Mmmmm…Ramps

By Naomi Kooker | Boston Magazine |

Close on the heels of the spring thaw, wild leeks, or ramps, are popping up in woodlands around the region, long before herbs, asparagus, and lettuces show their faces. Ramps look like little scallions with wilting leaves, but their frail appearance belies a robust taste—pungent as garlic, though sweet like shallots—that’s won over several local chefs. Oleana‘s Ana Sortun pickles ramps to use as condiments for grilled meats; Harvest‘s Mary Dumont blanches them for pesto.  Not everyone, however, waxes ecstatic over these rarified alliums, whose fleeting season often makes them pricier than leeks. "They’re not my favorite, that’s for sure," says Radius‘s Michael Schlow, who likens their flavor to a "steel-cage match of onion versus garlic"—so intense they overpower the dish. Who wins? "I think it’s a tie," he says, "but the loser is the person you’re kissing that night."