I’m a pretty big fan of delicious food. Not just because I am a food blogger, but because I truly love fantastic food. To me food is an experience, not just a means to survive. Unfortunately our world doesn’t always see food as something that should be fresh and invigorating. Instead it tends to be promoted as cheap and easy. You may be thinking that you and I differ in our thoughts about food, or maybe not, but I want you to consider this, what’s the best thing that you’ve ever eaten? Why was it fantastic and what’s the memory that surrounds it? I guarantee there is one.
The first time I entered Caputo’s I was overwhelmed with the atmosphere of the store. It’s warm and cozy even though it’s full of beautiful, natural light. And then there’s the aroma. Oh. Sweet. Deliciousness. Every time I visit the store I wish I was Italian. Actually, it doesn’t really matter because when you’re at Caputo’s you are part of the family. Other than the delicious and inspiring products the absolute best part about the store is the people.
Everyone at Caputo’s seems to have a passion for fantastic ingredients and meals. They are all incredibly knowledgeable about everything, and you are immediately a close friend. Don’t believe me? Go in and ask anyone for some ideas for dinner. You’ll be given plenty of suggestions and if you ask they can even show you recipes. There are no stupid questions. If you don’t know what something is or if you’d like it, just ask. Everyone there can’t wait to educate and inspire you with food. I love that about Caputo’s, no matter who you are or where you are with food, anyone and everyone is willing to share their love, passion and knowledge about great food. Who doesn’t want to feel like family somewhere special? (Who has the Cheer’s theme song, “Everyone knows your name…” running through their head?)
One of the best ways to get to know someone is to ask them about food. Try it. Find a friend, neighbor or family member and ask them what their favorite home cooked meal was growing up. I promise the answer will follow with a story. Suddenly that person is back in the kitchen, 12 years old, and pacing in front of the oven. I’m telling you, there’s something about the combination of food and the past that brings people together.
Everyone has a story. You do. I certainly do. And Adri does. Do you know Adri? Adri is wonderful with food. You will love her advice for ingredients and recipes. When I first discovered her recipe for Asparagus, Egg, and Speck I knew I wanted to hear the story behind it. And guess what? It’s a good one. I found myself wanting to know Nonna and Nonno, sit in their kitchen and eat, a lot. It was almost as if I could see and feel her whisking around in the kitchen, smelling of fresh bread, meat and herbs.
“My Nonno and Nonna moved from their hometown Terranova di Pollino (in Potenza, near the arch of the boot) just before my mother was born in the early 1960s to Albuquerque, New Mexico. They fell in love with the landscape and sunsets on a trip to the US and didn’t want to go home. My mother and her brother and sister were raised in a tight-knit Italian community in central Albuquerque. Unlike most stories I’ve heard, my Nonna and her close friends tried to keep their homes as traditionally Italian as possible. My mother only spoke English at school, the home language was still Italian. My Nonna grew her own Italian vegetables- she hated the grocery stores-baked her own bread, and made her own pastas.
I spent a lot of time around Italian cooking. Nonna let us make pastas, smash garlic, twist her taralli breadsticks, and tenderize her cuts of meat. We did not have the spaghetti and meatball type of meals. We had feasts. Fried zucchini blossoms and asparagus with bacon were among my favorites. I picked up the idea for using poached eggs over asparagus from my Nonna from countless afternoons spent with her while my parents were at work. I remember my mom, aunt, and Nonna would argue over whether the asparagus should be grilled, roasted, or steamed. Everyone wanted it their own way. I love it roasted, the tips were always crunchy from the oil it was roasted in and perfect for dipping into the runny yolks.
My Nonna and mom have since passed and my Nonno has moved back to Terranova to spend time with his siblings. I hope I’ve carried on a legacy in the kitchen that I’ve learned from them, my paternal grandmother, my aunt, and my step-mom. It’s all in the family! ”
A simple, but incredibly delicious experience with House Speck, Asparagus, And Egg takes us on a journey through time where we discover who someone really, and ending with a recipe that will leave you begging for a taste.
Oh, delicious speck. Speck is like a prosciutto, but in my own personal opinion, even better. The House Speck at Caputo’s melts in your mouth like chocolate. Or butter. Gosh, it’s like Meat Butter/Chocoalte. Does that even make sense? It does to me. The House Speck is pork just in case you weren’t aware. The pork legs are slowly cured, and smoked. This slow process which can take months to finish, allows the pork to become full of flavor and so tender it’s as I said before, like butter. Speck is not as harsh or salty as prosciutto, but instead it has a delicate, smoky flavor. Because it’s smoked there’s no need to cook it further before eating it, but both straight from the market and a pan fried to a crisp are delicious.
Roasted Asparagus with Speck and Poached Eggs
- 1 lb. asparagus
- 4 slices Caputo’s House Speck per person
- 2 poached eggs per person (We love Clifford Farms’ fresh eggs)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and freshly cracked pepper
- White wine vinegar (for poaching)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Snap asparagus at their natural breaking point, each spear will be different. Toss asparagus with enough olive oil to coat each spear, a pinch of salt, and freshly cracked pepper. Roasted on a baking sheet for 10-15 minutes (10 minutes will result in spears that are still crunchy in the center and retain their raw flavor, 15 minutes will crisp the tips and edges).
Wrap speck around spears individually or as bundles served per person, keep warm. The fat in the speck will melt over the asparagus- talk about luxury.
Heat a large, shallow pan of water to just below boiling. Add a dash of vinegar to the water. Drop eggs in slowly, let poach 3-5 minutes. Rest eggs over wrapped asparagus. Finish with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Carrian Cheney was born and raised in Vancouver, Washington, but now resides in Lehi, Utah with her handsome husband and two darling blonds. Carrian started the food blog, Sweet Basil, back in 2009 with the idea that anyone can succeed in the kitchen with a point in the right direction. Sweet Basil aims at educating and inspiring readers with how to “reinvent family dinner” You can connect with Carrian through Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.