Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A short but perfect season

In the far west of France, the region of Alsace has long been a source of geopolitical strife between France and Germany. While I would love recap a millennium of agony regarding what belongs to whom, which religion, whose language, and how it was ruled, it is far beyond the scope of this page.

Aside from the storybook beauty of Alsace, a culture vibrant with centuries of gifts bestowed from east, west, and south of itself, it makes remarkable wines both dry and sweet (Gerurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Pinto Gris, Reisling, Cremant d'Alsace, and Pinot Noir) and has a commitment to asparagus worth a trip in spring.

Restaurants spring up between April and June and the only item on the menu is asparagus, generally served with three sauces: Hollandaise, mayonnaise, and vinaigrette.

Alsatian's will drink only one wine along side their prized asparagus; well-chilled dry muscat. Whether or not you go in person, or recreate this beautiful meal at home, I suggest you follow suit; locals know their pairings.

Asparagus is imported for fine purveyors and restaurants only during the legitimate season from the west of France. Check the tags at the grocery store: Although Mexico and other locales produce white asparagus (achieved by growing in darkened boxes, rather than in the mounded nutrient-rich soil of western France), they are generally an inferior product and it is worth, even if it is a splurge to experience this meal, to get the truly tasty asparagus of France. The season is only from late April until June 22 each year, so be quick.

For more on the history of Alsace and the French and German populations therein, read here.


A Flair for Vintage Decor said...

I absolutely love asparagus -- thanks for the background on it!!

pretty pink tulips said...

Spring - asparagus --- the two just go together!

Anonymous said...

You are bringing back beautiful memories of the Alsace region. When I was stationed in Germany, I took a trip to the area and loved it. I lvoed the wines and asparagus with hollandaise sauce. delicious. Thanks for sharing.

pve design said...

You sure know how to make my heart crave those delectable white asparagus paired with a dry crisp muscat. We visited 2 summers ago and the Alsace region was one of our family hi-lights of he trip.

I think I feel an illustration coming on of a lovely plate full of heavenly white asparagus.

My brother was punished for requesting more of the as-paragus at our dinner table, thinking he was funny.
Not funny for some. He had a spanking. Nonetheless, I still love them.

little augury said...

How interesting, and of the Need to Know, My mother's family originates from there. pgt

cdclaycomb said...

What a lovely post about one of my favorite veggies of Spring!

I grow my own asparagus and every spring we cover a section of the patch heavily with straw to produce the prized white spears.

You truly haven't tasted asparagus until you have had it picked moments before it is cooked. Those who claim not to like it are amazed when they have it, green or white, that is freshly picked.


What a lovely post! I didn't know about the muscat wine pairing...I will definitely use is with my pitiful WholeFoods-purchased asparagus. LOL

LPC said...

I just ate this in Belgium. Apparently it's on every menu this time of year.

tintin said...

I love asparagus. Especially wrapped in prosciutto with a balsamic vinegar reduction. Why wasn't I offered this when I was seven?


Oh my goodness, I LOVE Alsace!!! We had the most amazing trip through Alsace a few years ago - the food, the wine, the landscape, the little towns, it was all just perfect!