Last Spring I took the time to discover, again…
Asparagus. Yes, I have been eating asparagus for years. Loving it. The first few times were probably smothered in cheese sauce but as time went on I moved on to steamed, roasted and grilled. It’s a great quick cooking vegetable and can take on just about any cuisine. Just threw some in fried rice the other day… But last spring, I had an epiphany about asparagus. Things have not been the same.
We were heading up north to check on our property. When there, I cook. Before the trip I stopped by the Co-op and grabbed a few things. The local asparagus seemed appropriate and I was roasting a chicken so… hey, perfect. I was also bringing a couple bottles of wine. One being my first bottle of summer Rose. Exciting! So, for brunch the next day as I pondered over what to make, the asparagus tempted me so eggs won out over the chicken. I decided to make an asparagus, gruyere and spring onion omelet. It seemed only appropriate to open the Rose, why not? let the relaxing begin. The sun was warm and we dined on the deck, sipping Rose and and enjoying the omelet, much more than usual. So much so, I had to stop and analyze it. This requires picking apart the food to taste each ingredient, separately. Yes, the cheese, Gruyere Cru Surchoix was amazing. (BTW this cheese just won 2016 World Championship blue ribbon, and is hard to get right now!). But, it was actually the asparagus that caught my attention. It tasted different. There was a drastic flavor difference between this asparagus and the regular supermarket variety I was so used to. To be truthful, I am sure I have picked up asparagus fresh from the Farmers Market in the past but, it was the Rose, that caused me to slow down, to savor this spring vegetable. The asparagus was herbal, sweet, and little earthy. It was delicious. The flavor lingered and paired perfectly with the nutty, melted, gruyere. It was memorable, obviously, I am still thinking about it a year later! After a bit of research, I learned like sweet corn and peas, asparagus contains lots of sugar at the moment of harvest. After asparagus is picked the sugars rapidly begin to form starch molecules, turning the tender sweet stalk a little more bland and starchy. Ah, so that’s what I have been eating.
This time of year do me, your farmer, and your tastebuds a favor: don’t buy the asparagus from the grocery stores. Deliciousness is just a Farmers Market stroll away, or a drive to a local farm, read on.
Those of you might remember our former staff member, Chef Hil. Well, she got married and opened upBlossom Hill Orchard and Farm. It is a gorgeous farm and the farm store is adorable! Along with her farm’s produce she offers jams, honeys, crackers and other great items just like ZZest Market! We taught her well. But, what ZZest Market only had a taste of, is her fabulous bakery items. These lovelies are worth the trip right there. Pies! pies! muffins, cookies and more. Everything she touches is country farm, comfy, perfection. Take a drive it’s beautiful. Although apples are their main produce their farm is growing. Right now for the season they have rhubarb and asparagus. Also, Hillary and Dane will be at the Rochester Farmers Market weekly starting mid-May.
Here’s a happy little extra- If you absolutely need to store asparagus, treat it like you would a bunch of flowers. Place the trimmed ends into a cup of water with the stalks standing straight up, then loosely cover the tips with a plastic bag to prevent evaporation. Set the whole thing in the fridge. But seriously eat the asparagus ASAP. Perfect in omelets, or roasted with olive oil and truffle salt, grilled with a drizzle of balsamic or steamed with butter and sea salt. Make an asparagus pesto with almonds, pecorino and olive oil, serve over freshly cooked pasta. Asparagus risotto! yum. Psst… the perfect pasta and arborio rice is available at ZZest Market!