Market Mondays – Asparagus

It’s one of the temptations of winter. Bunches of asparagus from Peru, tidily displayed in the supermarket aisle. They’re never as tasty as local, but when you’re desperate for a bit of something spring-like, they certainly seem to fit the bill. But now that Ontario asparagus is everywhere, it only seems right to make it a star on our tables.

Related to the lily, asparagus is a flowering spring vegetable that is native to Europe, northern Africa and eastern Asia. Growing from a crown planted in sandy soil, asparagus spears can grow 10 inches in a 24-hour period under ideal conditions. The spears will grow for 6 to 7 weeks with pickings about every 4 to 5 days, until the spears are finally left to grown into a fluffy fern with red berries.

When purchasing asparagus, look for firm, fresh tips. Thin spears are not necessarily better tasting than thick ones. Remove the woody ends by grasping the asparagus at the very end and the very tip and bending it – it will snap off where the woodiness begins. Keep asparagus clean, cold and covered when storing. Asparagus is normally served as a side dish and can easily be frozen on canned. A traditional serving method is on toast, either creamed or cooked and doused in butter. Asparagus is one of the few food  items that etiquette books permit to be eaten with the fingers.

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Changing It Up

This past Thursday night, 250 lucky people trekked through the snow to attend Foodshare’s Recipe For Change fundraising event. I say lucky because the event sold out and many people found themselves on a waiting list, but also because some of Toronto’s top chefs were on hand with delicious treats for guests to enjoy.

The event raised funds for the Field to Table Schools program which brings food literacy back to students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12.

Held in Foodshare’s warehouse at their Croatia Street offices (the same space where the weekly Good Food Boxes get packed), the room was simply but elegantly decorated, with plenty of seats (no, really, there’s usually never enough seats or tables at these things – I always threaten to come wearing a toolbelt to hold my camera, notebook, wineglass and cutlery) and plenty of good stuff to eat. Our only minor complaint was the lighting, which, while it made the room look fantastic, was not so photo-friendly. As such, I don’t have photos of everything that was offered (the full menu is available on the Foodshare website), but hopefully these will inspire readers to support both Foodshare and the great work they do as well as the many chefs and restaurants who donated their time and product to this event.

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