By Bao Ong Photography by Kathy YL Chan| April 11, 2014 |
Food & Drink
Who says veggies don’t have star quality? As spring bounty like ramps, asparagus, peas, nettles, and morel mushrooms reach peak season, farm-to-table chefs are like kids in a candy store. Here, six restaurants unveil 10 new dishes to signal the arrival of spring.
1. Spring Pea Tendrils with White Balsamic Gelée and Millet
With a painterly eye and surgeon-like precision, Juni (12 E. 31st St.) chef Shaun Hergatt elevates fresh-from-the-soil spring produce to high food art. But the underlying message is all about simplicity. This delicate mix of spring pea tendrils and white balsamic gelée is served raw except for the cooked millet. “Spring is about vegetables, so I try not to alter them too much,” said Hergatt.
2. Green Ice Cream with Asparagus and Arugula Flowers
Just about every New York restaurant is doing an asparagus dish for spring—but this one, also from Juni, stands out. Dreamy asparagus ice cream sits atop crushed sable breton while glistening asparagus stalks, arugula flowers, and quail egg rest on a purée of (you guessed it) asparagus.
3. Glazed Nettle Ravioli with Morels and Hazelnuts
At Midtown's Betony (41 W. 57th St.), chef Bryce Shuman's nettle-stuffed ravioli is like a foraging expedition for your palate. Zippy nettles are used inside and atop the pasta, along with sizable morels, crunchy hazelnuts, a swirl of olive oil, and a foamy vin jaunne (French for "yellow") sauce made of shallots, white wine, and stock. "The vin jaunne makes the morels taste more like morels," said Shuman.
4. Ramp Risotto with Preserved Lemon and Parmesan
Practically neon, this ramp risotto is a study in green brightened by preserved lemon and a flurry of nutty parmesan. “After almost six months of the same ingredients, you feel like you’ve gone dormant,” said Tocqueville (1 E. 15th St.) head chef Jason Lawless. “When you first see ramps, you know it’s spring.”
5. Scottish Sea Trout with Green Peas, Baby Carrots, and Ramp Emulsion
Ramps also make an appearance as an emulsion in Tocqueville’s oven-roasted Scottish sea trout. The pungency of the ramps is counterbalanced by the delicacy of the fish and the sweetness of the peas and carrots. And the color contrast of bright orange and green is truly awakening.
6. Lamb Bacon-Wrapped Lamb with Morels, Mint, Green Peas, Spring Onion, and Lamb Jus
This dish is Easter on a plate and you should eat it as soon as possible. Lawless' genius "lamb bacon" is from the saddle of the lamb; it's essentially a thin layer of fat. Snap a pic for your Instagram and watch the lamb bacon likes roll in...
7. Fried Gnocchi with Nettles, Wild Greens, and Wild Garlic
As one of New York’s early “eat local” evangelists, Bill Telepan and springtime go together like ramps and romesco. Except, ramps are a little too obvious for Telepan. Instead, at his new Telepan Local (329 Greenwich St.), he laces butter-fried gnocchi with fresh greens and wild garlic to mimic the notes of ramps. To call this dish crave-worthy is an understatement.
8. Asparagus à la Plancha with Warm Aioli and Cured Egg Yolk
Of Boston fame, Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette have earned major NYC cred with their Chelsea foray, Toro (85 10th Ave.). Their asparagus à la plancha with warm aioli, a cured egg yolk, and greens is full of surprises. The lean stalks of asparagus are tender and perfectly charred, the aioli is airy, and the finishing salt is sprinkled with exactitude.
9. Watermelon Gazpacho with Organic Produce
Boqueria's (171 Spring St.) Marc Vidal ushers in spring with a summer staple: watermelon. His gazpacho recipe is a sophisticated take on one he carried around in a cooler as a kid in Barcelona. Watermelon and tomatoes are emulsified with olive oil and dotted with organic produce from the farmers’ market.
10. Green Pea and Fava Bean Salad with Mint, Ricotta and Citrus
Another addition to Boqueria’s menu is Vidal’s green pea and fava bean salad atop a bed of creamy ricotta. Both dishes will be served as long as the ingredients are in season.