Brussels sprouts are as divisive as sauvignon blanc – loved or hated with equal intensity. I fall on the ‘lovers’ side, but lightly steamed with a drizzle of olive oil and a grind of pepper is my preference. Here’s a few of my favourite Brassicas.
Brussels sprouts at Bistecca + 2016 Fuligni Ginestreto Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy, A$72
I finally ate at Sydney’s Bistecca last Christmas and it lived up to the hype. The T-bone was superbly cooked but the Brussels sprouts stole the show, the outer leaves crisp and charred with a tender heart dressed with crème fraîche and shaved pecorino. We had a Tuscan red with the bistecca eschewing the pricey Brunellos for this great example of sangiovese grosso. Its grainy tannins mopped up the T-bone, while its savoury flavours tuned into the sprouts.
Sauerkraut with pork schnitzel + 2017 Hahndorf Hill Blueblood Blaufrankisch, Adelaide Hills, A$45
Cabbage comes in all guises but my favourite ‘dine out’ version is sauerkraut – as I’m too lazy to make it myself. In the days of international travel, a schnitzel and sauerkraut was a must when visiting Vienna. I’ve kept things local by paring Larry Jacob’s excellent take on a classic Burgenland Blaufrankisch – and yes, I made the sauerkraut for this article. It was okay, but I can’t wait to get back to Vienna.
Yum Cha with Gai lan and oyster sauce + Lord Nelson Brewery Three Sheets Ale 375ml can, A$5
Yum cha is a simple pleasure and one that skirts around wine, a rare meal in my line of work. A beer is the perfect offset to the spicy dishes I enjoy. While the flavours of the dumplings can be random, one must-have is the Chinese broccoli. The Three Sheets Ale is clean and crisp, and the perfect foil to the chilli sauce I liberally dispense.
Broccoli and cauliflower with garlic, chilli flakes & shallots + 2020 David Franz Eden Edge Riesling Semillon, Eden Valley, A$27
Weeknights are often tagged as meat-free in my household but I miss the punch of flavour protein brings to a meal. One meal with some clout is a simple sautéed cauliflower and broccoli dish with garlic, chilli flakes and topped with finely sliced shallots. A glass of aromatic white is the go-to wine and none more suited than David Lehmann’s quirky white blend. There’s enough structure to meet the power of the dish with a hint of phenolics to cleanse the palate.
Ottolenghi’s Cavolo Nero with Chorizo & Preserved Lemon + 2019 Mengoba Bierzo Brezo Blanco, Valdeorras, Spain, A$36
Kale gets a bad rap but cooked à la Yotam Ottolenghi, it’s a winner. The trick is the protein-packed chorizo and its chilli kick. The chance to match the Spanish inspired chorizo and a Spanish white was hard to resist, especially when I tasted the current Brezo – a godello and doña blanca blend. They’re not your everyday Australian varieties, but in combination, they’re a perfect match with the kale.
Cauliflower a la Leigh Stone-Herbert + 2019 Kooyong Beurrot Pinot Gris, Mornington Peninsula, A$32
Yotam Ottolenghi may be world-famous but an unsung hero of Australian food is Leigh Stone-Herbert, a modest man who’s cooked in the background of Sydney’s groundbreaking restaurants – think Berowra Waters Inn, Claude’s and his own Le Rostbif. He shared this easy-peasy recipe with me and it’s absolutely delicious. Keep the outer green leaves on a whole cauliflower, liberally douse with olive oil and bake for an hour or so. Generously sprinkle parmesan in the latter stage of cooking. A rich, unctuous white worked well and there’s none better than the Beurrot pinot gris, especially if you sneak a pork cutlet on the side.
Known for their power to ward off bad guys like inflammation and cancer, Brassicas are worthy of a starring role in any Marvel movie.