“For the last couple of springs, I would encounter mountains and mountains of the stuff, swollen and pale – looking like a sick relative of my beloved green asparagus and turn my nose up at them. I would scan the corners of the stand, be it at the supermarket or an outdoor market until I would spot a few bundles of the green stuff, usually imported from Greece or Spain.
What made me change my mind? A plate of asparagus, boiled potatoes and schnitzel at the Ritz. Ravenous after my Athens flight with EasyJet (why did Stelios call it ‘Easy’ I wonder, is it tongue in cheek? Is it so that when you are ranting like a mad person in your head, about the injustice of paying the same price you would pay a ‘civilized’ carrier, one that doesn’t make you queue ad infinitum, the word ‘easy’ can continually bait you? Yes, I would fly another carrier, any other carrier, except wouldn’t you know it ‘easy’ jet is the only one that continues to fly to Athens from Berlin.)
A meal at the Ritz will make most things palatable, they even gussy up the lemon half with a bit of yellow gauze (to keep the pips from dropping out when you squeeze the lemon, since you ask). €30 is what that plate of food cost. ‘Beelitz’ asparagus is what it said on the menu. Beelitz and its asparagus seems to be to Berliners what Yorkshire and its rhubarb seems to be to Londoners. I have journeyed to Yorkshire and strained my ears with the rest of the rhubarb tourists listening for the rhubarb squeak. It seemed reasonable to me that I should travel to Beelitz and see white asparagus in the stalk.After spending some time poking around on www.beelitzerspargel.de, I settled on Jacobs Hof. I bundled hubby and daughter off into the car and 45 minutes later we were staring at a 2 story inflatable asparagus spear with a big grin pasted on its face. We made our way to the restaurant and were asked if we had a reservation – ‘Eh…? To eat asparagus in the middle of nowhere?” I thought? But the lady wasn’t off her rocker, it was buzzing in there. True most people were over 70 but they were having a grand old-time. They found us a table. We ordered asparagus with potatoes and ham (€12.50) with hollandaise sauce. The asparagus was dreamy, the potatoes were incredibly flavourful and the ham was, good sliced ham. The hollandaise sauce was from a carton, I think it almost always is here, except for at the Ritz but even there it was more like a mayonnaise than an hollandaise. To be honest, even that didn’t sully the asparagus. It was good. So good that I bought some and made them with homemade hollandaise a few days later. Like most farms in and around Berlin, this one has a play area for children complete with sand and a bouncy castle and a petting zoo with ponies, pigs, goats and even a couple of peacocks. I am still buying green asparagus, it’s more versatile than white and one of my favourite ways to prepare it is grilled, but I no longer give the white stuff wide birth. Which makes me think, disliking something is more about ignorance than anything else.