úterý 20. dubna 2010

Asparagus farm in Hostin u Vojkovic

The asparagus season just started! Back in the days of the First Republic, Czechoslovakia was renowned for its asparagus, which it exported all over Europe. Unfortunately, over the years this fame faded and almost no asparagus is grown here anymore. Almost! I’ve numerously heard and read about a big asparagus farm near Mělnik, but never got around to actually visiting it. I needed to think about something else after weeks of studying and most importantly after a heartbreaking parting with someone we deeply loved. Yep, April was sad time for us. So I asked husband if he couldn’t take me to this farm to look around and buy some asparagus.

The village where the farm is located is not far away from Prague, just a 15 minute drive away from Letňany. The typical asparagus fields, covered with black plastic foil, were a clear sign that we were there. We drove into the agricultural complex on the other side of the road, parked our car and started wandering around in search for people. There was no one there.

We finally found a small sign on a building saying Bohaemer Spargel Kultur, which also said that the office is on the second floor. We walked up the stairs and knocked on the door. A gentleman opened up and we asked him about the asparagus. He replied that he doesn’t speak Czech…:-) It's an advantage that I speak German, because he neither spoke any English. He said that there was no problem with buying asparagus and that we had to follow him with our car. We drove through the somewhat rundown and abandoned, but considerably big complex and finally the man wandered into a big hall. We parked and walked inside too.
What was inside was rather surprising…there was one tiny automatic sorting link in the big hall, operated by four Asian gentlemen. They were washing and sorting out the asparagus and putting it in boxes. There was another gentleman who approached us and asked what we wanted. We said “Asparagus!”. He inquired how much we wanted, what quality and whether we had something to put it in. We handed him a plastic bag. Yeah, I know we should have taken a basket with us, and requested 1 kilogram of first quality. He put some asparagus stalks into our bag, put it on the scale and asked us for 100 crowns. I was actually afraid that they would not sell us any because we only wanted so little, but there was absolutely no problem. We paid and left :-)
There wasn’t one single Czech person we met, the men we spoke to were probably Dutch, not German for sure, and there were 2 cars with Dutch signs parking outside.

Now, to the actual asparagus. I’m not really a big expert but IMHO this asparagus is way better than anything you could find in town. It’s plump, firm and it really cannot get any fresher than that. It virtually came from the field.

The ends where it has been cut off were oozing with the "juice", they just had no time to dry out. This is clearly the best and freshest asparagus I have ever encountered here and I hope it will taste good too! And most importantly it’s local!

I’ve been to Makro last week and the asparagus sold there came from Chile, it was soft and dry at the ends and cost 90kc for 500gr. These beautiful white stalks above cost only 100kc for a kilogram! Second quality would have been even cheaper.
It's a great pity that asparagus is nost so popular here yet. Back in the days when we lived in Munich there was an asparagus craze every year during its season. Everybody had to go out and eat asparagus with sauce Hollandaise, or asparagus with new potatoes and ham and cook asparagus at home. Germans eat lots of asparagus and during asparagus season the shops are full with gadgets for cooking and serving it. Hopefully this tradition will migrate here, because it's a very healthy, tasty and not difficult to cook delicacy.
*The Boheamer Spargel Kultur farm is located in a village called Hostin u Vojkovic. If you are driving from the direction of Vojkovice you have to cross the whole village, the farm is on the outscirts. There is no information about the farm on the net, or at least I haven't found any. There is no sign indicating that it's located there on the road or in the village. It has been mentioned many times in different magazines, but I felt that no one from the magazines actually got around to visiting it because they supplied very scarce and similar information. Only white asparagus is sold there and there is nothing like a shop or anything. It's a fairly big complex of old agricultural buildings, that are not used. I think that it's best to go there in the morning or early afternoon. When you come there you'll see a long white building on the left side, the office entrance is on the side facing the road. If there's no one there, try to walk deeper into the premises and peek inside the halls, maybe you'll find someone ;-)