From Too Many Chefs -

August 14, 2006
Bear garlic potato salad

barlauch.jpgI've mentioned a few times the trips I've made to the salon de saveurs that takes place each spring and autumn in Paris. I invariably find a few interesting ingredients that sit at the back of the refrigerator or cupboard, waiting for me to be in desperate need of inspiration. Just before our holidays, I hosted a couple of barbecues on the terrace and so I was in desperate need of something quick and easy. I hit on the idea of using some of the Ramsons sauce I had purchased at the salon in a potato salad. Ramsons is also known as wood garlic or bear garlic. As you can see in the photo, the jar I bought was from Germany and so labelled "bärlauch", or "bear leek". I like that. I can just about see a brown bear delicately balancing a frond of bear garlic on his portion of freshly caught salmon before popping it in his big mouth. Before buying the jar, I tried a sample of it on a crouton. The vendors explained that they first toasted the bread and then sprinkled it with a little white wine and tossed it in a hot frying pan before cooling and spreading it with the sauce. (This sauce, by the way, seems to consist mainly of chopped bear garlic and vegetable oil with a couple of stabilisers thrown in for good measure.) The sauce is deep green and looks a bit like a very soupy pesto sauce. And the taste? Garlicky of course but with a herbal aftertaste. It's less sharp than fresh garlic, but somehow not as mellow as cooked garlic. It was extremely tasty and so I bought a jar.

For the potato salad, I decided to follow the example of the vendors and use a little white wine. It's really not a recipe: take a kilo of new potatoes and boil them until tender. You can cut the big ones in half if you like so they are all done at the same time. Toss them with three generous tablespoons of wild garlic sauce and a half glass of wine. Taste for salt and pepper - I added a generous amount of the latter.

I had toyed with the idea of using a vinegar with the bear garlic sauce, but decided it would clash with the flavour. The white wine really did add a nice crisp touch without overpowering the herb.

For a little more information on where ramsons grow and how long humans have been eating it (very), you can check out this short article in the wikipedia.

Posted by Meg in Sussex at August 14, 2006 4:10 PM

Meg could the Ramsons, the same or related to mountain Ramps found the southern part of the US. I love anything in the onion or garlic family.. Sounds like I have to make some potato salad for dinner.


Posted by gino on August 14, 2006 at 3:11 PM

Gino, I think they are definitely in the same family. According to Wiki, ramps are also known as wild leeks and have the latin name Allium tricoccum. Ramsons (Allium ursinum) are known as wood garlic or bear's garlic in English, but "bear leeks" in German!

I agree, though - love every member of the family I've met so far!

Posted by Meg in St. Charles on August 14, 2006 at 4:00 PM

It is the same family as our ramps here in the US, which by the way, grow all the way up the Applachian range to Canada! They are not just a southern US plant--they are a mountain plant.

The reason that they have the reputation for being a southern plant is because the poor hillbillies of the south made more use of it than the folks in the north. Now that Mario Batali has gotten hold of ramps and put them in his restaurants and on his shows, they are becoming popular in the northeast.

My hillbilly mother finds this ever so odd and amusing.

Meg--does bear garlic scent come through yor pores after eating it the way the smell of ramps does?

Posted by Barbara on August 15, 2006 at 6:59 PM

Barlauch ist zu Verkaufen! Im ganzen Jahr!

Posted by Baerlach on January 12, 2010 at 7:29 AM