Cauliflower joined the vegetable walk of fame a few years back and according to the New York Times, MasterChef Israel's judge Eyal Shani is in part responsible. Its rock star status has seen it propelled onto the menus of your favourite restaurants, exalted from side to centerpiece in pubs, pizzerias and paleo-friendly joints (though, some still shudder at the words ‘cauliflower’ and ‘rice’ being teamed).
“When you’re given a title, you cannot get out of the title – it’s kind of a problem,” Shani admits. “In the beginning, it was tomato – 20 years ago. But then I recognised people talking about cauliflower ‘flowers’. I ask you: How many flowers are inside the cauliflower?”
The Tel Aviv celebrity chef gently shuts down my stab of 12.
“No. Just one. If I give you a flower and I tell you cut it and mash it, would you? No – you cannot break flowers. So I decided not to break the cauliflower.”
And so, Shani’s now world-famous cauliflower dish was born, roasted whole in the oven with just olive oil and seasoning until the outside crisps up and turns golden and the inside softens like butter.
It’s just one of the dishes that will be available on the menu at the first Australian outlet of Miznon, Shani’s world-famous Israeli street food restaurant.
The brand may now be global, dishing out artisinal pita pockets in Paris, Vienna and Israel, but Miznon (Hebrew for ‘kiosk’) is far from formulaic; Shani curates each menu based on what the region has to offer, produce-wise.
"In Australia, there are so many colours and variety, so I’ve combined seven beans from all over the country inside one big pita with garlic, lime and olive oil. It’s very simple, tasty and crunchy."
He’s also played with the falafel formula, developing what he believes is a superior patty.
“In the last few week, I’ve discovered that there is a better shape for the falafel. It is to make it like a hamburger shape. We are doing this in Melbourne and it will be one of the best falafels in the world – I am very excited about it."
Vegetables might be king at Miznon but there’s no shortage of meat; Angus minute steak arrives pink and caramelised with tahini and pickles, and there’s pita stuffed with lamb rib stew and tahini.
“In Israel, for us, food is the way to take passion out of people. Food is the best words that you can give someone.”
Miznon is open Mon - Sun, 11am – 11pm; 59 Harware Lane, Melbourne VIC