Wednesday, May 11, 2011


A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

Who said that?  Some of the most beautiful things are fleeting and need to be pounced on while they are in front you for they disappear so quickly.

Asparagus is one of those joys. British asparagus appears to be a Thing. It is special and celebrated. It has a specific season of about 6-8 weeks and during this time everyone seems to be talking and eating it. I love it. I love the limited time only cache of it and the urgency. If you don't get some now you won't get any at all.

Yes I know you can get asparagus year round. But that's not the point, is it? This is English asparagus, grown as it is meant to be grown in the season in which nature intended. Did you know that most out of season asparagus comes from Peru where they are draining the water level to grow it (asparagus needs lots of water) - read this article about it. That's serious stuff. And it can't possibly taste as fresh and grassy and special as the stuff that's grown in your metaphoric backyard. And who wants to eat bland wooden stalks that make you pee funny the rest of the year? Seasonality people. Look it up.

We've been doing all sorts of things with asparagus. Because I buy an awful lot of it while I can. Roasted asparagus (olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper in the hot oven for 11 minutes) is a picnic staple for us - sometimes wrapped in ham, sometimes plain, once with romesco sauce. I eat it blanched and dripping in fancy salted butter for lunch. Grilled with grilled courgette and roasted tomatoes and basil oil a la Ottolenghi. Baked into a puff pastry tart. Munched on raw and crunchy like a carrot.

Tonight we're having it with polenta and cheese a la Guardian Ottolenghi. I figure there's a month left of experimenting and tasting. At the end of it I won't want to look at an asparagus spear. Which is fine and good because I won't be getting any until the official launch of the season in April 2012.

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