My Germaphobe threat level was at orange. Let’s be honest, I’m not a big fan of unwashed foraged veggies, that I feel obligated to consume. How many hands have touched these? What about the dirt? Did a wild hog poop right next to these before they were foraged?
So when Tyron, the cheese guy from Cato Corner Farms noticed the ramps in my bag, swiped a leaf and started to smear stinky cheese all over it, I began to panic. Sure he was wearing gloves ( I wouldn’t have been buying from him if he wasn’t), but it was those unwashed ramps I was worried about. I was at a crossroads. Indulge my inner-germaphobe and pass? Or, take a bite and pray I don’t get e-coli? In the end, my inner foodie said that I wouldn’t dare turn down Tyron’s ridiculously simple yet elegant appetizer and I promised myself to get some alcohol to wash down any germs asap.
“The Church of the Ramp is one of the fastest-growing denominations in the religion of seasonality.” says Time Magazine writer Josh Ozwerksy, when he declared that Ramps are the New Arugula for America’s top chefs. After my first ramp experience I’m ready for a weekly sermon.
Ramps are wild leeks or spring onions that are found in the United States from North Carolina to Canada and as far west as Missouri. They were traditionally the first greens to pop from the earth in the spring, hence their tradition of celebration. But, I think the flavor of ramps: part onion, leek and wild garlic is also partially why the are celebrated. The fact that you can only find them about 3 weeks out of the year and people have to forage for them makes them a flat-out foodie craze. Like our version of Truffle season in Europe.
I came across Cato Corner Farm at the Union Square Farmers Market during Bestie Reunion Weekend in NYC. I initially bought the Black Ledge Blue cheese for my salad, but his cheese called Fromage d’O’Cow is what he used on the ramps leaves. It is a washed-rind cheese made into a flat wheel. Think of French Brie, which would be a nice substitution if you couldn’t find a local cheese monger. It’s firm in some places and runny in others. It’s stinks to high heaven, so in the world of cheese, it’s amazing. The saltiness of the cheese and the peppery bite of the leaves were delightful. There were absolutely no leftovers.
If you are lucky enough to come across ramps in your area during the few weeks they are available, give this amazing appetizer a try. Cato Corner Farms also does mail order and here is the link to find them- www.catocornerfarm.com
Ramp Leaves with Stinky Cheese
1 bunch Ramp Leaves,
1 oz stinky soft cheese such as Fromage d’ O’Cow or Brie, Trader Joe’s May Spotlight Cheese Paglierina would be a perfect choice.
Allow cheese to come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Spread on to washed ramps leaves. Roll up tightly and serve at room temperature.