Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Going for the Aspara-Gusto
So all of a sudden it's going Spring gangbusters around here, and in addition to some surging life and professional demands plus putting in my garden I've been busy gathering and cooking many fun edibles. The downside to all this busy-ness is that I haven't had a spare moment to write about the fun edibles part.
This year March 30th goes down as a red letter day in my personal calendar: Feast of the First Asparagus. There's a little farm stand down the road from where I live, and starting in late March I try to drive past at least once a day and see if the homemade "Asparagus" sign is posted out front. Last Wednesday was my lucky day -- the sign was flying, and I screeched into the field next to the little ramshackle compound. It was nearly 1 pm, and typically produce appears in the early morning at this place. When it's gone, it's gone, at least until the next morning, and so I tried not to get my hopes up. But I was so eager to see if there was indeed any asparagus left that I left my van door hanging open and dashed -- literally ran -- into the farm stand.
Ahhhhh...three bunches left standing upright in a couple of inches of water inside a big Country Crock margarine tub. I was shameless and bought all three ($1.50/bunch). It probably says something about my social life that I was ecstatic -- utterly over the moon -- to be holding three bunches of just-picked Baltimore County asparagus.
Drove straight home and as soon as I walked in the door I turned the oven on to 450 degrees F. Lined a baking pan with foil, plopped one bunch of asparagus on it, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled coarse sea salt and cracked some fresh pepper on it. Into the oven for 15 minutes, and into my mouth as soon as I could pick up the spears from the baking pan without burning my fingertips too badly...
I'll happily eat asparagus every day until Farmer Bills decides to rest his patch -- at least, every day I get there in time to buy. I was too late each day after Wednesday, arriving once the Country Crock bucket was tragically emptied by earlier buyers, but yesterday as I was leaving all forlorn Mr. Bills happened to be walking across the field. I hailed him to say hello and told him my tale of woe (No asparagus! Five days in a row!) and he very kindly went back in the field and picked two more bunches for me. He says it's a little slow right now with the cooler weather, but as soon as it warms up some there should be abundant asparagus for all.
Unless, of course, I get there first.