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Joe H

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I just returned from Koln, Heidelberg and the Schwarzwald (Black Forest). Literally. I had spargel three consecutive nights there: in a cream soup, in a salmon carpaccio, in an incredible risotto which included fried wild garlic leaves and thick shavings of Reggiano with white and green asparagus both bite size and with half spears (two consecutive nights-so good I went back!) and a simple plate of a dozen or so white spears topped with Hollandaise sauce.

There is nothing in America that compares to this unless it is imported from Europe, specifically Deutschland which is the best. Citronelle imports asparagus from Holland and Maestro imports it from the U. K. I've had several versions of it at Maestro and believe it to be the equal of the best I've had in Germany over the years. Citronelle, I have not had. Yet.

I've also tried cooking American white asparagus and adding sugar to the water. It helps. But it doesn't approach the best of Germany. Not even close. Unless a restaurant here is cooking with European asparagus-preferably white German asparagus-I really wouldn't waste my time. It's just not the same.

If only I could have smuggled some past the Customs beagle at Dulles today!!!!!

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One month ago on the MarionPlatz in Munich a half dozen farmers sold inch+ thick white Spargel from their stands. I bought several ten inch Churchill size stalks and ate them raw walking into their Metro. A week later I bought a large white Peruvian stalk at the Whole Foods in Fair Lakes. I took two bites and threw the rest of the stalk away.

BUT, there is a PURPLE asparagus (yes, PURPLE) that Whole Foods occasionally sells that is almost as sweet and tasty as German Spargel. I believe it is grown in California.

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Spargel means "asparagus" in German, it doesn't indicate white or green. White European asparagus normally come from Belgium in April and May, green asparaus go into season almost the same time, but come from many places. Amongst asparagus fanciers, fat ones are more desirable. There are more things you can do with them, like braise them in the oven with some chicken stock and a bunch of butter. In Washington, DC, the restaurant Old Europe has a Spargelfest every year in May.

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