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A New York chef’s crusade to save the ramps


Lamb Neck Confit with whipped house made ricotta, radish, spring onion and broccoli from the Save the Ramps menu. (Photo: Louro Restaurant)
Lamb Neck Confit with housemade ricotta, radish, spring onion, and broccoli from the Save the Ramps menu. (Photo: Louro Restaurant)

 

This time of year, every farm-to-table restaurant in New York City starts putting ramps on flatbreads, in pastas, and over eggs. But just like restaurant owners and farmers had a hard time keeping up with kale demand (and still do), there are (apparently) only so many ramps to go around.

Hence, Louro executive chef David Santos’ “Save the Ramps” dinner, happening on April 28, a night the chef-crusader is showcasing spring’s less trendy vegetable bounty, in hopes you’ll leave the poor little ramps alone. Or at least in the ground a little longer.

“Ramp production is on a huge decline, and demand is exceeding production and quality,” Santos explains. “The end result is paying $17 a pound for a below-average product. Pickers are less selective because they want to sell as much weight as possible. When I first started using them 13 years ago, they were $4.50 a pound and thick and full of flavor. It was rare to get a skinny one because pickers were selective and picked the best. Now, the mad dash is on and everything is harvested before it’s ready, and the quality is just terrible and flavor isn’t as full and pungent.”

Instead, Santos’ dinner will focus on spring produce like asparagus, carrots, peas, watercress, radish, and even rhubarb. In other words, those that, in Santos’ words, “aren’t being plundered like a village attacked by Vikings!”—Jamie McKillop

“Save the Ramps” dinner at Louro, 142 W. 10th St, btwn Waverly Place and Greenwich Ave.,  Monday, April 28, 7:00 p.m., $55, www.louronyc.com/april-28