These delicate white asparagus spears are wonderful. The extraordinarily thick spears are so soft and buttery you can cut them with your fork. In Spain they serve them well chilled with a dollop of mayonnaise, but they can also be served with a vinaigrette or as a special addition to salads.
King Juan Carlos sampled a couple of these extra thick beauties from El Navarrico and exclaimed 'Cojonudos!’ which is slightly off-color slang for terrific! And wine critic Robert Parker said "a delicacy of the world are white asparagus- the best from Navarra in Spain, and Les Landes (Bordeaux)...La Tienda, the online Spanish food purveyor has them preserved in cans (normally I hate canned food), but these are superb."
In early spring, shoots of an asparagus fern emerge from moist, rich and well-drained soil. Normal green asparagus spears are the emerging shoots that are cut off and bound in a bundle.
For white asparagus there is a different method. As the shoots first emerge from the soil, the farmers protect them from the sunlight by forming mounds of soil to surround each group of shoots. As the spears grow a little higher, they add more earth to the mound.
To get these extraordinarily thick spears the asparagus plant has to be several years old, as young plants yield thin spears.
El Navarrico is one of the few places in Spain that follow the traditional way. Most producers outsource asparagus to China, since artisan production is so labor intensive and non-industrial.
Canned white asparagus from Navarra is so revered in Spain that it has its own D.O.(a protected Denomination of Origin), which guarantees its quality and authenticity. Our friends at Navarrico grow the “Cojonudo” white asparagus spears in such limited quantity, that some years we buy the entire harvest to make sure we have enough.