I made a quick and symbolic trip to the opening of the St. Paul Farmer’s Market last weekend. Quick because it was really cold and windy and symbolic because it was really cold and windy. The brave vendors included one selling what I assumed were hydroponic tomatoes and cucumbers. I also walked by an untended card table of parsley plants. A harbinger of warmer weather? I hope so.
I was leaving town to visit some relatives and I wanted some cheese for my uncle who introduced me to cheese-that-is-not-shrink-wrapped. Mary from LoveTree https://www.lovetreefarmstead.com/home.htm was handing out samples of her buttery jersey cow cheese. It contrasted well with the frosty morning and I knew my uncle would appreciate it.
I also bought a couple of thick pork chops from Prairie Pride Farm https://www.prairiepridefarm.com/. I’m a big fan of their pork chops, ribs, sausage, bacon, brats and well, most of the cuts they sell. Last January, I had trouble finding pork caul fat for a dinner and the owner, Dawn, helped me get some on short notice from her butcher.
What I knew I wouldn’t find, but what I’m ready for is some local asparagus. I’ll have to be content in the next few weeks to think about cooking asparagus. When it’s extremely fresh, I like it simply cooked with a little oil or butter and salt on it. The best asparagus I’ve ever had - the standard to which I compare all other asparagus - was cut from my wife’s grandfather’s farm a few hours before we ate it. It had a vegetal quality similar to what I’ve encountered with the freshest non-hybrid sweet corn. It is an elusive flavor that disappears soon after cutting.
Once it’s in the market, I’ll make some sauces, including aioli, for it. I’ll put it in a stir fry, an omelet, and I’ll toss it with homemade pasta. When morel mushrooms are in season, I’ll combine the two for a wonderful seasonal treat.
What is your favorite cooking method for asparagus – steaming, boiling, grilling, sautéing or another method? What ingredients do you find go particularly well with it?