In Season: Ramps

April 11 2012, 10:30 AM

This time of year, I'm all eyes for ramps—the garlicky, wild onions that are a sure sign of spring. The season is so fleeting and the supply so limited, that ramp-focused dishes are usually served as specials.

I caught my first glimpse of the allium over the weekend at Bittersweet, where chef and co-owner Olav Peterson showcased the vegetable in two dishes: a Parisian-inspired snails appetizer (pictured) with potato purée, sautéed ramps, and fried leeks; and the dazzling halibut cheeks with ramp-almond pesto and a succotash of sorts with spring squash and heirloom cherry tomatoes.

Other spots around town are using the spring bulb in equally exciting ways: At Elway's, chef Tyler Wiard, who says ramps are his favorite vegetable, creams, chars, smokes, and stirs them into flan, aïoli, and hollandaise. Inside Table 6's kitchen, chef Scott Parker is considering ramp-speared scallops and black trumpet gnocchi. And Paul Reilly, chef-owner of Encore, envisions a dish of chicken-fried chicken livers and a BLT salad and ramp-yogurt ranch dressing.

Bonus: The best way to prolong the season is to pickle the vegetable. Look for these pickles to show up paired with rabbit or fish at Luca D'Italia and even behind the bar in Second Home's bloody mary.

Bittersweet, 500 E. Alameda Ave., 303-942-0320

Elways's, 2500 E. First Ave., 303-399-5353

Table 6, 609 Corona St., 303-831-8800

Encore, 2550 E. Colfax Ave., 303-355-1112

Luca D'Italia, 711 Grant St., 303-832-6600

Second Home, 150 Clayton Lane, 303-253-3000