There comes a time in every person's life where they get excited about the very important uttering of three little words. They're not actually little; they're huge. They are words that are game-changers. Deal-breakers. Separately so much less than when combined, one after the other after the other.
They evoke happiness, and memories of sunshine, of social occasions, groups of friends sitting around drinking champagne. They point excitedly to the future, about what's coming, and what's about to happen. Laughter, emotion, parties - all wrapped up in one simple phrase.
Sometimes you know it's coming. You're expecting it. You're prepared. Sometimes you are just so happy getting on with life that it doesn't occur to you that they might be just around the corner.
And then bam! There they are. You might be in bed, you might be casually browsing the magazine section at the supermarket, you might be having a morning coffee at your favourite cafe, or dinner at a restaurant, staring lovingly at a menu over candlelight.
What are they?
Three little words. Three little words that have made my day.
Every spring for the last few years I have eagerly anticipated the arrival of those words on signs where I buy my vegetables.
With my flatmates all sufficiently and smugly coupled up and out for dinner, I rather enjoyed the break from feeling like a fifth wheel under my own roof. Feeling rather smug myself, I ate an entire plate of roasted asparagus for dinner this evening.
My favourite way to cook asparagus (which I shared last year and declared trying asparagus this way may just be the highlight of 2010 that you're scraping around for) is as follows:
- snap the woody ends off
- lay in a baking tray
- drizzle in olive oil
- sprinkle in salt and cracked pepper
- cook at about 200*C for about 20 minutes, giving it a shake part way through.
The tips should go a little crispy and the flavour intensifies. It's delicious. You can serve it on it's own, or with a few shavings of pecorino cheese, or a little balsamic drizzle. It can be a side dish, or the main event. Maybe try adding some crispy pancetta, or a squeeze of lemon. Lots of people like it steamed or blanched. It's great in salads. Served with poached eggs and/or hollandaise sauce is hugely popular too, from what I can gather. I have a great recipe for using it in pasta, where you thinly slice it longways and only let it cook in the heat of the spaghetti, and with lemon and parmesan and pinenuts.
It's one of those things that you really appreciate because it's only here for such a short time (like feijoas). Last summer we had many a barbecue on our sunny deck and asparagus featured at every one. I am very much looking forward to doing that again, and I know that some people hate it, but me? It's true love.
Welcome back into my life. I am excited.