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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Asparagi!

It’s that time of the year again…

...when, here in Trentino, you can enjoy that fantastic local delicacy, white asparagi, cultivated in sandy soil and expressing a very interesting ethereal, sweet and sour, mineral flavour.

The most famous variety come from Zambana - but we begin to think that they command an unjustified ‘brand’ mark-up on other equally good varieties…

We buy ours from our own trusted supplier Giuseppe

whom we introduced to you last year

These ones

come from Romagnano (another well-known area along the Wine road (Strada del Vino)) and are marvellous. We spare you a detailed ‘recipe’. Just boil them and then add some form of –preferably peppered to our taste- eggy and/or cheesy condiment/accompaniment, and you’ll be happy. Often we cook the top half this way and we finely chop the bottom half to make a pasta sauce. But really, their taste is so delicate that even with just a touch of olive oil and salt they are a treat.

Not that our beloved Giuseppe lacks the slightly more ‘herby’ diferently coloured varieties: look at these beauties:

The asparagus season is short – yes it can be prolonged a bit for commercial reasons, but the quality peak is a fleeting moment of magic. Let two weeks go by, and it will be the onset of a tragic decline. So we go around to see what restaurants do with them…

We visited again Costa Salici, partly to check whether the potential we spotted a couple of years ago has been translated into some concrete progress. Alas, no. The same as last time: some great dishes and great ideas coupled with some sloppy execution and poor materials. No matter. Let’s see their

Asparagus Menu (€44)

Tartare di trota fume’ con carpaccio di asparagi bianchi croccanti (you can understand without translation, right?)


This was a fully satisfying amuse bouche, deftly playing on textures and the successful marrgiage between the delicate flavours of the trout and the pleasantly acidic asparagus.

Vellutata di asparagi verdi con gnocchetti di pesce persico (perch)


The vellutata in itself was OK. The gnocchetti with pesce persico were an absurdity, in that the fish flavour was impossible to detect.

Cavatelli con moscardini (baby-octopus), capesante (scallops) ed asparagi


Ouch. One advice: if you offer noble seafood, either use top quality, or take it off the menu. And do not serve poor pasta.

Asparagi bianchi e gamberi (prawns) in tempura giapponese:



The tempura is light, well-made. But (ouch) again see above on the seafood. Actually, though, the surprise bit of battered seabass was excellent.

Gelato agli asparagi con passata di fragole:



And this was the only stroke of genius and the only really, really rewarding and beautifully served dish. We wondered if they have a separate chef de patisserie here. Anyway, it’s good to end on a high note…

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4 comments:

Gourmet Chick said...

Mmmm white asparagus - sometimes you can get it at Borough market in London as well

Man-Woman said...

Interesting...we didn't know as in the last few years we have always spent the 'asparagus period' away from London - do you know where they come from?

Helen Yuet Ling Pang said...

I love white asparagus! I grew up on the stuff in Germany, but have hardly seen it fresh here in England.

Man-Woman said...

Welcome Helen!
Yes in England it seems to be rare, but as Gourmet Chick says above Borough Market is the place to go.

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