|The town of Bassano del Grappa sits astride the Brenta River at the point where it emerges from the Dolomite foothills and widens for its journey southward to the Adriatic. Nearby Monte Grappa creates a majestic 6000-foot backdrop. At the center of town is the Ponte degli Alpini, a wooden bridge (designed by Palladio, according to some) which spans the rapidly flowing Brenta.|
|The most common asparagus in Italy is green and comes from Ravenna. And, for what's it's worth, any asparagus can be grown white merely by keeping the stalks from exposure to the sun (usually by mounding dirt over the plants). But it is the white asparagus of Bassano that is most prized, so much so that it has won official government recognition with a legal name of its own: Asparago Bianco di Bassano DOP.|
|Every year the restaurants of Bassano organize their own asparagus festival (A Tavola con l'Asparago DOC di Bassano - At the table with white asparagus), in which chefs vie to create the most interesting new dishes or the best interpretations of old classics. Every course except dessert contains some form of white asparagus. I have had white asparagus with all manner of seafood, veal, rabbit, in risotto, in pasta, in soup, with carpaccio, in all types of salad, covered in special sauces, and simply dressed with olive oil. Among the better restaurants which participate in the festival are Al Sole da Tiziano, with a splendid dining room in the center of town, San Bassiano, set on the edge of town with an excellent view of Monte Grappa and Ca'7, located in a restored 18th-century villa just outside of town.|
Despite the ingenuity of these chefs, I find the simplest traditional preparations are the best, whether in Bassano or at home using local green asparagus. My favorites are asparagi alla parmigiana (blanched asparagus topped with melted butter and grated parmigiano) and asparagi alla Bismarck (the same with a fried egg on top). Slightly more complicated is asparagi alla bassanese, blanched asparagus topped with a sort of Hollandaise sauce made with cooked eggs and olive oil.