This morning I woke up and thought: “I’m going to walk to the markets, buy whatever is in season, fresh, and locally grown- and just make something delicious.” And that’s what I love about France. Whether you’re in Paris, or a tiny regional village somewhere, the local growers markets will always be there to supply the best quality produce- and most importantly- it’s LOCAL, and IN SEASON, meaning you’re supporting local farmers and businesses, with the knowledge that your produce is ultra fresh and didn’t travel half way across the continent before you bought it.
A sure sign of spring, the markets right now display a stunning array of all things bright and green. These impressive, plump, deep purple and green asparagus spears instantly called my name. Sitting right next to a basket of fresh sweet peas in their pods, with the local vendor positioned right opposite the stand of my favourite cheese man- it was an instant match made in heaven. With the best produce, freshest ingredients and dash of inspiration, you simply can’t go wrong.
The process of preparing my yummy lunch today made me realise how much cooking is actually like a short love affair – in this case mine was no more than a spring fling: It starts with the usual chemistry of checking each other out at the market, them being impressed enough with what you find to take it home, admiring your new possession, photographing it to capture it’s beauty, imagining all the wonderful things you’re going to do to it, carefully preparing for the big moment, making sure all is well placed, aesthetically balanced, and then savouring every last moment of your time together…
Of course that’s the romanticised version- but since I’m in France, I figure I’m allowed. Hmmm… does that mean those who are handy in the kitchen make better lovers? Now there’s a debate of it’s own! Drop your comments in the box at the end of this post, I’m keen to hear what my readers have to say about this…
Ok, that’s probably enough of the food porn… now here’s that recipe:
Crisp Asparagus and Sweet Pea Salad with Poached Egg and Fresh Goats Curd
1 dozen fresh asparagus spears
250 grams fresh goats curd cheese (or similar depending on availability)
2 handfulls de-podded sweet peas
Extra virgin olive oil
Fleur de sel
Fresh cracked black pepper
2 free range eggs
Fine shavings of Italian Cacioricotta cheese
Cut asparagus spears at approximately 4/5th of their length on a 45 degree angle- if you bend the spear, the place where it snaps is where you should but it. Discard fibrous ends.
De-pod sweet peas and discard outer pods. Prepare two pots with boiling water. In one pot add salt and quickly blanch the asparagus and peas until just cooked and crisp. Remove and drain immediately. In the other, poach 2 eggs till medium-runny in boiling water with white vinegar.
Return asparagus spears to pan and coat lightly in olive oil with a pinch of fleur de sel.
Arrange fresh goats cheese and poached egg in centre of plate. Place peas around them and individually place asparagus spears on top.
To serve: add fine shavings of Cacioricotta cheese, fleur de sel and cracked black pepper over the asparagus.
Serve with a crisp white wine.