The very best asparagus stems are the ones that grow nearest home. Its fleeting appearance -- just as spring blossoms into summer -- imparts elusive romance, but it's a rich earth-based romance.
In the market, look for rigid spears with firm ends; thickness is not related to tenderness or flavor. Color signals the tenderness of the stalks -- the deeper the color the better.
Keep fresh asparagus clean, cold, and covered. Trim about 1/4 inch from the stem ends and wash the spears in water several times. Pat dry and stand upright in 2 inches of cold water. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Or wrap a moist paper towel around the stem ends, place asparagus in moisture-proof wrapping, and refrigerate. Use within two to three days.