In the days leading up to our departure from NYC, Mike and I were keeping a very close eye on Lucy’s Greenmarket Report to monitor the anticipated arrival of asparagus at Union Square. We were hoping we could get our hands on some before the move, and one recent day we mentioned our asparagus watch on Twitter. One friend was a little confused as to why we were making such a fuss – after all, asparagus is in supermarkets year-round, isn’t it? She’s right, of course, but as Mike replied to her with a smile, “we’re snobby locavores.”
Now, I don’t know about the “snobby” part (and I’d hope we’re not actually snobs), but the whole exchange really made me realize how much our way of eating has changed over the last couple of years. Buying supermarket asparagus doesn’t even occur to me anymore, even in the dead of winter when I’m desperate for it. It just tastes better in the springtime, when it’s in season and grown close to home, and I’m happy to wait for it and then indulge until I can’t bear looking at another fat green stalk.
Though we moved away before our favorite New York area farmers brought their asparagus to market, we scored a big bag of Rhode Island asparagus at the market at AS220 on Saturday. I pulled out the thickest ones for grilling Saturday evening, figuring I’d save the rest for a meatless Monday dinner. By Monday evening, the warm, sunny weather we enjoyed all weekend had turned to wind and rain, so something rich and creamy was in order.
I chopped up my remaining asparagus spears and some fresh chanterelles (sorry, not local), and sauteed them in a bit of butter. I seasoned them with fresh thyme and gently stirred them into a pot of my basic risotto, adding about half a cup of creme fraiche and some finely grated Pecorino Romano off the heat to finish the dish.
The mushrooms were a lovely foil for the crisp-tender asparagus, and the risotto was a wonderful carrier for both. As the weather warms up and asparagus season continues, I look forward to lighter and simpler preparations, but this was a fine way to renew my acquaintance with an old friend.
(Interesting reading on local asparagus here.)