A recent trip to the US made me recall my deep love for the brussel sprouts.
That tasty, mini brassica, which fell prey to badly cooked school dinners in the '80s, wreaking hate across a nation.
Despite the bad rap they have among Brits/ school kids, they are a classic British vegetable (if you're British. If you're American and thinking "hey, that's my brassica!" then fine, I deny you not). They have a somewhat Christmassy connotation in the UK but in Hong Kong, they're popular and you can get them year round.
I love them. I somehow escaped primary school unscathed by bad brussel sprouts and don't recall eating them in secondary school. I am, however, mostly vegetarian, in part, due to the horrors of eating meat at school.
But in the US, it's like they love sprouts with their cooking, not their mouths. You can find sprouts in all kinds of restaurants, in interesting combinations and typically, damn well made. The trip most definitely ignited in me, a little obsession, trying to recreate the lovingly cooked dishes, so I could love them with my mouth at home.
// Dammit, I don't have any in at the moment, so I can't, now, go and eat some, having ranted on about how great they are. //
In this popular chain of bars, brussel sprouts are carefully loved in a hot pan, with oil and salt. They come out a bright green, so have not been overcooked, despite that the outsides are wonderfully burnt brown and black, creating spots of crispiness and caramel. They are a tad oily, but the salt and sprout flavours just eat you up in a bundle of brassica joy.
Just USD 8
Motorino is known to be (one of) the best pizza place(s) in New York. And with a menu that includes brussel sprouts, who's surprised? (School kids, that's who). This bianco pizza is compiled of the standard Motorino dough – that's thin in the middle and chewy on the crust – topped with Perorino and brussel sprouts. And if you eat meat, smoked pancetta too. I have to admit that I've only eaten it without the meat (but would happily eat one or two small chunks of pancetta but perhaps not much more). One friend told me she was disgusted by this pizza, but I love it.
Oh yes, NYC. It's just doesn't quite taste the same in Hong Kong.
There are many cool things about this Mexican eatery, tucked away on Avenue B, not to mention the three guacamoles they have on the menu. Yes. Three. But it's the brussel sprouts that really surprised me. Brussel sprouts? I hear you ask. In a Mexican joint? I hear you ask. Yes my sweets, brussel sprouts in a Mexican joint! These little puppies are served with pork belly in a yummy tomato sauce that is basically a cooked, thickened salsa. Apparently it comes with tortilla, but all I recall is the creamy sprouts.
Just USD 5.50
*Too dark for a decent pic
Tucked away in Marshall County, Sonoma, Nick's Cove is a warm and woody affair. It's quaint and homely, with a water's edge deck and view of sunset.
The menu changes every day but always consists of fantastically fresh food, with a sophisticated-twist-on-an-old-favourite kind of charm. I mean, like the crab mac'n'cheese that I had, the taste of which still lingers on my tongue. The sprouts come with pancetta, of course. And what tasty morsels they were.
If I haven't yet got you, then go, now my dear, go and eat brussel sprouts. For they are good and green and strong.