Asparagus is back, asparagus is back!!! The Loire Valley has done its magic, and bunches of white and green, fat, juicy asparagus stalks beckon.
I could wait to indulge until Baptiste’s asparagus pokes through the soil of his nearby fields in Criqueboeuf sur Seine. But it’s been a long winter and I cannot. So I expand my definition of local. After all, the Loire Valley is only 183 kilometers away, which is still very local. Right?
In any case, I bought a bunch of asparagus yesterday to share with a friend who was coming for lunch. I braised the stalks, which intensifies their green, spring flavor. Enhanced with sprigs of thyme and a couple of fresh bay leaves, the asparagus was a conversation-stopper: succulent, juicy and tender, yet firm. I hope you’ll try it as soon as you find local asparagus. You will be soooo happy.
A couple of notes: If your stalks are of varying thickness, begin the cooking process with the thickest and add the thin stalks later. Also, Attention (Attensyon)! Stalks prepared this way are not crisp, they are tender and cooked through, and at that stage – which I consider perfectly cooked – they give ALL their flavor.
Of course there is nothing wrong with raw asparagus – it’s surprisingly juicy and beguiling. But it’s better when it’s perfectly cooked.