Between the end of winter veg and the arrival of summer veg there are a few weeks without much English seasonal food around. Filling the gap this week in my veg box: Spanish asparagus, tomatoes and calabrese.
AND, a big bonus of three organic fruits and half a dozen eggs from Riverford to make up for the damage in transit last week to my box of veg to grow. Appreciated!
No question of what to eat first . . . it has to be the asparagus. I always approach asparagus with a great anticipation of pleasure.
As I don’t have a steamer I placed the asparagus in shallow boiling water, then simmered for a couple of minutes after cutting about an inch off the end stalks. Serve with a knob of butter, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
My first taste of asparagus was April 1979 whilst on a business trip to Vienna with my then, Austrian boss. He told me, ‘there’s no better time, or place on earth, to eat your first asparagus than here during Spargel Saison’. I can’t remember anything about that trip other than celebrating this fact and consequently, eating asparagus at all the restaurants we dined at and going through the wine list to find the perfect accompaniment.
That kind of initiation with a native and an expense account, spoils one for everywhere else one is likely to encounter asparagus.
As for the Spanish variety, I’d give it a low 5 and expect this season’s English to come up to a 7 or 8 when it arrives. That’s about as good as it gets here. I know because every year I’m left with a certain kind of longing afterwards, for something better.
Top Tip. Unsalted butter is usually cheaper than salted varieties so worth keeping a supply just for cooking.