Everywhere I look in Napa it is beautiful and green with punches of color everywhere. California poppies are blooming and the fruit trees are in blossom. Walking through the Napa Valley vineyards in the spring is invigorating and the visual contrast of the dark gnarly vines against bright emerald grass and yellow mustard flowers. Some mornings are still quite cold and I awake to the sounds of the fans blowing in the vineyards to keep the frost at bay. The fans sound like a 747 is landing in my garden. Hopefully it will warm up soon and the fans can sleep for the summer.
It's been a while since I've had time to drop you a note, I wasn't hibernating. This winter I was busy scouting out future trips to Europe. The first one is to La Combe in France from July 9-16. This will be an unforgettable week exploring the markets, hunting for truffles, and meeting the people who make some of the best food in France. http://cookingwithjulie.com/special-events. If you want to learn more about the trip come by my home Monday May 14 from 6-7:30 and learn more about this dream trip. And enjoy a glass of Champagne and hors d'oeuvres. To RSVP reply to this email.
I love fresh California asparagus now it is everywhere at the markets. Choose asparagus with firm shiny stalks, with no blemishes and closed tips. If it is loose select all the same size. For sauces select medium asparagus. The jumbo is great on the grill and the skinny ones are perfect for a stir fry.
Asparagus will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator. The fresher the asparagus the better the flavor. To prepare the asparagus cut the ends off and any white stems. Next I like to soak them in cold water for 15 minutes or so. Afterwards I place them in a glass with about an inch or so of water. If you need to keep them for a day or two; place them in the refrigerator in the glass loosely covered with a plastic bag or wrap the end of the stems with a damp paper towel and place in a plastic bag. Make sure the tips are dry before storing to keep them from deteriorating.
Here's one of my favorite asparagus recipes-asparagus pesto. It takes less than thirty minutes to make. Try either a sauvignon blanc or a crisp chardonnay to pair with this dish. For a quick simple salad shave asparagus with a vegetable peeler and then toss with your favorite olive oil, sea salt and a few drops of lemon. Shave some pecorino Toscano and sprinkle with a few toasted almonds.