Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ramps — Springtime Treasures

After a couple of challenging weeks, I am finally back to my blog!

I have been meaning to write on this topic for weeks... Ramps! I grew up in West Virginia where ramps are readily available, but I was totally disinterested in them until much later in my life. I always associated them with being eaten raw and their pungent smell. I had not idea what a culinary delight they could be when prepared properly.

It really wasn't until years later when I was living in Charleston, WV and a friend shared a "mess" of ramps one spring that I came to adore these springtime treasures. They are only available in certain areas and for a limited time each year (generally March – early June). I remember vividly preparing that first batch of ramps! We put them in a foil packet with new potatoes and seasoned them simply with salt pepper and olive oil. We grilled them and ate them right away. The only problem was that it left us wanting more. The flavor is somewhere between a good onion and roasted garlic. The tops are like tender greens, and the ramp is cleaned and left whole to roast with the potatoes. Such a simple pleasure!

I moved to the New York City area soon after that, but was pleased to find that ramps were being discovered by chefs in the city and had become readily available in season at the green markets. Years later after relocating to the west coast, it is much harder to find ramps in the spring. To my knowledge, they are not found locally, but occasionally a specialty market will ship them in from a company called Earthly Delights. I ran across some at my local Whole Foods Market this spring and was able to enjoy them grilled with potatoes, just like home. We savored every bite.

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