by Sarah Zorn 8/14/14
Complete this sentence. In the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of…
You better believe it.
Who knows how or why the delicate, perennial leek, which grows wild throughout much of the Eastern United States and Canada, suddenly became the venerated darling of the food world — the undeniable king of spring in an already stacked deck including asparagus, sweet peas and soft shell crabs. And yet, the fleetingly seasonal allium (ramps only stick around for a few brief weeks) has become something of a prestige item on restaurant menus, with eateries scrambling to be the very first to get their hands on some.
Unfortunately, since ramps can only be foraged for, and not cultivated, the onion obsession is causing a real strain on the native population. Especially since they’re often removed from the ground bulbs and all, robbing ramps of the opportunity to regenerate. And that’s just one of the reasons we love Bushwick’s Northeast Kingdom, which instead of rushing to buy from opportunistic ‘foragers,’ doesn’t add ramps to their menu (or any other forest-dwelling item, for that matter) until they’ve traipsed through the woods with pocket knives and cutting shears themselves. And of course, they only ever take the leaves, which you’ll find incorporated into five unique dishes (taste ‘em all for only $60!) during their annual RampFest, currently scheduled for this Friday and Saturday.
We had the unmitigated pleasure of heading to the Hudson Valley with chef Kevin Adey and owner Paris Smeraldo, to track down the elusive ramp (we’re not giving away the coordinates!) chat about sustainable foraging practices, and yes, grab a few of the gorgeous, garlicky greens for ourselves.
18 Wyckoff Ave., (718) 386-3864
A Food And Drink Tour Of Bushwick’s ‘Jefftown’
Northeast Kingdom: This is the place that kind of started it all, if you wanted to drink or eat out in this area around 2010 this was one of your few choices, a necessary haven with cabin-inspired charm in an otherwise desolate area. Luckily, it’s still there, even as the environment around it changes. And it’s still the same… though you may have to wait a little longer for a table during prime time. (They’ve got a bar, and a downstairs area, aside from their dining tables.)
Their “chalkboard” wines still costs 5 bucks, and their rotating menu keeps things fresh, they do have their own farm upstate, after all. There they grow their own vegetables, raise hens and bees, press apples, and make beer. And in keeping with their seasonal approach to thing, they’ve got their own Ramp Fest coming up next weekend (May 9th and 10th). They’ll be offering a ramp tasting menu featuring the foraged item pickled, sauteed, roasted, and raw; there will also be a special cocktail (you’ll want to call for reservations for this one).
How much will you spend? Entrees range from $15-25, sides start at $5, and appetizers are around $7-15. And if you’re too good for that chalkboard wine (it’s good!), then cocktails start at $8, and beers at $3. (Jen Carlson)
18 Wyckoff Ave between Troutman and Starr Streets (718-386-3864, north-eastkingdom.com)
by Sarah Zorn 4/14/14
Northeast Kingdom’s Stinging Nettle Soup: Since Northeast Kingdom is staunchly committed to sourcing their ingredients locally (or foraging for them with their own hands), spring produce is just beginning to find its way onto the menu. But a stinging nettle soup serves as an excellent teaser for dishes yet to come, the luminous greenness broken only by a yolky oblong of halved egg and a swirl of crème fraiche.
18 Wyckoff Ave., (718) 386-3864
Brooklyn Chef’s Table is here. Check out our pigs head terrine recipe and tips on foraging
Dinner $$$: Northeast Kingdom
You can almost smell the Vermont pine trees upon entering Northeast Kingdom, Bushwick’s contemporary American tribute to New England farmland. Since opening in 2005, it’s become a neighborhood institution, and with good reason. Kevin Adey‘s seasonal menu changes regularly, supplemented by a sizable list of specials advertised from mounted chalkboards. Intelligent, impeccably executed dishes celebrate local—often foraged—ingredients and nose-to-tail preparations of organic meats. You can’t really go wrong with your order, but my personal go-to is the scallops, most recently served with tender cipollini onions, tart crab apple, smoky bacon, and a garnish of hazelnuts and greens (pictured above). If you’re craving the red meat they’re best known for, though, go for the burger—you won’t regret it.
It’s also worth noting that by $$$, I mostly mean that this is the kind of restaurant you’d take your out-of-town middle class relatives and kill two birds with one stone—a great meal for free and an environment that won’t totally freak them out or leave them muttering about the sh*thole you live in (true story). In reality, you can get away with spending under $40 a person, including drinks, if you order wisely.
#8 Northeast Kingdom’s Stone Cut Oat Porridge
No. 8: Stone cut oat porridge from Northeast Kingdom (18 Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-386-3864)
Porridge might be a breakfast basic, but on the dinner menu at Northeast Kingdom, it gets special treatment–and it should not be missed.
Bushwick’s Northeast Kingdom celebrates humble ingredients, and on the ever-changing seasonal menu here, you’ll find many fine specimens of local produce, seafood, and poultry basking in glorious simplicity, the true essence of each item showcased by a supporting cast of garnishes that’s pared down to just what’s necessary. With that context, porridge doesn’t look out of place on the dinner menu, even if you’d be inclined to think of it as a proletariat breakfast dish elsewhere. Order it and be further convinced that it belongs–the hearty bowl of soft-cooked oats is as rich and savory as a winter stew, and it’s bolstered voluptuously by a runny-yolked egg and the earthy paper-thin slices of crispy sunchokes. It’s comfort food and immensely satisfying, and it works as a precursor to a heftier meal–perhaps you’ve come for NEK’s killer burger–or as the main event if you add a plate of simply dressed greens on the side.
The 20 Best Sandwiches In 20 Brooklyn Neighborhoods
Before trying the Northeast Kingdom chicken sandwich, I would’ve thought it was impossible to improve upon something so simple and so good. I mean, what’s better than a classic chicken sandwich? Oh, I don’t know, maybe a chicken sandwich smothered in spicy, nutty Kung Pao sauce that’ll make your tongue tingle and your nose burn and will leave you feeling like you just can’t get enough of this savory sandwich served on a soft, sweet brioche roll that offers the perfect contrast to the crunchy, spicy chicken. Do yourself a favor and eat up accompanied by one of the many beers Northeast Kingdom has on tap. This is definitely one of our favorite lunches in Brooklyn.
Posted by Kristin Iversen on Tue, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Creamed Kale; Northeast Kingdom
Even kale needs to feel decadent sometimes, and what better way to do it than by adding lots of cream and butter and dairy goodness? None that we can think of. So when you want to feel a little bad when you’re eating kale, get on over to Northeast Kingdom and either order the vegetarian main of Cauliflower, which comes with creamed kale, potatoes, and roasted garlic, or order the kale salad which comes studded with tangy, creamy blue cheese. Either way, the dairy goes a long way toward cutting the intrinsic bitterness of the kale, making it even more delicious than you ever thought it could be.
18 Wyckoff Avenue, Bushwick