Sunday, April 18, 2010
The days of (West Virginia) Wine and... Ramps!
As readers of this blog know, Dan and I are planning two very special events at the Elkhorn Inn in May: our "WV Wine-Tasting Dinner Weekend" May 14-16, and our "Dueling Dining-Car Chefs" Weekend May 28-30, with Guest Chef, James Porterfield, railroad historian and author of "From the Dining Car" & "Dining By Rail"! We've spent months working on both events, having a Ball "researching" a bevy of WV wines (our WV Wine Shortlist will be my next post), and sourcing fabulous WV specialty foods, and asking our "fans" on Facebook and Twitter (Tweet us @elkhorninn) for suggestions! (A desert of West Virginia Jones Cabin Run Vineyard Port Wine & Holl's WV "Aztec" chili-chocolate truffles was the lastest & greatest suggestion, and yes, we're planning to include that!) Dan and Jim have crafted their menus for our "Railfan Gourmet Throwdown", and we've posted them under "Events" on the Elkhorn Inn's Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eckman-WV/Elkhorn-Inn-Theatre/53453051478?ref=s
And now: Back to the Saga of the Ramps! Ramps are a wild leek, an allium of the onion-garlic family, and while made fun of in West Virginia (as are a lot of things...), they are a gourmet delicacy in France, Japan, Canada, and other countries, and are both rare and endangered- and they grow wild here in our West Virginia mountains! Kirkwood Winery in Summerville, WV even makes a fabulous Ramp Wine (pictured above in our selection of wines for our May 14-16 WV Wine-Tasting Dinners Event) that Chef Dan uses for marinating meats and in reduction sauces! Because the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre is located in an (oddly for WV) Ramp-Free Zone, for some time Dan & I have wanted to plant ramps on our property, in the hopes that they'd go wild, live long, and prosper. And so, after phone calls and basically a solid week of planning, come Sunday, April 18 (the day printed in West Virginia South magazine), we drove 2 hours up and down the winding mountain roads of southern WV all the way to Richwood High School, practically Drooling with anticipation... only to find that the Ramp Feast had been on SATURDAY, April 17! AAAAUGH! Sounds silly, but we were SO mouthwateringly ready for a Feast O' Ramps, that I was nearly in tears! Driving back out of town, Totally down-in-the-mouth, we pulled into the Gateway Cafe to get a bite (of Anything), & I spied "Rampburgers" on the menu... Full of hope, I poured out our Sad Saga of Missing The Ramps Of Spring to the owner, and she offered to make us the Classic WV Ramp Breakfast they serve during the few short weeks of WV's spring ramp season! Delicate spring ramps sauteed in butter, accompanied by hashbrowns, perfectly scrambled eggs, crispy, meaty bacon, red pinto beans, & cornbread! TOTALLY YUM-O!