Sunday, April 25, 2010
Real Rampy Up In Here
It is frankly pretty late for a mundane bit of THIS blogging, but seeing Endless Boogie (in space, as ever) and Dead Meadow (terrifyingly amazing; I may want to write more about this later) has left my ears ringing and my brain a lot less tired than it should be. And anyway, this isn't the usual this-bloggy link out to some Dahlia Lithwick column or long New York Review of Books disquisition. It's a link to a recipe. And a link to a recipe so easy that even I was able to nail it pretty well tonight, before a bunch of really high dudes blew my mind. You could do this, too. The thing you need to know: you will need oniony weeds in order to make this work.
The oniony weeds in question are known, for the few weeks a year that they go from being a rural nuisance to being a bafflingly expensive luxury greenmarket food, as ramps. I am not afraid to jump on a greenmarket trend and jam the fuck on it, as any number of breath-destroyingly crappy garlic scape adventures can attest, but ramps have always been a bit more rewarding in my experience, even before I figured out how to cook them. They look a lot like especially robust versions of what I knew as "onion grass" when I was a kid -- like to the point where I wonder if I was actually and idly pulling up delicious North Jersey ramps out of my parents' lawn during Reagan's first term, without even knowing how tasty they could be if sauteed/blanched properly -- and do not, by any reasonable standard, look like something that should be going for $3 a bunch. Or, just to hazard an extrapolation out from that, probably something like $15 a pound. If you live out of New York City and are lucky, these wide-leafed wild leeks might well be growing somewhere in your yard, for free. Like a million other waste products turned gourmet products -- from lobster on up -- they're kind of objectively fucked in an aesthetic sense, but also potentially very awesome when administered orally. Ramps are in season for maybe another couple of weeks, and after having cooked them tonight I've got half a mind to go to the Union Square Greenmarket tomorrow and do it again.
The recipe I linked to above is the best I've yet seen on this topic, edging all the fraudulent and too-oniony pestos I've attempted with ramps in the past. Done wrong, as I ordinarily do things, ramps are basically tiny medicinal onions with a strong big-bite-of-dirt downside. Done right -- sauteed in good olive oil until almost toasty, then blessed with some garlic and red pepper flakes and kosher salt and, eventually, tossed with the chopped up fibrous greens and pasta -- they're ridiculous in the best possible way. Your apartment/home will smell like The Good Lord's oniony breath for 24 hours and there is nothing you'll be able to do about that and still you'll be all "oh great, it smells like awesome in here." Let Babbo get its traffic -- anything to help Mario Batali get some real grown-up shoes -- but cook this if you can. Then mouthwash/floss/brush/fluoride rinse. Then cook it again the next day.
If I were the sort of person who photographed his food -- and I am, luckily, not that kind of person -- I would've taken a picture of the way it all turned out. As it is, my 15-minute dinner would easily have qualified as the most transcendent experience of my Sunday, had three dudes on acid not rocked my brain with maximum kaleidoscopic guitar activities. Which is probably not going to happen on Monday, unless this ear-ringing thing becomes a lot more distinct and transforms into Dead Meadow's extra-drummy set-closer. Which I guess would be okay, too. I am wondering now if ramps have hallucinogenic properties? Hold on, this unicorn is telling me to go to bed.