I have always adored brussel sprouts, and have been trying to perfect my own recipe for quite some time now. To better understand the best ones I’ve had, I decided to consider them in a little more detail:
- Bodega – By far my favorite, these kicked off my brussel sprout kick this month. Partially shaved and ever socrispy, these guys were coated in a sweet pineapple glaze that we couldn’t help but scrape off the pan.
- Little Prince – Roasted in duck fat, these disappeared so quickly from the table I couldn’t even snap a photo! Perfectly browned quarters, and rich but not too fatty, these were extremely satisfying and served piping hot in a cast iron skillet.
- Blue Water Grill – On a frigid and snowy day, these were just the right addition to our cozy brunch. These sprouts, cut lengthwise, were caramelized in sherry and maple, offering up a flawless harmony of bitter and sweet.
- Craft Bar – These were meant to be a side to the special of the day, but we asked if they had any extra to be served up special for us. These came in a cast iron ramekin and were mostly whole, rather than sliced in half or quarters. As far as I can tell they were simply sautéed in butter and were seasoned just lightly enough that my very picky brother even had a few.
This past Saturday my saving grace was a cheeseburger, a bucket of hand-cut French fries, and a champagne cocktail. Headache or hangover aside, I must say that New York City brunch like this is certainly not something easily encountered in Northern Italy. Although Piedmont boasts grass-fed beef good enough to eat raw and wines of incomparable caliber, there’s just something about a lazy Saturday in the East Village; sitting elbow to elbow with the couple next to you at a table better suited for one than two; enjoying comfort food that could fix anything that ails you. A burger with cheese perfectly melted over each edge, a pail of fries we dumped on the table so as not to miss the crispiest ones at the very bottom, and a sweet bubbly concoction that brought my equilibrium right back into place.
It’s the small things like this that I appreciate so much more when I return from being abroad, those creature comforts that we take for granted day after day and week after week. Habits you might not consider to be your own traditions are ones vastly different from not only those in other countries, but even those in your same city. So think of those places, dishes or routines and remember what it is that makes them special to you – because ironically enough, that carne cruda plate and a glass of Barbera from the vineria in Bra sound pretty fantastic right now.