Once in a while, over the last seventeen years or so, the Gearhead asks me to go somewhere with him. Kind of like a date. It makes me feel that kind of pride I imagine, but never experienced, one would have felt in grade school when team captains picked (argued) about choosing me first for their team. My skills running from the ball and holding my hands in front of my face with squeezed-shut-eyes were never really appreciated. I’m told the practice of kids choosing people for their teams, whittling their priorities down with transparent and public disgust, was discontinued to allow more egalitarian practices establishing teams. My kids explain the hierarchy still exists. They get around equality in other ways. I’m not privy to the details. It leaves me wondering.
Anyway, the Gearhead asked me to join him at the Formula One Grand Prix in Montreal. He picked me first to go with him; knowing how much trouble I have with crowds and loud noises; knowing how little I understand about car mechanics or the physics associated with hot tires banking a curve. But he does know I love Montreal. And food. And wine. And bastardizing the French language. [wife edits: my French improves after a cocktail or two.][gearhead edits: No. It doesn’t].
So, dear readers, we’re off on a road trip this weekend. In the mean time, I thought I would capture spring with an asparagus recipe. Well, more the piquant, garlic spiked, allioli that is wonderful to eat with it. This version is Spanish, well, Catalan, not French (the French alioli omits the egg yolk). Last summer’s garlic is limping along at the birth of this season. It doesn’t have a lot of punch to it so you may have to use more than you would compared with hot August’s crop.
This stuff is addictive. I like to use it as a dip for asparagus spears but it can be used in paellas or beside shellfish, fritters, or boiled potatoes. Anything really. It should be the texture of thick mayonnaise. Don’t attempt to make it by hand the traditional way – it’s just too hard on your whisking arm. Really. Use a blender and extreme patience adding the olive oil and all will be well. If the mixture splits, start over with a fresh egg yolk and slowly add the curdled mixture back in as you would the oil. It should come back together. Patience is key. [wife dits: did you hear that Mr. Gearhead?].
Allioli (makes 1 cup)
2 – 3 garlic cloves (depends on size)
course sea salt
1 ¼ cup (300 ml) mild extra virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons (20 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Place the garlic, egg yolks and lemon juice in a blender and pulse until a course paste forms. With the motor running, add the oil in a very slow, thin, steady stream. The mixture will be the consistency a thick mayonnaise. Scrape the allioli into a bowl and season and season with salt to taste, and more lemon juice, if desired. Let stand for at least an hour before serving, or cover and refrigerate if keeping longer. This will keep in the fridge for 3 days.
To cook the asparagus, bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add a hefty amount of salt. Snap the bottom ends of the asparagus off where they naturally break. Have a bowl filled with ice water next to the stove. Place the asparagus in the boiling water and cook 2-3 minutes. No more!! Remove the asparagus from the boiling water and shock it in the cold water. Lift it from the ice bath after about seven minutes to a serving platter. This method captures the wonderful bright green.