More than 90 per cent of Australian asparagus is grown in Victoria's Gippsland region.
The Australian harvest of asparagus stretches from August until the end of summer, peaking in the three spring months of September, October and November.
With some of the world's finest asparagus grown in Koo Wee Rup, Gippsland, harvest time means Australia's favourite spring vegetable will feature on menus across Victoria, from inner-city Melbourne cafes to regional dining hotspots.
Below are our picks for the season.
Dan Hunter's Brae is surrounded by the Otway hinterland and 30 acres of Dan's own property used for organic vegetable and fruit production. It's this produce, along with produce from local, sustainable farms, that's used to create Brae's award-winning, seasonal menu. Coming into spring, the first few asparagus spears are popping up in the kitchen garden and the team is working on dish options: something new, or last year's popular asparagus, olive plant and sea butter.
Montalto's kitchen garden is one of the most extensive in regional Victoria. Last year's menu item – charred asparagus over fire, oyster cream, nasturtium powder – gives diners an indication of what the chefs will do with this year's crop.
Hogget Kitchen is set among the rolling hills of Mount Baw Baw, in the same region as Australia's asparagus capital. Hogget is the name given to a lamb between weaning and first shearing. It is the time when the meat is at its most tender and flavoursome – and what better company for lamb on a plate than asparagus. Hogget Kitchen will change over to its spring menu as soon as the new season's crops are at picking point. Diners can expect the humble stalks to be on the menu, too.
David's in Prahran specialises in Shanghai classics, including noodles, dumplings and stir-fries. During spring, diners can order the popular crab and asparagus rice noodle roll with ginger soy broth and peanut pesto. It's only $15 for two and looks almost too good to eat.
St Ali cafe in South Melbourne serves up asparagus for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This season, expect a breakfast of raw and cooked Victorian asparagus (from Koo Wee Rup), Apple smoked Ora king salmon, chard, kale, and slow cooked egg finished with parmesan mousse and 1000-day aged gouda. For lunch, Victorian baby snapper served with a salad of charred and raw asparagus, slow baked ox heart tomato and basil. And for dinner, new season asparagus cooked and glazed in schmaltz and finished with chlorophyll served with confit egg yolk seasoned with black Perigord truffle, crème fraiche, tarragon and dill.
Lake House Restaurant
With its peaceful lakeside setting and award-winning restaurant, Lake House has long been a destination for foodies seeking a relaxing break. In spring, the lamb with asparagus and morels is a menu favourite with regular guests. Produce is often handpicked and supports small sustainable producers and growers. Local lamb, rare breed pork, grass fed beef, fresh water fish, sheep and goat's milk cheese, heirloom fruit – it's all on the menu at Lake House.