Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Today if you want to really enjoy the asparagus season it is mainly found in organic food outlets although advanced crowns can be purchased at all good nurseries and it is quite easy to grow. Real asparagus will still have a tough inedible end, but nature has given us an obvious clue as they snap at exactly the point where they start to be most edible.


A very short window of about six weeksfor real asparagus. Not that stuff of uniform shape and size and colour a cloned effigy of the real thing, but the bumpy odd irregular sized, coloured as if a mad artist has taken to it with a brush. A palette that ranges from creamy white tinges with almost iridescent purple, and bright, bright leaf green to just green, to the creamy yellow white of real white asparagus, hidden under terracotta cloches to remove all green colour.

Real seasonal asparagus is a miracleof taste and texture a memory of the beginnings of my own culinary career and when I saw asparagus growing for the very first time. Collecting eggs in suburban Felixtowe I noticed on the other side of OG road on the slope of an empty block were a million serpents’ heads peering from the ground, a mighty field of asparagus. It was a discovery that led too much more than asparagus a miraculous, magical secret garden hidden by one of those old green hedges, loved and tended by Italian immigrants who turned out to grow everything I wanted, and could not buy.

They grew just about everything but especially, fennel, radicchio, artichokes, beans, broad beans, garlic and much, much more, all of the ingredients that chefs today can happily take for granted. It is not, I believe that we chefs of the 80s created so much worth remembering, our legacy has been the myriad of ingredients we strove to make readily available. Our shame is that we allowed the loss of seasons because so few young chefs have an association with their growers.

It became a journey to be enjoyed each week because from each journey I returned with just picked produce that no other chef in Adelaide, at that time, had to put on their table. It was a journey even more improved in the first weeks of October and late summer because it went further to collect the strawberries from Joe Pinneri and his family in upper Payneham. So advanced in the early 80s they had a ladybird, nature’s bio–indicator, for their logo, picked their strawberries ripe and sold out at double the price everyone else was charging. Now there’s a novel opportunity for a grower to resurrect a great and almost forgotten idea.
The temptation to jealously guard this secret garden and Joe’s strawberries was overridden not just by my admiration for their skill at growing anything, but most of all their sincere delight that someone else shared their passion. They didn’t just share their produce but their cultural cooking heritage, ideas that quickly found their way into my own restaurant…AO

Try a soup so simple someone who has never cooked before could easily make it. For six generous serves, fry a large chopped onion in butter with salt and pepper, add 1500ml vegetable or chicken stock and bring to the boil. Keeping the tips and stalks separate chop three bunches of asparagus. Add the stalks and cook until just tender, then add half of the tips and cook until they are tender. Blitz with a stick mixer, add the remaining tips and stir through 300ml cream. Add a little freshly grated nutmeg, taste and adjust seasonings and served with a big pile of croutons.

Add asparagus to grilled fish and drizzle with a simple butter sauce made by emulsifying equal quantities of fresh strained lemon juice, white wine reduction and butter on a hot flame.

Serve it with scrambled eggs, laced with fresh dill, chopped chives and lashing of Springs’ smoked salmon. If you’re feeling really decadent add a tablespoon or two of salmon roe.

Simple but utterly delicious Sarah Turner’s (Botanic Garden Restaurant, Adelaide South Australia) poached egg, ham and asparagus.

Personal favourite asparagus with puff pastry and Sauce Hollandaise!

for the best ever Hollandaise recipe…CLICK HERE