The countrywide Asparagus festival, that takes place between May 5 and June 30, is now in full swing, including Stockholm. When the festival first started in 2000, asparagus was considered a niche product and consumers didn’t really have a lot of choices. Today, the situation is the opposite.
The Asparagus Festival is a festival that is arranged individually at the participating restaurants and vegetable retailers. They arrange their offer by themselves according to their intentions. The hub of The Asparagus festival is the festival’s website sparrisfestivalen.nu. Here you can read ‘everything’ about asparagus – history, handling advice, recipes, travel tips etc.
Thanks to The Asparagus festival the interest in Sweden has significantly increased and more and more people are discovering the pleasure that is asparagus.
From a niche product to a new culinary spring tradition
When The Asparagus festival started, the Swedish consumers had no relation to asparagus whatsoever. It was therefore important to the organizer to choose the very best among asparagus. The asparagus that was available in Sweden, unfortunately, didn’t match The Asparagus festival’s high-quality demands in terms of taste, because the purpose was to create a new culinary spring tradition with Germany, the top asparagus country, as role model. The asparagus tradition in Germany is as strong as the crayfish season in Sweden, and this time of year, fresh white German asparagus is served in almost every restaurant. Thanks to The Asparagus festival the interest in Sweden has significantly increased and more and more people are discovering the pleasure that is asparagus.
There’s a difference between asparagus and asparagus
There are many different kinds of asparagus on the market and one has to be careful not to come across the tasteless ‘water shoots or imitations’. Compare it with tomatoes, that often have no taste at all. Because many consumers still don’t have a relation to the taste of the real asparagus, it’s important to offer an asparagus worthy of the name.
Awareness in the industry and among consumers of the existence of different kinds of asparagus and their characteristics is low. Many even believe that white and green asparagus is the same thing. That they both belong to the species Asparagus Officinalis L., but that the difference is that white asparagus grows underground and green asparagus above the ground. Well, it is true that if you put the green asparagus underground it will be white and if the white is sticking up above ground it will turn green because of the sunlight. But it’s much more complicated than that.
The white German asparagus has a hard outer skin and green asparagus a soft one. You don’t peel green asparagus, unlike the white, which is always peeled. The soft green asparagus has a beautiful deep green color, yields good and is frost tolerant, but unfortunately, it’s not as tasty. That’s why one should be well-read in order to avoid taking the wrong kind because of unawareness.
The white asparagus is the dominant kind in Germany and there are many different kinds, all with their own characteristics. One of the tastiest kinds of asparagus is called Schwetzinger Meisterschuss. It was named after the asparagus town Schwetzingen in southern Germany and it’s the Rolls Royce of asparagus. It comes from the cooperative OGA-Bruchsal near Schwetzingen and is therefore popularly called OGA-asparagus in Sweden. It needs a lot of warmth, it’s frost sensitive and therefore can’t grow in Sweden, but in return, it offers a taste that is hard to beat.
The OGA-asparagus has established itself on the market and it can now be found at the biggest vegetable importers that sell to City Gross, Coop, ICA and Netto. But that doesn’t mean that every store always has OGA-asparagus. That’s why you have to ask for it and really make sure that it’s OGA-asparagus they offer.
Stockholmers who want to prepare their own asparagus at home can visit the fruit store Fruktaffären H8 on Hantverkargatan 8 in Stockholm.
If you are looking for something different you should visit Stockholms Glasshus on Birkagatan 8 in Vasastan where they serve an amazing asparagus ice cream made of none other than OGA-asparagus. A real grown-up flavor, not too sweet, but just right.
Asparagus fest at Hantverkargatan 8
An event where the public can taste the OGA asparagus is planned at Hantverkargatan 8 on Kungsholmen. The asparagus is peeled by bypassers who can participate in a fun asparagus peeling competition. Behind the event are the store Fruktaffären and the restaurant W By Wijnjas.
Try asparagus ice cream at Stockholms Glasshus
Asparagus season – only a certain part of the year
The asparagus season usually runs from mid-April to mid-June. But it’s very dependent on weather changes. To have an annual hold time, we have chosen the official period from May 5th until June 30th. But the restaurants choose by themselves how long and to what extent they want to participate. There’s full flexibility because the hub of the festival is the home page. The participating restaurants are all over the country, but the majority is in the Stockholm area, where all the new trends tend to start.
Here are some of Stockholm’s restaurants that serve both the OGA-asparagus and some of The Asparagus festival’s recommended German wines. Notice that they participate during different times.
Duvel Café, Vasagatan 50, Norrmalm, May 4th – June 9th
Man in The Moon, Tegnérgatan 18, Vasastan, May 4th – June 6th
Internationella Pressklubben, Vasagatan 50, Norrmalm, May 4th – June 9th
W By Wijnjas, Scheelegatan 3, Kungsholmen, May 4th – June 15th
More restaurants can join during the festival.
What to drink with asparagus?
In the time when the French culinary culture with its belonging wines was dominant, Swedish culinary schools taught their students the wrong belief that wine with asparagus gives a metal taste and that mineral water or beer, therefore, is the right choice. And all that time the Germans were drinking their wine with asparagus. Fortunately, the food culture has changed since and we have influences from every part of the world today, which means that we are more open to wines from different countries. Dry white German wines with a mature rounded acidity are usually the best choice. Wines with an utmost light residue are also a good choice, like rose or light red wine.
Sponsored article in collaboration with Sparrisfestivalen.