Asparagus and duck eggs


It’s an age old adage that still rings true – the simplest things are more often than not the best. Sometimes I worry I sound a bit like a broken record with this – but great ingredients need so little doing to them.

As we head into summer (ish!) the fullest crop of English fruit and vegetables come to market and with them our cooking becomes easier, simpler and lighter.

Sadly a favourite of mine, asparagus, is nearing the end of its season, but the sweetest slender British stems are still available, no thicker than a little finger.

One of my favourite ways of enjoying them before they disappear is with Spanish ham, the stalks quickly blanched and the ham crisped in a pan – a scattering of olive oil and a turn or two of the pepper mill are all you need.

Another tried and tested lunchtime special is to griddle them for a couple of minutes until they char in places; I cut a good piece of sourdough, drizzle it with olive oil and griddle this, too. Lastly I fry a duck egg until the white is just set, the edge bubbling and crisp and the yolk is like silken amber. A simple, perfect, beautiful plate.

I am rather fond of their nickname too, sparrow grass – a corruption of the word asparagus.

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