Colleen and Phil were bringing wine and cheese, leaving Wright and I on our own for the main meal (which I think tends to be preferable when you're hosting, rather than trying to combine aspects or make them cook in your kitchen or deal with tupperware, etc.). Since the signs of Spring have been coming to New York in full swing the past few weeks, we spent the morning at the Farmer's market to prepare supplies. Wright was really disappointed when I told him that no, we could not get a leg of lamb and make Phil starve. We'd do vegetarian, and I reminded him that even we have vegetarian meals sometimes without doing so on purpose. It would be a healthy, fresh dinner.
Since I've become creepily obsessed with Wright's immersion blender, I immediately thought to make soup. Pasta would be an easy go-to, but I thought soup would be more creative. Plus, it can be made in advance, so we could enjoy the wine and cheese without spending time in the kitchen (I say this as if the kitchen is separate from the living room, but of course it's not. We ended up having cocktails on Wright's roof, which was perfect). Anyway, we settled on a simple potato leek soup, and to promote eating [non-greenhouse] local foods, we grabbed some garlic chives to put on top. I threw together a simple arugula salad, and Wright picked out a fresh baguette to do a roasted garlic bread.
As I said, it was difficult to find anything actually grown locally and outdoors this time of year (not that I'm particularly picky about this, but when you go to the Farmer's Market, you might as well attempt to ride the wave of locavorism). It being May 2, the only thing we could find (other than the garlic chives) that was in season for the area were ramps. Now I've been perusing a few articles about ramps on various local-eating blogs (see post below), and they didn't sound all that exciting for the hype, but since they were the first crop of the season, we figured why not, and grabbed a bunch.
Everything went swimmingly, and Phil and Colleen were excited to try cooking ramps. [By the way, ramps are wild baby leeks, and they look kind of like scallions but leafier and with more of a bulb]. Since we were already being so brave with our decision to throw the ramps into the mix, we decided to hold back on the fancy preparation, so we (Phil) just sauteed them in butter and oil, holding the pan at an angle (like a Ramp!) so that the leaves didn't overcook while we waited for the bulbs to get tender.
The verdict? They were sweet, soft, and delicious. The stems were a little chewy, but the flavor overall was great, and they were a lovely side dish for our soup and salad meal. The crusty bread, fresh and simple salad, and creamy soup all made for a wonderful and surprisingly filling meal. I'm sure Wright is grilling a steak for dinner tonight to offset the vegetable overload, but I for one felt great eating vegetarian - a light dinner was the perfect way to usher in Spring. Almost as perfect as the buckets of rain we'll be getting all week, but that's a whole different story.
Let me know if you want more info on what we made and how. I'm sure I'll do a full post on the immersion blender soon, as it's my favorite toy.