Ramp-mania is alive and well, but we caution you to tread lightly if you’re harvesting them on your own. Ramps are victims of their own deliciousness, and Appalachian old-timers report that wild patches that have remained intact for eons (ramps are a perennial species) have been massively depleted.
If you’d like to experience wild eating without the dirty fingernails and trampling of the flora, many local restaurants are beginning to offer ramps and other foraged edibles on their menus in celebration of the turning of the season. Table, Jacob Sessom’s modern-American restaurant on College St., is really getting into the spring of things. Above is a beautiful photo, taken by Xpress photographer Max Cooper, of just some of the wild produce the chefs were able to pull out of the coolers when Xpress dropped by today. Right now, Table had gorgeous red wood sorrel, day lilies, morel mushrooms, redbud blossoms, violets, violas and ramps. Yes, you can eat it all. The restaurant recently served a dish of yogurt gnocchi, carrot, morels, ramps and peas and featured the wildflowers — including the lilies and redbuds — in a salad of locally foraged greens.
Table is located at 48 College St.
The Market Place also has ramps. Here’s a picture of the bounty that chef William Dissen took just this afternoon:
Those ramps will end up in a roasted-squash gnocchi, he says. Dissen also pickles the bulbs to save for a colder season.
The Market Place is located at 20 Wall St.
And on April 22 at 6:30 p.m., Early Girl Eatery will use ramps in as many dishes as they can for an ASAP benefit, “In Celebration of Ramps.” The meal will feature original recipes of two James Beard Award-winning chefs who can’t find ramps in their neck of the woods: Andrea Reusing of the Lantern in Chapel Hill and Robert Stehling of the Hominy Grill in Charleston, S.C. The two chefs will also speak about their love of ramps and WNC’s local food movement. Tickets for the dinner event are $75 and can be purchased through ASAP’s website or at Early Girl.
Early Girl Eatery is located at 8 Wall St.