Hudson’s First Annual Ramp Festival
The ramp, that incorrigible first forage-able of the season, will be celebrated in all its odiferous glory on Saturday, April 30 at Hudson’s First Annual Ramp Fest. “The ramp is a harbinger of spring,” says the event’s organizer, Jeff Gimmel, of Swoon Kitchenbar in Hudson. ” We want to celebrate this weird and wonderful wild veggie.”
Peter Platt’s Pickled Ramps
To extend the lifespan of ramps on the Old Inn menu, Platt pickles the white portion. “We use them as a garnish,” he says, “or as a substitute for the pickled onion in a Gibson.”
Wash ramps briefly, slip down the loose membrane covering the white bulb and chop it off, along with the roots. Cut off the green tops and retain for another use. Blanch them in salted boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain.
Meanwhile, stir together a brine:
1/2 c red wine vinegar
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. sugar.
Once the sugar is dissolved, pour the brine over the hot ramps, cover, and refrigerate. They will be pickled in just a couple of hours and keep in the refrigerator for months. If properly canned in sealed glass jars, they will keep indefinitely without refrigeration until the seal is broken, after which they must be kept chilled.
A North American native, the ramp has more aliases than a career criminal—spring onion, ramson, wild leek, wild garlic. Notorious for its strong, garlicky odor and pronounced onion flavor, ramp festivals have long been popular gross-out entertainments in the south. (Munched raw, a rank odor is said to exude through the eater’s skin for days afterward.) But the Hudson event promises to be entirely different: the ramp, when treated knowingly, is an elegant vegetable of infinite finesse, as demonstrated in this recipe [see box] shared with Rural Intelligence a couple of years ago by the Berkshire County chef Peter Platt of the Old Inn on the Green. Platt will not participating in the Hudson event.
But many top chefs from within our region, as well as several visiting from New York City, will. Joining Gimmel will be Daniel Nilsson of DA|BA, Shawn Snyder of Baba Louie’s, both also in Hudson, Job Yacubian of The Farmer’s Wife in Ancramdale, Jamie Parry of Another Fork in the Road in Milan, and Kevin Katz of The Red Onion in Saugerties. The New York City contingent includes Fatty ‘Cue‘s Zak Pelaccio, The Silkstone Team from The Fat Radish, Robert Berry of Cookshop, and Ricky King of Hundred Acres. All will create original dishes centered on the ramp.