Recently I made some exceptionally delicious asparagus risotto after reading about E making it. It was creamy and unctuous, but the perky hit of the lemon kept it from being too rich. The asparagus was perfect and gave the whole dish the herbal hit that made me want to eat whole bowlfuls of it at a sitting. It wasn’t side dish risotto. It was main dish risotto.
I’ve been looking for more dishes that feature asparagus since its still in season, and while at the store I noticed some reasonably-priced sliced shiitake mushrooms. Now, shiitake mushrooms might be one of my favorite foods ever, but I usually only buy them dried. It’s much more economical that way (until I grow them myself), but since they were on sale I splurged and brought a container home. I’d seen mention of asparagus shiitake risotto before, so I pulled up a recipe and got to work. I made some changes as I always do.
I also decided the one photo of me wearing my onion goggles wasn’t enough, so here’s another. I’m making duckface because that’s the only way these goggles can get any sexier.
Again, I had me some medicinal wine.
And here’s a tip for amateur food photographers: don’t have access to even a cheap, DIY lightbox? (Let’s face it, if I left mine up the kid or the cats would destroy it.) A brightly lit clean white sink works well, especially if you can edit out any scratches or water droplets in post.
I had extremely high hopes for this risotto. Back when Anthony and I lived in a one bedroom apartment with a kitchen the size of a coach airline seat and a counter barely deep enough to rest a blender on, I used to cook constantly. Before I developed crohn’s I spent whole days cooking. One of the best things I ever made was a wild mushroom risotto, and the memory of that meal is indelibly burned into my palette. I’ve been aching to recreate the amazing flavor of that meal, and since this dish used shiitake I felt sure I’d taste the echos of it in the bowl.
I hate to say this recipe disappoints, but it does. Asparagus and shiitake are two of my favorite things, and they taste wonderfully together, but, I couldn’t help but compare it to the asparagus risotto and the wild mushroom risotto of the past. The asparagus in this dish just wasn’t as good as the asparagus in the other, and same for the mushrooms.
It looked beautiful, and I don’t deny it was absolutely delicious. It just didn’t compete with the memory of the other two dishes. I kept expecting to taste that bright hit of the lemon, or that deep flavor of the dried shiitake.
Anthony and Isobel loved it, however, and although I made a ton it only lasted into the next day. It made me realize, however, that I’m going to have to try a bit harder to recreate the wild mushroom risotto I made a few years ago.
Anthony has been making this salad a lot lately, inspired by one we get at our favorite Greek place, and fortunately, it was even better than I remembered it.