On Sunday at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market, Top Chef competitor Mike Isabella wasn’t the only star on hand (though it’s way cool that his demo was to spit roast a goat). No, I was actually just as excited about two stars of Mid-Atlantic spring produce showing up: ramps and asparagus. (No sign of rhubarb yet, as far as I saw, but surely that’ll be next). I guess because of the hot weather, ramps and asparagus arrived more than a week earlier this year than last year.
Supply was also up. Last year on the first day of asparagus availability, all stock was depleted after an hour or so. Yesterday I sauntered in around 11am and there were multiple vendors with plenty of spears left. If you’ve never tried truly fresh asparagus, you really must. It’s noticeably tastier. Sometimes I’ll actually eat it raw – it has a flavor almost like fresh English peas when uncooked. (One other hint, for those who don’t already know: fat spears are not older or less tasty than thin spears, there’s just a lot of variability in asparagus girth).
Then there are the ramps. Ramps are a member of the allium family, like leeks and onions and garlic, and they kind of taste like a combination of all three. I made myself a melange of ramps and asparagus sauteed very quickly on very high heat in browned butter and olive oil, topped only with salt and pepper. Usually I like to roast asparagus, but this may be my new favorite method since it’s also ideal for the ramps (caramelized and buttery = perfect). Yum, tastes like spring.