Psyched for White Asparagus
- Jeff Shore Apr 25, 2001 03:17 PM
Hans Rockenwagner's article in LA Times today about White Asparagus has me completely ready for a pound or three of asparagus. Sure, I can try to make it myself, but..well, anybody have any recommendations for good/great White Asparagus dishes at local restaurants?
At Ca Dario in Santa Barbara they make a dish that consists of asparagus wrapped in proscuitto, grilled and then drizzled with balsamic vinegar and laced with shaved parmesan. White used when in season.
Should you change your mind and decide to cook albino asperges at home, do not buy the nasty stuff sold at Ralphs. Organically grown white asparagus has been available at Wednesday's farmers market in Santa Monica (along 2nd and Arizona) for the last few weeks. Look for the lovely stand just west of 3rd Street on the north side of Arizona. The produce comes from a tiny farm praised by Alice Waters, Wendell Berry and me.
Go to Rock, his restaurant in Marina del Rey. We went there last weekend. My mother flipped over the white asparagus soup. Had she not been full, she probably would have ordered it for dessert! And, yes, the restaurant is great too!
Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. On Thursday night, my wife and I went to Rock, Hans Rockenwager's "other" restaurant.
At the bottom of the menu, it says "Ask about our White Asparagus Specials." The special for the evening was quite simple - boiled spears with a potato/sauerkraut vinaigrette, topped with shavings of black forest ham. The waitress informed us that they had 300 pounds of asparagus flown in from Germany, and that their cost was about $1 per spear. As this is the beginning of the season, they are starting with simple recipes - and she implied that things would get fancier as time went on. Further, they are considering their prices - $8.50 for the described dish - as essentially "loss leaders," designed to attract people into the restaurant.
Regardless, we loved the appetizer. As I noted, this was an entirely new experience for us. We could easily have eaten a pound of the asparagus each, and a bowl of the savory sauce as soup. (And our dog really loved the black forest ham!)
We had a glass of Berger "Gruner Veltliner" - apparently the most planted white varietal in Germany (who knew?) Cheap and, as Mr. Rockenwagner said in his article, it went fabulously well with the Asparagus. The two combined for a sort-of "sour" (in a good way) taste. Very nice.
(The rest of our dining experience was quite pleasant. The restaurant was mostly empty - a big plus for us! - and our waitress was strikingly genuine and empathetic. My wife observed that the restaurant is decorated like a gigantic diorama, right down to the balsawood "cookoo house" sitting in the middle. We also had a ciabatta "pizza" topped with morels and hoisin sauce, and a fritto misto salad - with fried lemon peel(!), shredded parmasean, and a salty dressing - that rivaled the white asparagus. We'll definitely return; they seem to have a great happy hour, with dishes ranging from $1.50 to $4, and we've got to try that White Asparagus Soup.)
Now, to try cooking the Asparagus on our own...