Yeah, I said it. First, let me mention that I've been a huge supporter of ramps in the past. Now, I've grown up.
So, what exactly is a ramp? Basically, it's a wild leek that calls West Virginia and parts of the mid-Atlantic home. I suppose the taste is sort of like a garlicky, leeky, spring onion. For a couple of years now, the 'food trendsetters' have been tripping over themselves heaping praise on this wild sprout like it was some new type of caviar we've never tasted before. Like I said above and you can see from this pic, I've cooked my share of ramps in the past.(the ramps are in the center of the photo, along with a host of other spring ingredients)
The problem is that I just don't get it. I don't understand why every alleged 'foodie', food magazine, and chef seems to drop everything they're doing in the name of ramps. I saw recently that a restaurant in New York City(and if it's happening in New York City it MUST be cool) was doing an entire ramp tasting menu....ramp ice cream, ramp sorbet, no thanks.
For me, I'd much rather elevate a stellar spring onion from my friend Samuel Martin or even better pulled fresh from our gardens. Or, how about pristine asparagus? Or the first of Tim Brown's strawberries?
Listen, I had ramps on our early spring menu this year, but I've finally come around to trusting my gut and palate(both of which are saying 'what's the big freaking deal'), so I'm telling the food intelligencia to piss up a rope. Even though all the cool kids on the playground are doing 48 course ramp tasting menus, I'll be the kid by himself on the other side of the playground covering himself in charred spring onion vinaigrette and wrapping just cut asparagus in country ham. Oh, I'll also be the chubby kid in the too tight Twisted Sister t-shirt stuffing morels with bone marrow and oxtail.
I suppose the lesson here is to cook what you love to eat and don't let trends or others influence you. If you're not feeling it, then you're not feeling it. If you cook what you love to eat and the people who raised what you're cooking are passionate about producing food, then you could honestly elevate dog shit to a higher level.*
*NOTE: Please take my word on elevating dog shit to a higher level. There really is no good reason to try this at home.