>It was a tour to beat all tours; an asparagus farm tour. Yes, it’s asparagus season. Our cool spring slowed things down a bit but then we had a few warm days and wow! Asparagus is one of those plants that grows so fast, you can almost see it growing right before your eyes; tall, slender, green and irresistible.
The Fruit Shack on Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake has a small asparagus patch behind the retail store. The store is only open on the weekends until the season picks up and then they’ll be open 7 days a week, but for now, they had a few minutes to tour a small group of eager foodies around the farm.
We walked into the cherry orchard in full bloom. The trees were in full bloom and filled the air with the floral aromas of sweet, delicate blossoms; then we past the plot of garlic before arriving at the asparagus patch.
Asparagus patches are pretty drab and unexciting to look at. The brown earth is interrupted only with a straight line of drab green spears; no leaves, no bright colour. But as soon as we focused on the row of spears standing straight like a line of soldiers, we could hardly wait.
The Fruit Shack is a family run farm and Frank and Steve Pohorly, father and son, were on hand to teach us a bit about asparagus. Steve took a knife and began cutting the spears and placing them in a basket as he talked about the high demand he has for his crop that was originally just suppose to be enough to feed him and his family. But an asparagus patch is not something you can keep secret for long and now everyone is hungry for their just picked asparagus.
Steve was neat and tidy in his picking, you could tell these were his prize possessions, but I bent down and snapped a spear off at the base and popped it into my mouth. I knew what to expect, I’d done this before. The juicy spear exploded in my mouth with the ultra sweet flavours of fresh sugar peas and the freshness of cold, pure spring water. It was full of life and crunch; who could not become addicted to the ultra fresh and uber delicious flavour of asparagus just seconds from harvest!
Others in the group followed and moans of delight began to ring through the crowd like a symphony of joy. No I’m not exaggerating, picking and eating asparagus in the patch is one of life’s greatest joys. Those who never liked asparagus were astonished at how good it was and others delighted in the discovery of the freshest flavours they’d ever eaten. It was like a feeding frienzy in the field.
We left The Fruit Shack and took our just picked asparagus to Escabeche Restaurant at Queens Landing Inn. The chef prepared them simply with lots of sweet, creamy butter. In the centre of the table was more fresh asparagus (raw) standing straight up in a flower vase. We feasted on the buttery asparagus and the fresh. It was an amazing lunch.