Whenever a new season rolls around and the fresh produce definitive of that season fills the market stalls it never feels real or true until I have cooked some of it myself. There are tulips, fresh new green leaves and blossom in the gardens; I am wearing ballet flats on my feet and I never leave home without my sunglasses; and in Wellington during spring it is wild and windy. But I had yet eat to buy and cook asparagus for myself. Only then would it really be spring.
I bought a bunch of asparagus – slender stalks with dark tips, pointed and almost feathered – and cooked them the way I like best: sautéed with a drop of oil, a knob of butter, salt and a grating of lemon zest. Cooked like this the spears are al dente, a slight crunch beneath tooth. The sweet and bitter flavour mingles with the butter and the lemon. Even with the slight charring and whithering of their skin the asparagus remains elegant – long and lean.
Accompanying the asparagus was a generous slice of pork, tarragon and ostrich egg terrine from Big Bad Wolf Gourmet Charcuterie. The terrine was herbaceous, rich and flavourful, yet a perfect light lunch with a simple salad or sautéed asparagus.
Big Bad Wolf is located on Wakefield Street next to Commonsense Organics. It is a beautiful store – painted white brick, wooden tables and hanging light shades made of fencing wire. The chairs are mismatched and above the counter, hanging from the ceiling are two pieces of old gardening equipment, a pitchfork and perhaps a hoe. Hanging from these are dried salamis, chorizo, and a bunch of lavender tied with string.
But it is the charcuterie products I love – sausages, terrines, patés, rillettes, bacon, prosciutto, chorizo, Iberico ham, preserves and chutney… Everything is made on site by the skilled and innovative chefs, except for the Spanish and Italian cured and dried meats. The variety and flavours of the sausages are endless – spicy kidney and heart; salmon and sweetcorn; pork, watercress, potato and anchovy; lamb, pork, feta and roast capsicum; beef, caramelised onion and blue cheese; beef carbonara – beef, pork, mushrooms and parmesan; snail, pork and parsley; venison and raspberry; pork, saffron and leek…..
I write this as an avid consumer, but also, I’m lucky enough to work at Big Bad Wolf. On our first day we did a tasting of the terrines and patés with one of the chefs. It was 9am but a good a time as any to try duck liver parfait, hare and mushroom terrine, duck and cranberry terrine, farmhouse terrine, salmon and white fish terrine, pork, tarragon and ostrich egg terrine, chicken and thyme paté…. I knew I was going to love working there.
I hope to write more about Big Bad Wolf as new products come into the cabinets. We introduced our own bacon this week – middle bacon, chilli middle bacon, and ginger middle bacon. It is perhaps the best bacon I have ever eaten.