Every day I am constantly so amazed at the beauty of this wonderful, strange and magnificent world that we live in. I always make it a point to look out from my 19th floor condo balcony, where I can gaze for a long time at the vast sky, with clouds that seem to endlessly stretch across it, and to the buildings and houses below me and beyond. It makes me feel so small… such a tiny part of this massive world! And it also reminds me of how everything – how life – has it’s rhythm: the cycle of seasons, of change, arriving, departing, coming to life and fading away. And still, the world keeps turning.
It’s spring, which means it’s asparagus season – the first crop of the spring harvest! I’ve always loved asparagus, which is slightly bitter, sweet and very earthy compared to broccoli. Such a unique and delicious flavour! I was lucky enough to be invited by The Foodies Group and Asparagus Farmers of Ontario to join a full day tour on the Asparabus, an initiative that aims to help raise awareness on supporting local farmers. I try to buy local as much as possible, and as a home cook, I love how you really can taste the freshness of the product, not to mention feel good about supporting Canada!
First stop was the Welsh Brothers Farm, where I got to see first-hand how asparagus is harvested on their field, which was around 6 years old. I found out that the spears grew directly up from the ground (they thrive in sandy soil), and they are harvested by hand with a chef’s knife. This labour intensive process is the reason why asparagus is a bit more expensive than other vegetables. I even got to break off a spear and try it right on the field, so delicious and fresh!
Inside the production facility, each asparagus spear is sorted by the workers, with the help of a camera that determines the color, thickness, and is then divided into different spear sizes. I was told that the thickest size is great for the BBQ, so definitely pick those up instead of the thinner ones (which are better for salads)!
We visited the Bonnieheath Estate Lavender & Winery next, a beautiful and lush property full of trees and a huge vineyard. This is where we had an outstanding, delicious farm to table lunch featuring local asparagus, prepared by Chef Tracy Winkworth from the Liaison College Southcoast Chef School.
The feast was all a blur (I was in heaven) – and I was so impressed at how Chef Tracy integrated asparagus into dishes in really unique ways from risotto, to chimichurri, pesto and even guacamole. She also made some BBQ ribs, with strawberry as an ingredient in the BBQ sauce… WOW!
I am so grateful to have met such passionate farmers – how lucky they must feel to be eating such a fresh vegetable right from the field! I was able to try some asparagus from their farm which I cooked at home, and it was so flavourful, tender and extremely juicy! You should definitely buy local and support Ontario asparagus farmers any chance you can get!