Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Ramps! Wild garlic, plucked from the woods, perhaps in the wilds of Oregon, but hopefully on a sustainable ramp farm. They're only available a few weeks out of the year, and this was the first time I've seen them at Whole Foods (ditto for the cashier, apparently).

The cashier at Whole Foods apparently never heard of ramps. There was no listing in her book. She seemed not to even think I was sane when I repeated "ramps, wild garlic, ramps..." It wasn't in the book. Finally someone found the price, under "baby leeks/ramps".  I paid. I left. I cooked.

Ramps are wonderful, a blend of leek, garlic chives and maybe garlic flavors in tender bulbs and stems. These were sautéed in duck fat, with only a bit of salt and pepper, then simmered briefly in brown stock.

The steak is a New York, pan seared. The pan sauce is a mix of more duck fat, roux, butter and the excess liquid from the ramps. Monté au beurre, seasoned and finished with a bit of heavy cream, because you can never have too many kinds of fat.

We chose a Vigilance Petit Syrah 2009 from Lake County, California, a sustainably grown wine. The three main ingredients - rare steak, ramps, sauce - tangoed with the wine in a virtuoso dance gyrating on the palate. What sauce remained was sponged off the plate with some sourdough rosemary bread.

A salad followed the steak in good French tradition. The lettuce traveled about sixty feet from garden to sink to table. Sustainable indeed, and no way it could have been fresher.

Afterward, a decadent dessert: vanilla ice cream, fresh raspberries and strawberries drizzled with crunchy tempered chocolate.

Definitely fancy, and we'll see if ramps grow here in Sacramento - I planted three likely looking bulbs in case there's a chance of this vegetable taking off here.

So, I can credit my fundamentals class, professional cooking and advanced baking for this dinner. Sauté, sauces, tempered chocolate all were improved or inspired by these classes. The wine I already knew about, so we'll skip that class.

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