We received some boisterous radishes from our CSA box, both red and white, and decided that they should be consumed in a way more traditionnelles. In France, radishes are often consumed with sweet (unsalted) butter, and a little salt, sometimes on a piece of bread. What would go better with this than a glass of champagne? I don't know.
It doesn't have to be Champagne, mind you. Any dry sparkling white wine will do the trick. The piquant bite to the radishes would, in my opinion, pair well with a Spanish Cava, an Italian Prosecco, Asti, or Franciacorta, a Portuguese Mateus rosé or Vinho Verde, or a bottle of bubbles from California (just keep your André Cold Duck in the fridge for another day).
On a side note: according to the Gallo website, André is the #1 selling sparkling wine in America. Not surprisingly because it averages around $4 a bottle. But what's even more interesting is that they can legally call it "Champagne." Despite the fact that André is not made in Champagne France, is not likely made up of traditional Champagne vatietals, and it is most definitely not produced from the méthode champenoise, André was grandfathered in.
The radish (Raphanus sativus) is in the Brassicaceae family which also includes cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, Chinese cabbage, and horseradish. What gives radishes and many of its "cousins" their punch is a neat little system of the vegetable's version of chemical warfare.
Allyl isothiocyanate is the chemical responsible for the sharp peppery note generated by some members of the Brassicaceae family and it is what keeps animals from eating the plant. It is; however, harmful to the plant itself so it stores two otherwise harmless chemicals in separate containers within the cell walls. When something takes a bite of radish, the enzyme myrosinase is released and transforms a glucosinolate into allyl isothiocyanate.
Mmm, allyl isothiocyanate. Delicious.
Champagne, butter and radishes with some sea salt - what a great appetizer. For your viewing pleasure, I found a vintage André commercial, "Greet the season and your friends with the best, André"