White Asparagus season has arrived in the Cape and I managed to find some at Raiths shop downstairs in the Gardens centre. The short season lasts only for a few weeks and I have learnt from the past to buy some as soon as I can, as it is so popular. I tried to find some information on this Cape varietal and came across an entry in the Encyclopaedia Londinensis published in 1810 which informed me that “the Afparagus declinatus.. is a native of the Cape of Good Hope” so this plant has been established here for a long time. It is the real symbol of the start of spring growth and tastes like it. We made the most delicious creamy, fondue style sauce with some tart flavoured Cantal cheese and a dash of Kirsch (Eau de Vie from black cherries) We mopped this up with thick pieces of toast and accompanied the dish with a glass of Emmanuelle Mellot’s Pouilly Fume, as the unique flinty flavour in this sauvignon blanc wine pairs well with the earthy flavour of the asparagus.
Ingredients for 4 guests:
- 4 to 6 spears of white asparagus per person
- 250g cantal entre deux grated finely obtainable from the French Market shop
- 30 ml Eau de vie de Kirsch made by Massenez from the French Market shop
- 250 ml Crème fraiche
- 4 eggs ( 2whole and 2 yolks)
- A couple of thick slices of sour dough baguette per person
- Salt and pepper to taste
A bottle of Pouilly Fume by Mellot from the Loire valley available at the French Market shop in Cape Town
- Thinly peel the outer coarse skin of the aparagus spears excepting tips
- Trim the hard end of the asparagus
- Lightly toast the baguette slices
- Boil the asparagus in salted water for about 15 minutes if young, 20 minutes if stalks quite hard
- Bring a saucepan of water to boil and reduce heat to gently simmering.
- Place crème fraiche, eggs, grated cheese, kirsche, salt and pepper to taste, in a heat proof bowl.
- Place bowl over the pot of gently simmering water, whisk all the ingredients in the bowl over this gentle heat until the sauce thickens about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Strain asparagus and place on top of the toasted baguette
- Ladle the sauce over the top of the asparagus.
- Grind some black pepper lightly over top of sauce and serve straight away while hot
Pair with a glass of Emmanuelle Mellot’s Pouilly Fume from the Loire valley