Ella-gant inspiration and a ramp recipe

Yep, those are shutters on the ceiling. Too cool!

A couple weeks ago, we joined a friend for dinner at the lovely downtown Sacramento restaurant, Ella. Mr. T and I had been a couple times previously, but our friend Taylor, a gourmet enthusiast, introduced us to a whole new side of the restaurant. A side where we let Chef Kelly send out whatever he felt like and a side where yours truly stepped out of her culinary comfort zone. I’m not the most adventurous of eaters, but let me tell you, everything I tried was divine.

There was a baked clam casserole served with crackers and then succulent cheese drizzled with honey… a sip of wild mushroom soup and spicy grilled prawns… a platter of quail with ramps and for the main course, a beef tenderloin hidden under wild boar ravioli with blue cheese cream sauce, fiddlehead ferns, mushrooms and a port reduction. OH MY. And did I mention the dessert tray? My photos (below) do not do the food justice so please visit yourself one of these days. The atmosphere, decor and service are beautiful.

Taylor approves of the quail.
Happy eaters!
One of the best things I’ve ever eaten!
Probably not in the diet plan, but what can you do?
I have to say the chocolate sorbet was my favorite.

Fast forward to last week. I asked T to bring home some veggies for dinner and he gives me a handful of ramps. Ramps? Yes, ramps. “What the heck is a ramp?” you might ask. (I did when presented with them at Ella for the first time.) Basically, they’re a wild onion, sometimes referred to a wild leek. See:

Ramps have a savory garlicky taste to me. Flavorful but not overwhelming.

Of course, I had to search for recipes and cooking instructions. I settled upon a few that highlighted the ramps (rather than hide them in soup) and would also work for my meager bunch. (Those suckers were $17 a pound!) Working from two pasta recipes (this one and that one), I cobbled together an easy side dish of orrecchiette pasta with ramps, pancetta and tomatoes. What’s better? Mr. T and I got all gourmet with perfectly cooked filet (thank you T!), crisp-steamed organic green beans and homemade ice cream and berries. Not bad for a Wednesday night.

NSFD Ranking: *-** (depending on how much pancetta you use!)

Pancetta, diced (or a couple slices of thick-cut bacon)
1 pound orrecchiette pasta, cooked al dente
Ramps, chopped roughly
Olive oil
Grape tomatoes, halved
1/8-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
Pecorino Romano cheese, shaved for garnish

1. In a skillet on medium-high heat, sauté the pancetta for a minute or two.
2. If the pan is dry, add a bit of olive oil. Toss in the ramps and red pepper flakes, and sauté lightly until the greens are wilty and happy.
3. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add tomatoes and cook until warmed.
5. Stir in pasta to coat.
6. Enjoy!

Next time, I’ll leave the white root pieces a bit longer. I really liked their flavor.
Soon (okay, in a few months), I’ll be pulling fresh tomatoes from my garden!
T’s medium rare filets-o-perfection.
This is a QUICK dish. I started cooking it after the steaks were done. Have your ingredients and pasta prepared before putting anything in that frying pan.
Next time I’ll grate the cheese because my shaving efforts resulted in chunks.
Homemade ice cream!

Happy eating!


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