Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Ramps & Romance

Posted June 28, 2007

Have you ever eaten a ramp? Do you know what a ramp is?

Well, last night during a special dinner at the new Herons Restaurant in Cary I cautiously ordered a ramp-flavored dish for the first time. I was cautious because of my memories of the late Thad Eure, Sr. The former NC Secretary of State served for years as grand marshal of the annual ramp festival in western North Carolina.

Ramps are wild and extremely pungent onions that grow in the mountains. Every year Thad Eure would pride himself in eating ramps raw despite the rancid breath they would create.

Well with last night's romantic dinner (anniversary) I was afraid I might lose out on a goodnight kiss.

The entree at Herons looked delicious on paper: dry-aged prime sirloin with sauteed ramps, potato puree, local shiitake and red wine glaze.

Well, I ordered it and the flavor was nothing short of sensational. I was also delighted with the lobster and she crab bisque. The service at Herons is exceptional.   I love the effort to weave so many North Carolina products into the menu.

And yes I did get that kiss.


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  • mudmom2 Jun 29, 2007

    When my husband and I were courting in the Western Carolina mountains he took me via back roads to a spot where we dug ramps..we were staying with some dear friends on top of the mountains and in giveing some of our ramps to them the wife made us a Ramp Prime rib....a prime rib covered in fresh ramps roasted to perfection....OH what a feast. A few years ago I was in Franklin during ramp season and purchaced some for my husband...ran to the post office and overnighted them to him and he was so excited....thanks for the wonderful memories Bill.

  • jcsmom Jun 28, 2007

    I grew up in a small mountain town and ramps were very common. I still remember kids who had to sit by themselves in the classroom because the smell was so bad. Our church always had a ramp dinner, but I never tried them myself. Bill, thanks for sharing. I have been trying to explain what they are to a lot of the flat-landers around here who had no clue.

  • Riverracer Jun 28, 2007

    I have never had the nerve to try ramps, but maybe I will now. Anything slowly sauteed in butter has got to be good.

  • bleslie Jun 28, 2007

    Good one Riveracer! No, she actually had another steak dish.


  • Riverracer Jun 28, 2007

    Your wife must have eaten the ramps too!

  • urbudelar Jun 28, 2007

    Fuuny stuff!! I think the key to ridding ramps of their wretched qualities is a slow sautee in butter. It's like taming the beast.


  • Wheelman Jun 28, 2007

    I tried them many years ago. You were being quite kind when you described them as being "extremely pungent". You can strip paint and wither plants with your breath after eating them. Garlic would be a breath mint for ramps. People have been known to smell like them for days after eating them. Even your skin will have the odor as you sweat. The mountain folks considered them a "cleansing" after the winter much like castor oil and "branch salad" ( a type of greens that arrive in early spring and have shall we say a certain "medicinal" value). Now people spend hundreds of dollars at health spas with all sorts of interesting procedures to accomplish the same thing.

  • PAINFREE Jun 28, 2007

    I enjoyed pictures of your family vacation in the beautiful NC mountains, and applaud your bravery in ordering a ramp-flavored dish. Glad it did not backfire on the anniversary!

  • luvtoshag Jun 28, 2007

    Congrats on your anniversary! Thanks for teaching me what a ramp is. Love to learn about new things and especially if it has to do with food.

  • packandcanesfan Jun 28, 2007

    Glad you had a nice dinner Bill.. and once again, your blog made me hungry. Glad you got the kiss. :) Congrats on the anniversary. :)

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Bill Leslie