Monday, 12 April 2010

Muskets and Spears

It's my birthday! Well it was on Saturday actually and I spent it climbing up two beacons in Brecon without a cloud in the sky - a rare experience. I also had a conversation with someone who does Civil War re-enactments and had just bought a new musket. Always wondered who does those things.

So this week's Food of the Week ISN'T cheese!!!

The weather has finally warmed up and everything green is sprouting which means that the first of the English asparagus is now appearing in the shops n.b. make sure you buy British and not the inferior Spanish or Peruvian options!

So this week's Food of the Week IS asparagus!!!

Supposedly the highlight of the foodie calendar, the asparagus season usually lasts from St Georges Day through to midsummer but I've given you a week's notice to start preparing. In England, we eat the green asparagus but in continental Europe (particularly France, Germany and Netherlands) they eat the thicker white asparagus (n.b. ours is nicer). They eat it with tons of hollandaise sauce, pancakes, hard boiled eggs and ham. For those countries, sales of hollandaise sauce go crazy for two months - just because of the asparagus season or 'Spargelgala' .

Back in Blighty, we treat our asparagus spears like precious jewels and tend to eat them with parma ham or with butter and parmesan. Maybe even in a risotto with fresh summer peas as they come into season.

However you eat your asparagus, two things are certain.

1) it's very good for you as it's low in calories and has lots of vitamins
2) it's a diuretic and within 15-30 minutes of consumption, it makes your pee smell. Now some people say that this only affects some of the population BUT I HAVE CHECKED with Wikipedia and apparently this phenomenon affects EVERYONE but only 22% of the population have the ability to smell the  'odorous compounds'. Now you know!

Where can I find good British asparagus?

The home of British asparagus is in the Vale of Evesham. That's just round the corner from Broadway in the Cotswolds. The asparagus festival kicks off on 23 April with lots of events in May and June. You can be involved in everything from an asparagus auction to an asparagus run to a trip on an asparabus. You can even have your fortune predicted by an asparagancer and I expect there will be plenty of Morris Dancing too

See for more details and if you need a good B&B then go to my big sister's place just down the road at

n.b. If you want to get asparagus in London, I suggest you visit the biodynamic stall at Borough and Maltby Street markets where you'll find excellent produce that hasn't seen a chemical but has been cultivated in harmony with the cycle of the moon and natural fertilisers.

And to go with your asparagus, get delicious parma ham from the affable and informative Philip in Borough and now Covent Garden market on a Saturday, and excellent parmesan from Alison in the Jubilee Market section of Borough

Restaurant of the Week

One place you are always guaranteed good seasonal British produce and who will definitely have loads of asparagus is...

The Anchor & Hope, The Cut, Waterloo

The Anchor & Hope is a sister pub to The Eagle in Farringdon and Great Queen Street in Covent Garden, all of which are great places to go.

The Anchor & Hope is different from the others as it isn't a beautiful pub from the outside. When you enter, you find two sections; the drinking area and the eating area. You can't book so to get a table in the eating area, you have to run in at 6pm and put your name down on the list with all the other pre theatre eaters. Alternatively, you can put your name down for around 7.30/8pm when the theatre crowd all disappear off but whatever you do, expect to wait a little bit. It's worth it as the food is very fresh, reasonably priced and very well prepared in a casual and unpretentious environment

You can also eat in the bar area if you can find a space. They also have lots of good wines in carafes which means you can have a bit of good white wine to start followed by a bit of good red wine without having a bottle of each. Very clever.

Anchor & Hope is very close to Waterloo tube/station and will probably set you back around £35 per head

Anchor & Hope on Urbanspoon


  1. Read this on a Virgin train whilst eating egg and asparagus salad, who'd a thought a train (and everything else) company would be so on the ball with seasonal produce!

  2. Read this while on a Virgin train eating a very bad M&S salad with no asparagus. Loved the blog tho and lookin forward to next London trip to try out restaurant recommendations…