Ramp Fest 2012

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What smells strongly of garlic, tastes like an onion, and causes hundreds of New Yorkers to congregate 125 miles north of the city limits?

The answer is ramps, and people are crazy about them. Crazy enough to have an annual festival, entitled Ramp Fest, in the small town of Hudson, NY, a place that has valued this wild vegetable for centuries.

The ramp has strong associations with the myth, mystery, and folklore of the central Appalachian Mountains. Mountain folk have long celebrated spring with the arrival of the curious ramp, believing it to have great power as a tonic to ward off many ailments of winter. Fascination and humor have fixated on the plant's extreme pungency.

(Sharp Communications, Press Release)

Ramps are a rare delicacy (many blame Martha Stewart for their disappearance) and highly sought after by restaurants and connoisseurs throughout North America and Canada, not to mention celebrated by thousands of people each year with regional festivals and celebrations. Why are they such a big deal? Most likely because of their distinct flavor, pungent odor and very fleeting season. Ramps also lend their name to a little place called Chicago. Ever heard of it? Yes, due to a surplus of the wild allium on Lake Michigan in the 17th century, the city was named after chicagou, the native word for the plant used by MidWest tribes.

Much like an Italian sagra, or a festival dedicated to a specific local food, Ramp Fest will congregate fans of this foraged spring green in the beautiful Basilica Hudson, an old reclaimed 19th century factory building. Ramp-ers will chow down on original dishes from twelve super-talented, regional chefs, while enjoying a cash bar and live music on the historic river waterfront, creating quite the recipe for a good time!

Here’s a sneak peek at the line-up of a few chefs and their featured ramp-alicious dishes:

  • Jamie Parry of Another Fork in the Road: Smoked mussel, ramp & fingerling salad/Rampechello shots
  • Jeff Gimmel of Swoon Kitchenbar: Chicken Ramp meatballs, grilled ramp leaves/romesco sauce
  • Job Yacubian of The Farmer's Wife: Slow roasted beef brisket with hen of the woods mushrooms & ramp salsa verde on baguette
  • John Carr of Sfoglia: Vitello Ramp Tonnato
  • Kevin Katz of The Red Onion: Beer batter fried oysters, pickled ramp remoulade
  • Marc Propper Chef Justin Balzer of Miss Lucy's Kitchen: Ramp Pancake, ramp kimchi, pulled pork
  • Robert Pecorino of Café Le Perche: chilled ramp bisque with petite parmesan and ramp popover
  • Zak Pelaccio and Lady Jayne: spit roasted lamb pickled ramp/sheep's milk yogurt, whiskey/ramp pickle back

Join HandPicked Nation (yes, we’ll be there!) in getting ramp-y this Saturday, May 5th, 2012 at the Basilica Hudson from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets at $20 per adult, $10 per children, and include all the ramps you can eat!  For more information, go to: RampFestHudson.com

Sponsors of this event include: Saratoga Spring Water, Hudson Chatham Winery, Annandale Cider and Glynwood, a non-profit working to strengthen farm communities and regional food systems.