The green shoots of economic recovery might be rather far away, but the British asparagus season is in full swing.
Asparagus is proof that eating seasonally is best. The wait for those fat green spears to arrive in shops in mid-spring makes it seem incredibly luxurious - but it’s actually a very affordable treat.
You can serve it with salmon or a dollop of rich Hollandaise sauce, but all you really need for culinary heaven is a handful of spears, a pat of butter and some salt and pepper.
Introduce a glass of wine however, and things really get going.
Asparagus has a reputation for being a difficult partner for wine, largely because its intense flavours can make wine taste weirdly metallic - or too green.
Adam Lechmere, editor of Decanter.com, says grilling the asparagus removes this "greenness", which is good advice if you’re nervous about finding the perfect match. It’s also very difficult to overcook asparagus under the grill - good news for novice cooks who have accidentally boiled their precious spears to death.
Either way, asparagus eaters should avoid big oaky chardonnays and head for softer Old-World style sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc or pinot grigio.
To be really patriotic, opt for an English wine with your homegrown greens. Try Chapel Down Bacchus - the UK’s sauvignon blanc, made from grapes grown in Kent and Essex - available from Waitrose and www.everywine.co.uk, priced around £9.
If you prefer the real thing when it comes to Old World sauvignon blanc, try Les Montgolfiers Sauvignon Blanc Gros Manseng (£6.99 at Tesco).
It might seem like sacrilege but last week we sat in the sun eating a simple asparagus frittata accompanied with a few choice beers.
The orange zest and coriander flavours of Blue Moon, a cloudy US wheat beer, made it a refreshing start to the evening, but I preferred the champagne elegance of Kasteel Cru - a French lager brewed with champagne yeast. Blue Moon (5.4% ABV) is available from Sainsburys (priced £1.99), while Kasteel Cru is found in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Booths and selected Tesco stores, priced from £1.99.
DRINK THIS: Beer drinkers should consider cracking open a bottle of the classic Belgian blonde Duvel with their next asparagus feast. This is a strong contender for my beer hall of fame - but it’s wise to remember that this golden beauty packs an 8.5% ABV punch. It’s available nationwide, priced from £1.58 a bottle.
My absolute favourite dish is asparagus with eggy, buttery Hollandaise, and some fab crusty bread to mop up the sauce when the spears are gone. Try this with Tesco Finest Chablis Premier Cru 2007 (£12.99).