Saturday, June 7, 2014

Grilled Ramps with Pecorino, Lemon and Sea Salt

Spring is my absolute favorite time of year.  Alex loves fall (which is comparable enough when you are looking at the temperature) but a large part of what I love about spring is the appearance of things like sugar snap peas, asparagus and rhubarb at the farmers' market.  The reappearance of the sun and warm temperatures are a bonus.  Ramps are one spring ingredient that has I have never really understood.  The dishes we made at home with ramps were all pretty good, but they never blew my mind (the best was this White Pizza with Ramps) and I can't remember ever ordering a dish at a restaurant with ramps that really stuck out in my mind.  I did have a lovely carrot pasta at Blanca a few weekends ago that had a ramp sauce and a single grilled ramp on top that was lovely, but I think it would have still been lovely without the ramps.  I'm sure I have ordered other dishes with ramps because that's what you're supposed to do at a farm-to-table type restaurant in the spring, but seeing as I can't remember a single one they couldn't have been that amazing.  And yet I keep trying new ramp dishes because I am stubborn like that.  I see them in the farmers' market and I just have to buy them.  And then I have to figure out what I want to do with them.  Again.

Anyway, I saw this recipe in Hugh Acheson's cookbook, A New Turn in the South:  Southern Flavors Reinvented for your Kitchen, not too long ago and I mentally bookmarked it for my next ramp experiment.  It looked different from the usual ramp recipes I come across (i.e. serving them with eggs, pasta or pickling them).  Our fallback is usually pickled ramps, but I wanted to try something new.  And I'm glad I did because this was probably the first ramp recipe where I started to understand why people enjoy ramps so much.  In this dish they have such a lovely garlicky flavor that is nicely tempered by the salty flavor of the cheese and the brightness of the lemon juice.  "Grilling" our ramps on the grill pan seems to have taken their almost oily and pungent flavor down a notch.  I know some people enjoy ramps and eggs together but I have had dishes where the ramps just seemed greasy and a little too in your face funky to me (like in these Fried Eggs with Ramps and Duck Bacon) or completely disappeared into the dish (like these Oeufs en Cocotte with Ramps).  We served these ramps with some seared salmon, but I could see serving them any number of other dishes.

Recipe after the jump!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Update on Restaurants to Try for 2014

We are 6 months into 2014 and I decided it was time to update my list of restaurants to try for 2014.  We have done a pretty good job of checking restaurants off the list, but we have a ways left to go.  I would like at least a 50% success rate (plus at least one of the runners up) by the end of the summer, which I think is definitely do-able.  I'm thinking Betony and another trip to Brooklyn to try either Pok Pok NY or Roberta's, but we will have to play it by ear.  I have been very pleased with the meals we had at all of the restaurants on the list thus far; hopefully any other restaurants we visit will be similarly delicious.  If I were to add some new restaurants to the list (or the runners up) now, they would be The Gorbals (Ilan Hall was an early Top Chef winner and I love his show Knife Fight so I am excited to try his restaurant in Brooklyn once it opens this summer), Mu Ramen (their pop-up closed but I think they are also opening a restaurant this summer), Bassanova Ramen NYC (I know very little about this place but it made it on the NY Times list of Top 10 Ramen Destinations in New York and Serious Eat's Best Ramen Shops in NYC - plus their green curry ramen looks delicious), The Gander (we love Recette, so why not try Jesse Schenker’s new restaurant) and Decoy (the Peking duck restaurant by the Red Farm team).   
  1. Brooklyn Fare
  2. Parm and Carbone
  3. Empellon Cocina
  4. Pok Pok NY
  5. Roberta's and Blanca
  6. Fung Tu
  7. Alder
  8. Mission Cantina 
  9. Pearl & Ash
  10. Estela 
Runners Up:  M. Wells Dinette, Sripraphai, Perla, Charlie Bird, Toro, Betony, Sushi Nazakawa, The Cecil, Contra