Driving through Villelaure on my way home from visiting friends who run a vineyard in Ansouis (www.stestevedeneri.com) I came across a rather intriguing sign.
Green Asparagus – Marseille London Paris.
This was worth investigating. It all started 3 generations ago. Robert Blanc was a local purveyor. His son, who had the same name, became a Deputy at the National Assembly (the equivalent to a Congressman). He used his connections in the nations capital to market the family harvest. The top Parisian restaurants were buying them up and they are still doing so today. The late Bernard Loiseau and Alain Ducasse have written cookbook in which the recipe distinctly calls for the use of Robert Blanc asparagus. As far as the London connection goes, Queen Elizabeth is said to receive regular shipment from the Villelaure producers.
In order to please all tastes the savoury stems are packaged in accordance to their size and girth. Each category is named after a famous French star. The Brigitte are voluptuous (Bardot), the Mireille are small (Mathieu) and the Danielle are tall and thin (Darrieux).
Now the only problem is that I haven’t been able to taste them because Robert Blanc asparagus are so well known that they are sold well before they come out of the ground. I guess I'll have to go to Ducasse.