Sustainable eating and locally grown foods are an important topic in the news. What many of us don’t realize is that frequently what is ‘hot’ or popular can quickly end up on the endangered list, if an item is sourced or harvested too quickly. Ramps (also known as a spring onion, ramson, wild leek,wood leek, or wild garlic) are an early spring vegetable, with an appearance similar to a wild onion, and emitting a strong garlic-like odor and pronounced onion flavor.
Chef David Santos from Louro, in New York City has made it his mission to steer clear of foods and seasonings that are being over-harvested, or near to disappearing from our plates.
His comments are as follows:
“Everyone makes such a push for the ramp. Now I like them just as much as the next guy, but they have gone the way of the blue fin tuna.
I’m not gonna get on a soap box and preach to everyone, but instead share a thought and some facts with you that hopefully will convince you to give the ramp a break to recover.
Ramp production is on a huge decline and demand is exceeding production and quality. The end result is paying $17 a pound for a below-average product. Pickers are less selective because they want to sell as much weight as possible. When I first started using them 12 years ago they were 4.50 a pound and thick and full of flavor. It was rare to get a skinny one because pickers were selective and picked the best. Now the mad dash is on, and everything is harvested before its ready, creating poor quality, and flavors that are nowhere near as full and pungent as they should be.
As a chef, I have chosen to boycott them for the past two years, in hopes that one day many chefs follow suit and let the ramp be for a while. There are so many other fun spring ingredients to focus on, and on this Earth Day dinner my goal is to do just that. Let’s focus on spring ingredients that aren’t being plundered like a village attacked by Vikings!”
The “Save the Ramps” Nossa Mesa Earth Day dinner on April 22 at 7pm at Louro (142 W. 10th Street, 212-206-0606, www.louronyc.com, @LouroNYC), will feature six courses highlighting spring ingredients – and not a ramp in sight ($55, BYO).
Save The Ramps
Monday April 22, 7pm
$55 per person, BYO
Asparagus in Varieties
aged mushroom curd, parmesan foam
housemade thai chili vinegar aioli, confit garlic, rhubarb sorbet
heirloom carrots, mushy peas, tempura skin
Jersey Royal Potato Agnolotti
rabbit pancetta, watercress butter, red cress
Lamb Neck Confit
whipped house made ricotta, radish, spring onion, purple broccoli
The Monday night Nossa Mesa supper club dinners have a different theme each week and are BYO. Reservations: 212-206-0606.
For a drink inspiration from Louro, please see this cocktail recipe.
Chef photo credit: New York Times