A green letter day
It's been an exciting day in Orkney, thanks to the arrival of a far smaller and easier-to-miss object than the giant liner we had yesterday. I'm talking asparagus. To be exact, the first British asparagus of the season.
Of course, you can get asparagus all year round, flown in from Peru. But apart from the air miles, there's also the downside that it tends to have a fibrous texture and not much flavour. So we're always excited at the start of May each year when the new season British asparagus arrives. (By the way, the best asparagus we ever tasted was actually Scottish: grown in Fife , bought in Fife, eaten in Fife. But that never seems to reach Orkney. What we have instead is this lovely, glowing-green-and-purple, thick-as-forced-rhubarb stuff from Herefordshire.)
To make a feast out of this, you need just two more ingredients. Here's the first one:
Butter. And here's the final ingredient:
Salt. In fact, if you use salted butter you may not even need to add salt. A feast with only two ingredients! Real fast food!
METHOD: Heat a ridged pan or frying pan till very hot. Set in asparagus. Leave there till slightly blackened and just tender, turning once. Remove to plate. Add butter and sprinkle of salt. Eat.
And to drink? Well, as it happens, this month's star wine, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, is an ideal match. Sauvignon is often said to have asparagus aromas, because of its methoxypyrazines. (There's a word for you! Drop that into conversation and impress your friends!) Methoxypyrazines and thiols are the two naturally-occurring compounds that give, respectively 'green' aromas like asparagus, green pepper and cut-grass, and tropical fruit aromas like pineapple and lychee.
They both happen to develop abundantly in New Zealand, and particularly in Marlborough, helping explain the irresistible aromatics of Sauvignon Blanc from that area. Some SB's lean more towards the green end, some towards the tropical fruit end: the best have a balance of both. Like this glass of Fiona Turner's Tinpot Hut Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017...
Cheers! British asparagus season doesn't last much longer than this month's New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc promo, so let's enjoy both while we can!