Regular readers of my blog will know that I love all things asparagus and I have, over the years, written about my days out at the Asparafest event.
Asparafest is a food and music festival held near Evesham in Worcestershire and has grown from being a small community festival at The Fleece Inn celebrating the asparagus season to it now being held on farm premises in Badsey (on the outskirts of Evesham town centre) with live music and camping.
The festival falls right in the middle of English asparagus season (which is from St George’s Day (24 April) to Midsummer’s Day (21st June) and the foundation and heart of its purpose remains focused on championing one of Evesham’s most hailed crop – asparagus.
At the event itself you can buy locally grown asparagus and some of the other food vendors have asparagus inspired goods for sale as well. And to really maximise getting the most out of your asparagus purchases, the food demonstration sessions are on hand to give you some inspiration.
Whilst in previous years, I’ve watched the demonstrations eagerly, however this year, I was centre stage on the ‘Wot’s Cooking’ trailer with local restaurant owner (of Fusion Brasserie) and renowned Worcestershire chef Felice Tocchini helping him conduct his demonstration.
|Felice & I on the trailer|
Scheduled in for 12pm on the second day of the festival (Sunday 31st May), Felice suggested we cook steamed aubergines, mushrooms and of course asparagus using different seasonings and to show how they could be cooked in a low-fat method which doesn’t compromise on taste.
Some suggestions he made during his demonstration were:
- Eat asparagus spears raw – full of vitamins, they taste of peas bizarrely – lovely!
- Keep the ends you trim off your asparagus bunch, dry them in the oven, then blitz them in a food processor. It will give you an asparagus powder that can be used for stock for risottos or soups anytime!
- Wet fresh herbs in cold water, then chop them. Herbs benefit from the water’s oxygen and brings their flavours out.
- Use cheese that has been out of the fridge for a little while, it will taste better (although be mindful of food hygiene rules at all times).
- Don’t wash mushrooms as they soak up all the water.
- Place mushrooms in a bowl with a sprinkle of sugar for a little while before using them, the flavours will be enhanced.
|Talking through what we were making|
Being part of Felice’s session I enjoyed not only helping him with the food preparation but also chatting through each step of the meal and exchanging food tips.
Felice made me feel very welcome and despite the inclement weather, we enjoyed cooking up a delicious vegetarian feast albeit we were somewhat windswept during the process!
|At the end of the Demo with our finished goods!|
It has certainly given me the taste for more food demoing in the future so do come by and say ‘hello’ if I appear at a festival near you!
In the meantime, enjoy the remainder of the English asparagus crops around and put the dates in your diary for next year’s Asparafest on 4th/5th June 2016!