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Asparagus Master Class - Review

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by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce (subscribe)
Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at:
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Pick it, cook it, eat it - yum
Now and then I get a great idea. Not too often, I grant you, but every now and then. And one of my better ideas was to attend one of Edgecombe Brothers Asparagus Master Classes.

Edgecombe Brothers Asparagus
Asparagus with Parmesan (Photo courtesy of Sasha Wasley)

I spoke to Alf Edgecombe at Edgecombe Brothers a while ago when I wanted some information on asparagus and he told me about the classes. The whole concept sounded interesting and Alf invited me along to try my hand.

The classes are due to start shortly and so we, a happy band of four PR persons and food writers, were the advance guard so to speak.

Edgecombe Brothers Asparagus
We few, we happy few ... (Photo by D Sutherland-Bruce)

We gathered at Edgecombe's on a slightly overcast day and were warmly welcomed with a nice hot cup of coffee and a plate of home-made Anzac biscuits from a recipe provided by Trooper Bob Lawson, an Anzac who was actually at the Gallipoli landings. Delicious.

Fortified and gum-booted, courtesy of Edgecombes, we trooped out to the asparagus fields some 200 metres away. We had all walked past them without noticing at all.

Edgecombe Brothers Asparagus
The asparagus fields (Photo by D Sutherland-Bruce)

The fields were planted some twenty years ago by Walter Edgecombe (one of the brothers) against some pretty scornful opposition from the rest of the family.

He showed great foresight, however, as the fields now produce some four tonnes each year and Edgecombe's are a major producer in Western Australia.

Alf provided us with a sharpish knife and pointed out what a rising spear looked like and we spent a happy half an hour or so cutting slightly below ground and feeling like real farmers.

Edgecombe Brothers Asparagus
Asparagus spear (Photo by D Suthe)

The spears are delicious straight out of the ground, tender and tasty. As it is so early the spears were fairly few and far between, but at the height of the season the field get picked over twice and sometimes three times a day.

Carrying our spoils we returned to the bbq at the side of the main building and watched as Alf gave a short and hilarious lesson in breaking them to dispose of the slightly woody half and retain the tender tips.

Edgecombe Brothers Asparagus
Tipping the asparagus spears. (Photo by D Sutherland-Bruce)

He blanched them in briskly boiling water for two minutes and then drained them, tossed in garlic olive oil, covered them in parmesan shavings and we sat down to eat while sampling the whole range of Edgecombe Brother's wines - some delightful wines - and chatted in an informal but informative way.

Edgecombe Brothers Asparagus
Alf Edgecombe with Edgecombe's olive oil. (Photo by D Suth)

We should be very grateful to Walter as the asparagus his wisdom has provided is absolutely delicious. Eaten so freshly picked the vegetable needs little or nothing by way of sauces or dressings. We did, however, take away with us some other recipes provided by Alf, which I am quite eager to try.

After the asparagus we had some of the Edgecombe marsala-marinated 'Extravagant Figs' in dark chocolate for dessert - just as good as the last time I had them.

We sat, chatting companionably in the warm sunshine drinking some excellent wines having feasted on food we had picked less than an hour previously and congratulating ourselves on being there.

We left about 1:30pm, having spent three of the most pleasant hours I can readily recall. Of course, a good deal of that was the company, but Alf's warmth and hospitality, the surroundings and the food made a very enjoyable three hours.

Very highly recommended indeed.

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Why? A really great luncheon date
When: 10:30am
Phone: 9296 4307
Where: Edgecombe Brothers, 1733 Gnangara Road, Henley Brook
Cost: $48.50 weekdays, $58.50 weekends
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