After exhausting the produce provided by the winter months, I always await the arrival of spring in eager anticipation. Finally, the first deliveries of forced rhubarb from the Yorkshire Triangle appear and I know that asparagus, broad beans, peas and morels won’t be far behind.
Asparagus is one of the most rewarding spring ingredients to work with. I tend to start with producers in the Luberon, moving onto Pertuis and then to the Wye valley on the border of England and Wales. I favour the Pertuis variety above all others; it has a pure and intense flavour that really lingers on the palate.
This dish comprises layers of asparagus prepared in three different ways. Stems cooked in a little butter under a cartouche (to keep the flavour intact) combined with thinly sliced shavings of the raw vegetable above the purée made from all the trimmings.
The trio is finished with a beurre noisette and vin jaune hollandaise. The oxidised wine keeps the fatty brown butter in check and, along with with confit lemon, balances the dish with a wonderful acidity. The final touch is a scattering of crushed roasted hazelnuts from Piedmont and a few slices of the last Perigord truffles – a fitting way to mark the turning of the seasons and to celebrate the coming of spring.
Tom Kemble, Bonhams Restaurant (London, UK)