A group of Hudson Valley and New York City chefs are heading to a restored factory in Hudson on May 5 to celebrate the ramp: a wild onion that traditionally nourished mountain folk in Appalachia in early spring, when they were starved for green vegetables. Resembling a thick scallion sprouting a couple of long, broad leaves tinted burgundy at the base, the onion, which is known for its pungency, was fried up with potatoes or eggs in bacon fat in the kitchens of West Virginia. At Ramp Fest Hudson, however, it is a chameleon, tossed in a fingerling potato salad, pickled, braised in a cold bisque, diced in a salsa, fermented into a kimchi, grilled and chopped up as a seasoning for chicken meatballs.
Now in its second year, the festival was the brainchild of Jeff Gimmel, owner and chef at the Swoon Kitchenbar in Hudson. He’ll be joined by at least a dozen of his fellow chefs, hailing from eateries in Hudson, New York City, Saugerties, Woodstock and two Dutchess County hamlets; they include the Red Onion, Miss Lucy’s Kitchen and Panzur, in Tivoli. The festival, which runs from noon to 4 p.m., will be held at Basilica Hudson, a cavernous remnant of Hudson’s industrial glory days on the waterfront, across from the Amtrak station.
Tickets cost $20 general admission, $10 for kids aged ten and under. There’ll be live music, a cash bar, probably plenty of city folk traveling up by train and, as mentioned, ample opportunity to develop an intimate relationship suddenly with a wild food that you probably never heard of before.
One of the sponsors of this year’s festival is Glynwood, a non-profit based in Cold Spring that aims to save and strengthen farm communities and regional food network supply systems. The other sponsors are Saratoga Spring Water, Hudson Chatham Winery, Annandale Cider and Butternuts Beer & Ale. For more information, visit http://rampfesthudson.com.