Friday, May 8, 2009

Cooking up the Ramp Romp

After our ramp foraging excursion a few days back, a little bit – actually, a lot – of cooking was in order. What didn’t go into scrambled eggs or into the pickling jar was whipped up at the main event, courtesy of Chef Bill.

Smoked Salmon and Ramp Bruschetta

Really delicious; I could have made a meal of these and been perfectly happy. Nothing more than lightly grilled baguette slices, brushed with a dab of olive oil and topped with Talula’s smoked salmon and sautéed ramps. Washed down well with bubbles and Rheinwein.

Crémant d’Alsace Brut, Domaine Barmès-Buecher 2007
$18. 12.5% alcohol. Cork. Petit Pois, Moorestown, NJ.
The exuberant ripeness of François Barmès’ fruit shows through in the forward nature of his ’07 Crémant d’Alsace. It’s drinking well now that it’s had a chance to settle into itself and shows the potential to develop interest with a couple of years in the bottle. Simultaneously crunchy and creamy, with pear, apple and guanabana on the palate and youthful, primary yeast aromatics.

Rheinhessen Riesling Kabinett “Limestone,” Weingut Keller 2006
$32. 7.5% alcohol. Cork. Petit Pois, Moorestown, NJ.
The weight and concentration of a Spätlese combine with the slightly lower than usual acidity of the 2006 vintage to make for quite an opulent Kabinett. Keller’s trademark crystalline minerality is still lurking in the background though, helping to keep the mouthfeel lively. Its fruit attack borders on the tropical, with key lime and guava playing nicely with flavors of ripe white peaches. This is fruit from Westhofener Kirchspiel, labeled much as with “von der Fels” to brand Klaus-Peter Keller’s focus on limestone driven terroir.

Spaghetti “Ramp-o-nara”

Yep, that’s my name for it. Laugh all you want…. This was a neat play on Italian and down home Southern cooking techniques. The ramps were sautéed in bacon drippings, the pan deglazed with white wine and chicken stock to form a “sauce,” then everything, bacon and all, tossed with the pasta. Really great depth of flavor. Premier Cru red Burgundy was hardly a traditional pairing but the smokiness in the flavor profile of both of the following wines made it work.

Auxey-Duresses Premier Cru Les Duresses, Domaine Diconne (Christophe Diconne) 2005
$32. 13% alcohol. Cork. Petit Pois, Moorestown, NJ.
Vigorous, even masculine expression of a wine defined in most vintages more by its delicacy than its structure. Brambly black cherry fruit with spicy, smoky nuances. Well balanced, its acidity and tannins are beginning to find their center, just starting to gel and harmonize. Quite tasty now if very young, this is showing every bit the promise that led me to stash away a few bottles on release. A fine value in ’05 red Burg.

Volnay Premier Cru Santenots, Robert Ampeau et Fils 1993
$70. 13% alcohol. Cork. Petit Pois, Moorestown, NJ.
The best of many bottles of this vintage I’ve tasted over the last couple of years. Medium-red with amber and rose petal notes around the rim, this is in that great spot where primary fruit is still evident but tertiary bottle bouquet is in full bloom. You could feel the wine’s age coming on but still sense its vitality; it was surprisingly firm, almost muscular in texture. A solid core of wild red forest fruits was surrounded by scents and flavors of clove, tar, smoke, leather and anise seed. This is a current release, by the way.

Pan-roasted Halibut Cheeks with Butter-braised Ramps

I’d never had halibut cheeks before; their texture reminded me of skate but meatier. A really nice foil to the butter enriched ramps – and to a youngster from Rioja.

Rioja Crianza Blanco “Viña Gravonia,” R. Lopez de Heredia 1998
$28. 12% alcohol. Cork. Polaner Selections, Mt. Kisco, NY.
The wine world would be such a safer place to play if more producers cellared their wines and released them when ready to drink rather than on a fixed marketing schedule. Both Ampeau and Lopez de Heredia do just that. Of course it’s an expensive business practice, which makes it all the more surreal that a wine of this age and quality that’s been cared for so well – not to mentioned aged in cask for four years before bottling – can still be purchased in the mid-$20s. Much like the Ampeau, this is showing lovely development but also plenty of potential for further growth. Golden, sunbathed fruit, waxy texture and blanched almonds. It really brought out the savory, oceanic essence of the fish, its pure essence – about all one can ask for in a food and wine match. (It's also the full answer to Wednesday's "Name That Wine" post.)


Aaron said...

That's a pretty hip set of wines you drank with your ramp fiesta. So, 1993 is really the current release from Domaine Ampeau? Remarkable. I understand Robert passed away a few years ago - do you know whether his son is now making the wines, or is the estate defunct? That'd be a shame.

Lyle Fass said...

Drinking well David. I have two bottles of 2007 Keller Estate Kabinett and am holding on to them for a bit. Did Keller make a Limestone in 2007?

Joe Manekin said...

Drinking and eating well. The pairings sound optimal. Are the cheeks a difficult find unless you find a top tier restaurant chef to buy some extra for you?

David McDuff said...


1993 and 1996 Volnay-Santenots are both in Ampeau's current release portfolio, as well as the 1976. The cellars are cold and Robert always made his wines for the long-haul rather than for short-term drinking, so these are all still in great shape, though the '76, at 33 years of age, is a different animal from bottle to bottle. Ampeau always put a greater stress on working his land than on selling his wines....

Robert died in 2004. His son Michel, who has to be approaching if not in his 60s, now runs the estate. The youngest wine I've encountered from them is a '97 Auxey-Duresses "Les Ecusseaux," which is also a current release. It remains to be seen, not having visited the farm, what the wines will be like in the post-Robert era.

As for the estate being/going defunct, Michel has no heirs to my knowledge, so it's a distinct likelihood at some point in the future.

I've never actually seen a bottle of '07 Limestone. Petit Pois definitely didn't bring any in to the US market. But I do see it in someone's inventory on Cellar Tracker so it would seem that he did. The regular estate Kabinett was quite tasty in '07, just rounder and less intenseley mineral than "Limestone."

The pairings really did work well, even if the Burgs were a little extravagantly matched. I don't expect the cheeks would be an easy find but we happen to be blessed in the Wilmington, DE area (where I work) with a top-notch fish monger, Dawson's, that sells to both the public and the restaurant trade.

Nancy Deprez said...

Wow, those dishes look awesome, and so do your wine choices!

Hey since I learned about ramps from you, I ordered them off the menu last night and they were delicious!

David McDuff said...

Everything was tasty to say the very least, Nancy. Glad to have introduced you to something new.

Joe said...

David - are those halibut cheeks hard to find, or can you pick those up and any decent fish place?

David McDuff said...

Hey Joe,
Joe M. asked the same question. Must be a Joe thing.... Seriously, though, see above.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin