Complete this sentence. In the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of…
You better believe it.
Who knows how or why the delicate, perennial leek, which grows wild throughout much of the Eastern United States and Canada, suddenly became the venerated darling of the food world — the undeniable king of spring in an already stacked deck including asparagus, sweet peas and soft shell crabs. And yet, the fleetingly seasonal allium (ramps only stick around for a few brief weeks) has become something of a prestige item on restaurant menus, with eateries scrambling to be the very first to get their hands on some.
Unfortunately, since ramps can only be foraged for, and not cultivated, the onion obsession is causing a real strain on the native population. Especially since they’re often removed from the ground bulbs and all, robbing ramps of the opportunity to regenerate. And that’s just one of the reasons we love Bushwick’s Northeast Kingdom, which instead of rushing to buy from opportunistic ‘foragers,’ doesn’t add ramps to their menu (or any other forest-dwelling item, for that matter) until they’ve traipsed through the woods with pocket knives and cutting shears themselves. And of course, they only ever take the leaves, which you’ll find incorporated into five unique dishes (taste ‘em all for only $60!) during their annual RampFest, currently scheduled for this Friday and Saturday.
We had the unmitigated pleasure of heading to the Hudson Valley with chef Kevin Adey and owner Paris Smeraldo, to track down the elusive ramp (we’re not giving away the coordinates!) chat about sustainable foraging practices, and yes, grab a few of the gorgeous, garlicky greens for ourselves.
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