Every spring, I lead an intrepid group of foodies out into the wilds of New York City to gather seasonal wild edibles like Ramps (wild leeks), Fiddleheads, Stinging Nettles, Violets, Field Garlic, Burdock and Japanese Knotweed. It’s as much about learning how to source your own food as it is about cooking it, and it’s a great way to become more familiar with the food you consume.
Despite a drizzly morning and cooler weather, we had a record turn-out this year, with over 20 people showing up to gather and prepare dinner. Food bloggers Stephane, Ulla, Jessica and Giff showed up to lend a hand in the field and in the kitchen, and “Ice” the Jack Russell even made an appearance to lend moral support.
The wet winter and warm weather we’ve had the past few weeks made for a strong showing of violets, and the ramps were more mature than usual for this time of year. Unfortunately, this also meant we missed the very short fiddlehead season, and most of the ferns had grown past the point of being edible.
After gathering a cornucopia of ramps, we returned to the Lab 24/7 Kitchen to come up with a menu, and cook a feast for all the hungry foragers. I’d placed a huge Fresh Direct order of local and seasonal produce and meats we could use, Ulla brought grass-fed beef from her family’s ranch, and Stephane showed up with a carload of less pedestrian ingredients like vincotto and tuile batter that took our meal to the next level.
Everyone brought a bottle of wine, or liquor and it wasn’t long before the thirsty foragers started making ramptini’s with Giff’s pickled ramps. Jessica came up with a delicious concoction of ginger liquor and muddled Japanese Knotweed that was served with a straw made out of Japanese Knotweed.
Continue on to the next page for the menu and feast.