Living in Southern California, I wholeheartedly admit that I’ve been spoiled by gorgeous beaches and perfect weather. There was a time, when I was in college, that I thought New York City was fabulous and destined for me. As much as I love being close to the beach and seeing the ocean everyday, I’m not your typical Californian in the sense that I don’t like to spend my weekend tanning nor do I partake in the whole bohemian maxi dress, flip-flops everyday look; my go-to outfit always includes a white button-down and sleek blazer. I get incredibly disheartened when I don’t have the opportunity to enjoy a white Christmas in the mountains, and end up drinking my hot cocoa in 70 degree weather. In short, I have what I feel is a predisposition for East Coast living. However, I did live in New York City after college, and while I thoroughly love the city’s food and fashion scene, my heart missed the slower pace and sense of calm California always has.
I’m telling you all this to share with you just how much I love Southern California, and why, since leaving New York, have never considered living anywhere north of Santa Barbara. But, you see, I was watching Barefoot Contessa like I always do (some people do daily meditation, I watch Ina Garten), and she was filming her show in California, Northern California to be exact. She was renting a home in Napa Valley, and she and Jeffrey were picnicking in vineyards, eating at Tyler Florence’s place in Mill Valley, and shopping at the San Francisco ferry market. And watching Ina live it up in Northern California planted a little seed of “what if…” in my head. What if I drove through winding grape vines on my way to the weekend farmer’s market? What if I drank my coffee and read the paper at a charming little coffee shop, minutes away from my home nestled among the Redwoods? And the bonus would be my best friend would live nearby and I’d get to see her just as much as I saw her when we lived in the same dorm suite. Yes, life up north would suit me just fine, I think. It also doesn’t hurt that Ina made an incredibly appetizing array of dishes while she was there, including this asparagus with hollandaise sauce.
This is one of those simple lunches that is so quintessentially French. I mean, it’s got an egg in it so…enough said. What I love about this dish are the different textures you get: a tender crunch from the roasted asparagus, the creaminess/butteriness from the runny yolk, and the crispiness from the slices of roasted prosciutto. And don’t get me started on the various flavors! The saltiness of the prosciutto and citrus-y taste of the hollandaise work so well in this dish. On a side note, one trick that I learned from watching this episode of Barefoot Contessa was something Tyler Florence actually shared with Ina, which is to avoid seasoning with pepper when you’re broiling something. Instead, sprinkle with pepper once it’s come out of the oven. Even though we’re technically not broiling the asparagus, you are roasting it on an upper rack at a somewhat high temperature (400°F). By sprinkling pepper after it’s come out of the oven, you’re eliminating the chance of the pepper tasting bitter. I can attest to this as I have totally noticed that pepper does taste bitter when it’s on something that’s been broiled. Overall, I think you will love this dish. It’s balanced with a bit of the sensible (protein from the egg), with a bit of necessity (dose of veggies from the asparagus), and a bit of indulgence (from the prosciutto and hollandaise sauce).