OMG Freak Out! Ramp Season Has Arrived

Chefs love ramps. Photograph via Flickr user Brian Luster.

It’s not just the cherry blossoms that are arriving early this year. So are another much-hyped harbinger of spring. That’s right, people, it’s ramp season.

The foraged garlicky greens have inspired such a craze that many chefs race to offer the firsts of the season. And already, the menu sightings have begun! Garrison chef and owner Rob Weland got a delivery in from West Virginia on Tuesday. They’re really just sprouts at this point and haven’t had time to develop those big green leaves. The young shoots can be a touch sharper, but Weland says they still have the same garlic leek flavor.

Thanks to the abnormally warm winter, ramps have arrived much earlier than usual. Typically, they don’t show up on local menus until late March or early April. “February? No way,” Weland says. “It was never before the cherry blossoms.”

Weland is charring the shoots in a cast-iron pan and serving them on housemade sprouted rye bread with pickled summer tomatoes and smoked ricotta for $17.

“We were kind of going back and forth, to be honest. I didn’t want to push spring too fast,” Weland says. Especially, he explains, because the firsts of the season tend to be a little pricier. Still, he couldn’t resist. He bought 15 pounds.

In a few weeks, though, expect to see ramps on pretty much every seasonal menu around town.

“Everybody pulls out their phone when the first big bushels come in,” Weland says. “We bring them out to pre-meal [meetings] and parade them around the dining room if we can. I think it’s a beautiful thing.”

Young ramps have arrived at Garrison on Barracks Row.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.