milpa Collective ethos centres on bringing this sense of community and collaboration to all of their venues, as a common thread that ties the group together.