For I have found the perfect serving of Brussels sprouts*. Some may scoff, especially as I failed to record this memorable occasion on camera. But I am a woman of honesty and integrity so you can take my word for it when I say that I was recently served a Brussels sprouts dish to die for. It was at a little Middle Eastern restaurant called Sefa Kitchen in Bondi, Sydney. In the absence of photographic evidence, we will have to make do with a somewhat fuzzy image of their bone marrow meze with its preserved lemon gremolata and polenta chips, to convey the ambience of this little eatery.
Their menu describes the dish as “Brussel sprouts** with almond tarator and zhoug”. I had to google both tarator (usually a yoghurt, cucumber and walnut based sauce) and zhoug (hot green spice paste of Yemeni origin). From memory the sprouts were not boiled or even steamed. They may have been lightly roasted.
Alas, my plans to attempt some re-creation of this taste treat at home this season have been thwarted by our resident Californian quail. We are very fond of these charming birds which are slowly increasing in number but have no intention of consuming either the birds themselves or their lovely speckled eggs. When you have watched Mama and Papa Quail herding their young, which resemble fluffy little bumblebees, around the garden, the thought of putting them on the dinner plate is unimaginable. But it was a close-run thing when a mob of them found a way into the protective cloche Mark has placed over this season’s crop of Brussels sprouts. The crop was decimated and the few we have salvaged are poor, shredded examples of this vegetable.
But for those who think the much maligned Brussels sprout is only palatable when cooked with bacon, I can recommend the Sefa treatment as being one of those rare restaurant dishes that is genuinely memorable.
Loosely related only, those who have visited here or know the area will realise that we live in a rural area of little sophistication, though it has its own charms. I like to travel but my most recent trip to see our daughters in Australia reminded me that nobody, just nobody, could ever think that Tikorangi is hipster.
I give you the ultimate example of Bondi hipsterdom in Sydney.
And the somewhat quaint example of hipsterdom in Canberra. No, I do not think pulling out the stained, blue woolly hat that my late mother in law used to adorn her teapot will achieve the desired level of hipsterdom when I lack the gluten-free friands as accompaniments.
Quail-pecked Brussels sprouts are the best we can manage.
* A singular teensy tiny member of the brassica family is a Brussels sprout. More than one are Brussels sprouts, not Brussel sprouts. I guess there should be an apostrophe in there somewhere, presumably at the end of the first word because they are, apparently, named for the city of Brussels.
** You may notice that Sefa have failed to get to grips with the plural term but I can forgive them that on account of the delicious nature of the dish.