Catch ‘em while they last: ramps, morels and fiddleheads

April 18, 2013

As the days get longer, so too do the ingredient lists at local restaurants. Spring brings an abundance of new produce, and these seasonal ingredients are appearing on menus around town. But with a short harvesting season, some of these ingredients won't be around for long:

A "Lady and the Ramp" at BLT Steak. (Maura Judkis/for The Post)
A "Lady and the Ramp" at BLT Steak. (Maura Judkis/for The Post)

Ramps: There's plenty of this spring green at the very punny BLT Steak, where your $70 ramp tasting menu begins with a "Lady and the Ramp" cocktail, made with gin, dry vermouth, maraschino and angostura bitters, garnished with vermouth-poached ramps. Ramps also show up in a gribiche -- a mayonnaise-like sauce -- for a crab cake served with pea soup; as an accompaniment for a Kobe flat iron steak; and in a chutney served with robiolina cheese. Over at the brand new Red Hen, ramps appear in a salsa verde, the accompaniment for a pan-seared swordfish with braised mussels and smoky romesco. And they're served alongside dishes at Buck's Fishing and Camping and the Blue Duck Tavern.

Shad and shad roe: It's a "Rite of Spring," wrote Saveur, and the season for this delicacy -- an oily fish prized for its ridged egg sacs -- is already tapering off. Mintwood Place still has it though: Their shad is a filet with roe, lardo and lemon veal demi-glace.

A pair of ferns begin to unfurl their fiddlehead fronds. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
A pair of ferns begin to unfurl their fiddlehead fronds. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Fiddlehead ferns: These crunchy, curlicued greens are native to the northern U.S. and Canada. Find them at the National Museum of the American Indian's Mitsitam Cafe, where they're a side dish at the "Northwest Coast" station, served in a salad with potatoes and green tomato vinaigrette.

Rhubarb: The fuchsia stalks go well with strawberries in a pie, of course, but they have other uses: The Blue Duck Tavern's spring menu utilizes them in rhubarb butter, which goes with a wood oven-roasted bone marrow.

Morels: The ridgy mushrooms have a short season that typically begins in late March. You can find them at Blue Duck, as well, where duck egg, duck liver, and asparagus are served with a morel ravigote sauce. Verpa morels are on Eola's menu with charred spring onion and ham. And at the brand new Le Diplomate, the veal escalope incorporates three super-springy ingredients: braised ramps, morel cream, and asparagus.

Seeing these or other seasonal ingredients on menus around town? Let us know in the comments.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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