Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Perfect Spring Lunch

It's finally spring in New York. That two weeks in early April when all of the sudden it was 75 degrees and the cherry trees blossomed early and everyone wore shorts, no, that wasn't spring. That was more about the great floods that will surely come my friends, as the weather all over the world gets weirder and weirder. Anyway, now, it's spring. Temperatures are in the high 50's to early 60's and it always feels like it's about to rain, which hopefully it will. It's supposed to rain in April, for goodness sake.

My favorite farmer Bill Maxwell is back from hibernation and once again selling his beautiful and delicious produce at the market. He said that he's had almost no rain and that his yields aren't what they usually are, so far. This morning I got there early enough to grab a nice handful of asparagus, my first of the season. And a box of Tello's Farms eggs. And then at Almondine Bakery I grabbed what I think is the best baguette in NYC. I sense a really good lunch coming...

Nothing innovative here, this is classic spring pleasure. Broke the stems off a handful of asparagus, and peeled the bottoms a little because I was feeling fancy. Dropped them in boiling water for about 2 minutes, maybe less. Meanwhile, water simmered in a pot to poach the egg. Whisked a little good olive oil into some Fernando de Castilla Sherry vinegar, you know, to drizzle over the top of the egg after placing atop a mound of blanched asparagus. Good butter warming on the counter since the morning, so it's nice and soft when spreading time comes.

A touch of vinegar in the simmering water right before dropping in the egg, swirl the water a bit to create a vortex in an attempt to keep the poaching egg whites in a manageable oval shape, as opposed to spreading out uncontrollably in the pot. Poach for maybe 2 minutes, just long enough for the whites to set. Salt, pepper, drizzle on a spoonful of Sherry vinaigrette.

So delicious, it's a little ridiculous. I like to poke the yolk and let it run out, to try to get a little bit with each asparagus bite. But don't worry - a baguette is the perfect tool for swabbing any Sherry vinaigrette-infused egg yolk that you might miss.

What to drink with this spring feast? Popular wisdom is to complain about how hard it is to pair wine with asparagus. I think that's malarkey. I can think of several wines right this second that I would have enjoyed very much with this dish - Fino Sherry, any sort of sparkling wine, Chablis, any Jura wine, white or red, and so on.

Today, with my first real spring lunch, I drank a rosé from Provence, the 2011 Domaine Les Fouques Côtes de Provence Rosé Cuvée de L'Aubigue, $14, Imported by Fruit of the Vines. I bought this wine while speaking on the phone with David Lillie, one of the owners of Chambers Street Wines. I called about an order I placed, including a few bottles of a popular Provence rosé that I buy every year. David said "You know, that wine is yeasted, it smells and tastes like what they want you to think rosé smells and tastes like. If you like the pale rosés you might enjoy this other wine by Les Fouques. It's quite good."

For David, "quite good" is astoundingly high praise.

"Okay, I'll try it. How much is it?" I asked.

"Fourteen dollars," David said. The wine I was going to buy costs over 20% more than that. Just another thing to love about Chambers Street Wines - they'll steer you to the wine they think you should try, even if it's less expensive. 

Can I tell you, the wine is great. It's mostly Cinsault and Grenache, with little bits of things like Syrah and Rolle (aka Vermentino). It has very pretty berry aromas, a metallic kind of mineral tone, and with some time open it has a very lovely earthy smell too - something that I think is part of what is wiped out of too many inexpensive rosés in an attempt to enhance their fruity character. The wine tastes great, it's balanced and pretty and very refreshing. It's got a lot of structure too, for an inexpensive little Provence rosé. David Lillie (who I think direct imports this wine) - you rock.

If you can think of a better early spring lunch, I'm listening.


Anonymous said...

Fine work, looks tasty.

And very characteristic story of David.


franchise brisbane said...

Interesting story! Food looks tempting :)

Erin @ Revel Cellars said...

Thanks for the review, I can'r wait to try it. I love rose. I just had a great one from 2 Lads Winery in Michigan.

Lily-Elaine Hawk Wakawaka said...

I love the elegance, the simplicity of morning and a weekend midday. This all reads easy and delicious. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Lovely and simple recipe. I used it this evening to compliment a menu that included Paul Bara 2002 (Millesime followed by the Rouge). Wonderful!