Monday, April 9, 2012
ASAP's Get Local Ramps up for Ramps this April
Ramps catch the eye of regional James Beard Award-Winning chefs.
April is the only time of year for local ramps, members of the onion family found growing wild in forests and cultivated on forestland. Naturally, ASAP will shine the light on the region’s beloved early-spring vegetable this month. Ramps are one of two new local forest products highlighted this year—mushrooms will be featured in June.
Ramps are known for their bold flavor and are often described as a tasteful mix of onion and garlic. Area food entrepreneurs anxiously await their two to three weeks of harvest every year to create products with the distinct flavor. For example, Three Graces Dairy, an Appalachian Grown™ certified farm and food producer, whips up ramp goat cheese each spring. They’ll likely have it for sale at some of the first tailgate markets of the season this month, but do get there early, as the produc tfrequently sells out.
Of course, chefs await ramps’ arrival, too. On April 22 at 6:30 pm, Early Girl Eatery will use ramps in as many dishes as they can for an ASAP benefit titled 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, SC. The two chefs will also speak about their love of ramps and Western North Carolina’s local food movement. Tickets for the dinner event are $75 and can be purchased through ASAP’s website, asapconnections.org, or at EarlyGirl.
Diners can keep their eyes peeled for ramps on the menus of many other area Appalachian Grown partner restaurants. And, shoppers interested in learning which local farms, roadside stands, tailgate markets, and groceries offer ramps can now find out through a specific Forest Products search of ASAP’s online Local Food Guide, at buyappalachian.org/forest_products.