The Fresh Spring Flavors of Local Asparagus and Bright Aromatic Whites

5/9/19 -

After a long, if somewhat mild winter, spring has finally arrived not only in the city but in the Green Markets. And while we enjoy the earthy virtues of squash and root vegetables, it's a pleasure to see all that green on the tables from the local farms. After the brief thrill of ramp season, asparagus has arrived and has us dreaming of the myriad of ways to enjoy its verdant pleasures and the wines to accompany its grassy deliciousness.

And what to do with asparagus? In Simple French Food, Richard Olney counsels simplicity: "It may be sacrilege to eat asparagus any other way than alone, barely cooked..." David Lillie concurs, although he has opted to grill the fat spears and dress them simply with olive oil, lemon juice and accompanied by the François Chidaine 2017 Montlouis-sur-Loire Les Bournais, whose lovely citrus and herbal notes work beautifully with the sweet flavors and light char of the preparation. With asparagus vinaigrette, Eben Lillie opts for the brisk and chalky freshness of Maison en Belles Lies 2017 Aligoté, a bright and stony expression of the grape with a host of orchard and citrus fruit flavors and bottled without SO2. Famed chef Alice Waters has an inspired simple recipe for thin asparagus spears with crispy julienned ginger root quickly sautéed in clarified butter in the excellent Chez Panisse Vegetables, which seems tailor-made for the textured and fainlty exotic Nikolaihof 2017 Gruner Veltliner Zwickl. Asparagus and eggs always makes for a felicitous pairing and the classic (and simple) Italian preparation of asparagus alla Milanese makes for a quick and sublime supper. Steamed asparagus dressed with olive oil and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano topped with a fried egg and plenty of freshly ground pepper, is wonderful paired with the deliciously savory Orto di Venezia 2016 Sant'Erasmo Bianco, advises Jamie Wolff. And while I wouldn't dream of gilding the lily, I love warm asparagus with a lemony hollandaise or better still sauce gribiche, a punchy mustard vinaigrette emboldened with chopped cornichons, capers, loads of fresh herbs, and seived hard-cooked eggs, offers a pleasing contrast between the bold flavors of the sauce and the green springtime simplicity of a plate of the just-warm spears. And there is no wine I'd prefer to drink with this classic dish more than an effusively aromatic and bone dry Muscat from Alsace, especially the lovely biodynamic Domaine Dirler-Cadé 2015 Muscat Grand Cru Saering from Bergholz. The exotic perfume and fine bead of minerality of the wine works wonderfully with the big flavors of the dish and harmonizes beautifully with the chopped herbs.

We sincerely hope you'll support your local farm stand or Green Market and drink seasonally with these fine wines.

John McIlwain

You have successfully subscribed!
This email has been registered