Great Ocean Food: Birthday wishes

April 30, 2020 BY

Today is my elder daughter’s 25th birthday.

She would usually be in Sydney with her friends and work colleagues, not stuck at home with her parents and younger sister. Not that she finds this onerous; she adores spending time with her only sibling and is also very tolerant of her parents!
It has been an unexpected positive for us to have our family together during this COVID-19 crisis. That said, I do feel sad that she is unable to celebrate with her friends at some exceedingly groovy restaurant in Sydney or Melbourne. Perhaps not surprisingly, she is particularly interested in food, so we are preparing somewhat of a feast in her honour this afternoon. I asked her preference thinking a leg of slow cooked leg of lamb or a poached salmon might be appealing. I was most surprised by her response.
Firstly, she would prefer a vegetarian spread, which is both to her liking but also considerate of her sister who is vegetarian. Secondly, and this time at which I nearly fell off my chair, was that she requested both brussels sprouts and red cabbage. Now if you had asked any of my friends, acquaintances or me what they would enjoy for their 25th meal celebration, these two vegetables would not have rated a mention. It would more likely have been roast beef, a pasta dish or even hamburgers! And I guarantee if the question had been posed as to their least favourite dish, brussels sprouts would have topped the list.
There is no doubt younger people are more sophisticated when it comes to food than we were. Their knowledge of food, wine and travel continues to astonish and delight me. Current crisis aside, they have grown up in an era in which their access to good food, fabulous wine and affordable travel has enhanced their cultural awareness and equipped them for the world in which they live.
My most earnest birthday wish for Isabelle is that this life continues, and we are all able to enjoy those pleasures which perhaps, we have taken somewhat for granted. Following is the recipes for the brussels sprouts, which I can smell from the oven as I type.

Roasted sprouts


500g brussels sprouts

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

5 cloves garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


Heat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Trim bottom of brussels sprouts, and slice each in half top to bottom. Heat oil in cast-iron pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers; put sprouts cut side down in one layer in pan. Put in garlic, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, undisturbed, until sprouts begin to brown on bottom, and transfer to oven. (You can transfer to a baking dish if your frypan is unsuitable for the oven).  Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until sprouts are quite brown and tender, about twenty minutes. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if required. Stir in balsamic vinegar and serve warm from the oven.


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