In the produce department, the change of seasons is growing less and less evident. Thanks to farms in the tropics and south of the equator, where fall is our spring, many "seasonal" fruits and vegetables are available year-round. However, the price of asparagus clarifies the calendar. Rarely is it a better bargain ― or the source more local ― than in May. To take advantage of the consummate spring vegetable, I couldn't resist giving it two settings this month.
Asparagus first won me over when I was a young thing, just into high heels. I was terribly impressed by a dish in vogue at the time called veal Oscar. Reputedly named for a Scandinavian king, the veal, topped with crab, asparagus, and a velvety butter sauce, had royal cachet.
Chef Bradley Ogden recently revived this forgotten pleasure at one of his annual crab festival dinners at Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, California. But he presented a different Oscar, this one with chicken. Here's an adaptation that works well for a cook without a staff.