It's Spring, It Must be White Asparagus!

Did you know that white asparagus marks the beginning of spring in Europe and that it is heralded with much endearment and anticipation there? Oh, I am honestly so jealous of the Europeans because they have a season for everything from truffles, wine (eg: Beaujolais), white asparagus and who knows what else? Not that I am being ungrateful for the abundance of food and produce in our ideal tropical country, but it just seems fun to be hunting for asparagus, getting dirty and adventurous to harvest the rather elusive vegetable with an unusual-looking apparatus.

White asparagus, fried egg, parmesan, black truffle & rosemary butter sauce
Call this vegetable as you like, albino or vampire, but white asparagus surely is a produce much-awaited for, every year. The Germans even had a special term for it, Spargelzeit or literally 'asparagus time'. Their preferred serving method? Simply boil the white asparagus until soft and served with butter or hollandaise sauce. One meal pronto!

White asparagus has less pungent earthy odour and more tender than its green cousin, making it such a treasured delicacy in some parts of Europe. The I had come across a few interesting articles about how white asparagus acquired its lack of pigments, the difference from the green relative, etc here or here.

Come July, white asparagus season is officially over (sad!), but Jakarta had not missed in the white asparagus excitement either. From April until June, several hotels in Jakarta, including Intercontinental Jakarta Mid Plaza hosted the white asparagus affair. The imported vegetables could be enjoyed at 2 of Intercon's F&B outlets: Scusa Restaurant and Bacchus Bar.
Scusa Restaurant
Scusa has consistently held the White Asparagus Affair each year and this year, I got the chance to sample the fine creations by Executive Chef Gary Palm and Chef de Cuisine of Scusa Wawan B. Setiawan. I didn't have any information about asparagus wine pairing prior to writing this, so I didn't request for a glass of wine to accompany the special feast. Just for your information, asparagus is notoriously dubbed as hard to pair with wine because of a certain ingredient compound, which might make the wine taste weird or exaggeratedly vegetal. Many weeks later (which is the day I write this post), I read that asparagus is best matched with white wine, as a rule of thumb, white asparagus -> white wine. The recommended white wines are either Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Riesling.

After a long day at work, I needed to unwind with something fresh and chill, my choice fell to Lychee Martini.
Lychee Martini
As we waited for the first course being prepared at the open kitchen, we were served a very special bun that can only be found at Scusa. It was served in a cup and although my expectation didn't come true (I thought it concealed some soup underneath), when I pulled the bun apart, I found a pleasant surprise, the cheesy core. Butter is optional, but the cheese was savoury enough to finish the bun with.
Must-have this bun when dining at Scusa!
Appetizer
- White Asparagus (boiled) with fried egg, black truffle & rosemary butter sauce.
This is the classic or preferred way of serving in Europe. The white asparagus served in its original form and with as little dressing as possible so as not to overpower its delicate flavour. And the next was soup:
White Asparagus Soup and parmigiano reggiano fritters

Main Course
Grilled White Asparagus and Beef Tenderloin with gorgonzola, creamed potatoes and béarnaise sauce
Steamed Sea Bass with White Asparagus, potatoes and lemon caper berry sauce
Choice of Sides:
- White Asparagus Risotto with parmesan & truffle
- Boiled White Asparagus with Poached Egg with arugula & brown butter sauce

Dessert
Warm Melted Chocolate Cake with Rum Raisin Ice Cream

So, are you looking forward to enjoying all of the above? Well, you just have to wait until spring time (in Europe) and now you know which restaurant has White Asparagus Affair next year. =)

Scusa Restaurant
JL. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 10 - 11

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