Anticipation of Spring

Mother nature most certainly has been stirring the pot and wreaking havoc over the entire nation this winter season.  Whether it is frigid temperatures, snow and ice or for us here in California, the lack of rain has created much concern for all of our crops.  I’m sure there is still a surprise or two in store for us, that being said there is finally a glimmer of hope and a telltale sign of the arrival of Spring in the Napa Valley.  Mustard flowers are in full bloom between the rows of grape vines and in the kitchen Asparagus (a.k.a California “grass”) is the hero ingredient on most local menus.

In celebration of the recent St. Patrick’s Day holiday and my Irish heritage, it was mandatory to gather with a few friends and spend a little quality time around the dinner table and catch up.   We ventured out into downtown Napa and decided that the community table at Azzurro Pizzeria would be the perfect spot.

After walking through the doors, seeing smiles and greetings from a few familiar faces, the habitual routine is to glance at the daily specials board.   The white chalk letters spelling out ASPARAGUS looked more like a blinking neon sign!  Needless to say I was a little excited and ready to order immediately.

I was first to order and made it known that I probably wasn’t going to be sharing tonight.  Grilled Asparagus with Olive vinaigrette and Sieved Taramasso Egg would be my appetizer and for dinner a pizza with Asparagus and Spring Garlic atop Mozzarella and Goat cheeses.

There is just something magical about the culinary joy you experience when having ‘first’ of the season foods.  As a chef, great food memories come back from the past and the excitement that seasonal change is here is going to make for plenty of fun in the kitchen creating new dishes.  My recommendation is to welcome the change and embrace the cornucopia of the Spring crops with wreckless abandon…

Submitted by Layer Cake Wines fan, Michael Laukert