I’m not quite sure whether it’s a blessing or a curse to be able to access the English papers so easily on-line these days. It makes it hard to resist the temptation to have a peek and therefore harder to cut off.
However, it does at least mean I can easily bring you my weekend wine recommendations and today I’ve been inspired by Mark Hix’s fresh and original asparagus recipes in the Independent. (Funnily enough we haven’t been eating much asparagus in Paris over the last couple of days but more of that next week . . .)
A fresh tasting near-raw starter (the asparagus is lightly blanched) served with a ponzu (Japanese citrus) sauce. This is one of those dishes when it would be sensational if you found exactly the right match which could be quite off-key (a crisp, genuinely dry German or Alsace Riesling or a Grüner Veltliner would be good, I suspect) But playing it safe, and given the quality of the ingredients, I’m going to suggest a young minerally premier cru Chablis.
Deep-fried asparagus in cider batter with spring herbs
Beer makes a great batter but I haven’t tried cider. Sounds good though I'm not sure I'd be drinking cider with the dish. Mark recommends champagne or sparkling wine as an accompaniment which would certainly work. But there’s a wonderful herby mayonnaise with the dish with which I think I’d really want to drink a classic Loire or other minerally Sauvignon Blanc such as a Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé.
Risotto with asparagus and St George’s mushrooms
Risotto is one of the most wine-friendly of dishes but is that still the case if it’s made with asparagus? Yes, I think so if it also includes mushrooms, a generous amount of butter, parmesan and cream, four other wine-friendly ingredients which would lead me to a classy Chardonnay - probably something like a Chassagne or Puligny-Montrachet. (You’ll have to excuse the French bias of these recommendations. It’s impossible to think of anything else in Paris!)
Asparagus with red wine butter
Asparagus and red wine? Yes, on occasion especially, again, if there’s butter involved. I think I’d want to drink a Cabernet Franc-based Loire red with this dish such as a Saumur-Champigny or a Chinon which should chime in with the herbaceousness of this tricky-to-match vegetable.Incidentally the French still persist in recommending dry (or rather not so dry) Muscat with asparagus. I just don't get it, myself.