By Kathryn G. Menu
“Local asparagus,” I shrieked, slamming on the brakes and pulling onto the side of Montauk Highway in Amagansett.
“Don’t skimp,” I said, shoving a handful of bills in my husband’s hand as he got out of our truck and proceeded to make the trek 200 feet back to Vicki’s Veggies farmstand. Vicki’s Veggies is an Amagansett staple, who we discovered that day had begun bringing in local asparagus from Riverhead as the local supply had yet to come through in bushels, thanks to the particularly chilly spring we had endured on the East End.
Asparagus is an essential vegetable in our household come the spring, and one sorely missed the remainder of the year when we refrain from enjoying the hardy stalks until they are local again. Local asparagus, in season, becomes almost a daily menu item, often grilled in the evening and topped with lemon juice, salt, pepper and feta cheese. It’s also something we enjoy during Sunday breakfast, a family tradition for the Menus where we prepare a feast Sunday morning that often carries us through most of the day and into supper. Even better is the fact that virtually everything we can cook for Sunday breakfast can be sourced locally, a priority for this family not only because we can support local farmers, but also because it just tastes better.
Asparagus with a poached egg — sourced from Iacono Farm in East Hampton, North Sea Farms in North Sea, or R & R Eggs harvested in Sag Harbor and purchased at Cavaniola’s Kitchen — is a staple come spring and early summer. Trim the bottom of your asparagus stems and then shave the bottom two inches off with a vegetable peeler before steaming for about four minutes. While the asparagus is steaming, poach four eggs. Top asparagus on a platter with a lemon compound butter — two tablespoons soft butter with one teaspoon grated lemon rind, salt and pepper. Then place poached eggs on top of asparagus and garnish with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
We also enjoy making French toast on Sundays, a particular favorite for our five-year-old daughter, Ella, to cook (although not eat—she prefers fruit, chunks of Parmesan Reggiano and baguette for breakfast, perhaps something she genetically picked up from her French ancestors). We have begun buying all of our bread locally, and often from Breadzilla in East Hampton, which makes a brioche with cinnamon sugar that is pure decadence when used for French toast. Dredging the sliced bread in eggs, heavy cream (the “magic” ingredient, says Ella) and cinnamon, and cooked in a skillet, our French toast is served with ground chicken sausage from North Sea Farms, and on special occasions with bacon sourced from the Ludlow family’s Mecox Bay Dairy.