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The HotPlate: Ode to Asparagus

A harbinger of spring, asparagus hits its peak in the cool early months of the season, which makes this the perfect time of year to pay homage to the vegetable.

Germans go all out to celebrate the arrival of asparagus, especially white asparagus, which grows when the shoots are buried under a mound of dirt, keeping the sun from turning them green. There’s even a museum in Germany devoted to all things asparagus.

Café Berlin (322 Massachusetts Ave. NE) is featuring asparagus on its menu until at least mid-May.

An asparagus salad combines lettuce and grilled duck breast with a peanut dressing, and grilled perch is served with asparagus in tomato ragout with potatoes. And the restaurant’s cream of asparagus soup is accompanied by salmon dumplings.

At the German Embassy (4645 Reservoir Rd. NW), TasteDC is hosting an asparagus festival April 22.

Feast on steamed white and green asparagus, German hams and prosciutto, asparagus hollandaise and vinaigrette, smoked salmon, trout and bluefish, and German breads.

And what would a German festival be without beer? A sampling of German wines and beers are included with the meal.

Tickets for the festival, which runs from 7 to 9 p.m., cost $70. Visit TasteDC.com for more information.

Old Europe (2434 Wisconsin Ave. NW) in Glover Park is locally famous for its annual Spargelfest (spargel is German for asparagus).

Through May, the seasonal menu features cream of asparagus soup, breaded pork schnitzel with asparagus, pan-fried veal steak with asparagus and grilled salmon with, you guessed it, asparagus. You can also make a meal out of a pound of asparagus with hollandaise or tomato-basil sauce and parsley potatoes.

And starting in May, 1789 (1226 36th St. NW) will feature a decadent five-course asparagus tasting menu for a not-too-decadent $60.

Menu highlights include asparagus and crab meat cocktail with orange hollandaise sauce, grilled lobster with sesame asparagus, gingered grapefruit and mustard miso sauce, and lemon crusted veal medallions with roasted asparagus.

Up the price to $100 per person for wine pairings.

Sugar High. All that talk of green veggies have you craving something sweet? The Smithsonian Resident

Associates have put together a guided tasting of gourmet chocolates with chocolate connoisseur and author Alice Medrich.

Medrich will discuss her new book, “Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate,” which examines chocolate’s ascension to luxury food status.

The Hotel Madison’s pastry chef will prepare recipes from the book for sampling.

General admission is $82 and $65 for members. The hotel is located at 15th and M streets Northwest.

Schneider’s Wine Dinner. Schneider’s of Capitol Hill (300 Massachusetts Ave. NE) is hosting a wine dinner April 27 at Corduroy restaurant. Wines from the Adelsheim and Forman wineries will be paired with a five-course menu, which includes spring onion, anchovy and quail egg soup, slow-cooked wild salmon and chicken confit with leek puree.

The $95 price includes tax and gratuity.

Call (202) 589-0699 for reservations. Corduroy is located in the Four Points Hotel at 1201 K St. NW.

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