Asparagus is a bit like the truffle of seasonal veggies – they possess a real wow factor in appearance and flavour (and although nowhere near comparable to the price of winter truffles, they can set you back a little - more so at the very beginning of their short season). When the first spears turn up on the market tables, it’s a real sign that spring is here.
Asparagus is a sight to enjoy at any stage of their lifespan – pre-harvest, asparagus shoot uniformly upright out of the soil in close-knit communities; kind of reminiscent of toy soldiers on guard to defend their little piece of the earth. If you get a chance to see them in the field, we highly recommend it. Once picked and bundled with rubber bands into bunches of ten (give or take), they’re a universal favourite for seasonal eaters and food photographers alike, with their sweet, nutty flavour, elegant feathery tips and vibrant colour.
Green is a well-known variety, but what do you know about the white and purple kind? The green spears take on their colour from exposure to chlorophyll, whereas the white guys are purposely covered in soil to deprive them of sunlight. Again, like the coveted white truffle, the white asparagus is fawned over by chefs for its rare delicacy. The white asparagus is subtler in flavour than its green counterpart, while the purple spears are sweeter than both and are super tender. However, truth is, all three can be used interchangeably in recipes calling for asparagus..
Simple is often best when it comes to this spring treat, especially so when cooking at home. Curtis loves a side of white asparagus poached then caramelized in nut-brown butter with a fried egg – when you break the yolk with your fork, it makes for a delicious saucy, silky coating. Lemon juice, Parmesan, rich cow’s milk cheese and bacon lend well to asparagus as well as fellow seasonal produce like fava beans, peas, rhubarb, artichokes, spring garlic and spring lamb.
The changing of the seasons is a truly beautiful thing; life just wouldn’t be as fun or dynamic without all four. It’s well noted that there’s no better transition than the one from winter to spring. We are coming into warmer weather and everyone starts to come out of hibernation with a big smile on their face that says, “I’m up for anything!” Come along to Maude to revel in the season with April’s asparagus degustation.
Reservations for our March menu open on Tuesday 3rd February 2015.