Monday 26 April 2010

Savour the Spears

God I love Spring in the UK - the trees are bent low with blossom, the cricket season starts and there's an air of expectation and optimism that is almost tangible.

I'm sure, partly, it's because it's such a great time for fresh produce that, when you eat it, you can almost feel it doing you good.

Some of my most longed-for treats finally come to fruition in April and May and there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that compares to English green asparagus - sorry, but I'm not brooking any argument here.

That Peruvian nonsense you get in Winter is pallid & flavourless, I don't know why it bothers to make the journey, and don't even get me started on that weird white stuff - shudder!

But a beer match can be tough, because with British asparagus's inherent bitterness you have to drink something with a little residual sweetness in it, which is a point well made by Zak Avery's tripel suggestions, but I thought I'd throw my penn'th worth in as his excellent v-blog nudged my memory about a sublime combination of prosciutto crudo-wrapped asparagus with the frothiest, lemoniest Hollandaise sauce, served up with a well-chilled Gouden Carolus.

First, I lightly steamed the asparagus before wrapping each stem in the prosciutto and pan frying it until the crudo was crispy. For the Hollandaise sauce I used Delia's recipe here but very carefully added some extra lemon juice and a little water and, using one of those otherwise useless milk foam thingies, gave it a right good frothing.

When paired with the asparagus and fruity prosciutto the Gouden Carolus becomes almost as herbal as Colomba, the Corsican unpasteurised wit beer made with herb de maquis, in fact it almost develops gin-like botanicals and then somehow combines with the hollandaise to develop an almost preserved lemon middle, with the bitterness of both the beer & the asparagus providing a long, but not aggressive, end to this symphonic oral episode.

Oh, and you must get in there with your fingers - asparagus should NOT be eaten with a knife & fork - it's a tactile, sensuous food that should flood your being with an overwhelming sense of naughty, indulgent enjoyment.


BeerReviewsAndy said...

mmmm beer, cricket and asparagus 3 of the finer things in life!!

i've just planted some asparagus in my veg patch, shame i can't pick it for 2 whole years ;o(

Adrian Tierney-Jones said...

I tried them with Grolsch Weizen with the steamed asparagus drawing out the sweetness of the beer, wiggling its little finger and out it came. There was a sweetness in the asparagus that chimed with the understated sweetness and childlike simplicity of the banana custard and vanilla in the Weizen. Superb.

Barry M said...

Germany is pretty good for seasonal eating, and I like it when Pfifferling (Chanterelle) season comes. But asparagus is one season I can't stand, sorry :) And it overlaps with Bärlauch (wild garlic) season, which although I like, seems to be consumed with a vengeance here. The land around Muenster is especially suited to asparagus, and it's bloody everywhere, with every restaurant offering it.

Reluctant Scooper said...

I'll second the weiss/asparagus combo. And the spear season's approach means we're only about eight weeks away from samphire in Norfolk. Plates of salty goodness dipped in melted butter. Yum.

BeerSwedenDarren said...

I'm embarrassed to admit I feel a little dirty after reading this beer and food combo. I never knew asparagus could be so sensual.It does, after all, make your pee smell funny.