Hotels I've Loved: The Charlie Hotel in West Hollywood, Los Angeles

Work has been bringing me to Los Angeles more and more lately, and I've been using each trip as an opportunity to explore different neighborhoods and hotels.
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Pickled Ramps Escabeche (Puerto Rican Style Picked Ramps)

I was 20 minutes late to meet a friend for lunch last week. We've been friends since college, so he knew well enough to order a cocktail to sip until I arrived.

"Oooh, what's that?" I asked as I finally arrived, tossing off bags and sunglasses and waving the waitress over to put in my own drink order.

It was a martini. Served cold and garnished with pickled ramps instead of the usual olives.

"I've been all about the pickled ramps lately!" I exclaimed.

I know ramps are an annoying sort of thing to write about. They only grow in some parts of the country and even then only for about 5 minutes (give or take). But when you try them? You get it.  The look and texture of a scallion or spring onion, they're garlicky and grassy and majorly flavorful. I like them whipped into salad dressings or chopped in with the greens. I saute them and add to omelets and pastas and all sorts of other simple dishes.

This year was the first time I pickled them, and I chose an easy recipe by Puerto Rican chef José Enrique, who prepares them escabeche style.

Escabeche is a simple olive oil and vinegar pickling sauce that's served a lot in Puerto Rico (and much of the Caribbean). It's common with fish, plantains, and now...ramps!

Make a big batch to keep in a jar in the fridge. You can add them to your salads, as a garnish on top of grilled meat or, yes, in an ice-cold martini!

Like this recipe? Try my Easy Soy Sauce Vegetable Pickles or these Quick Pickled Red Onions!


Puerto Rican Style Pickled Ramps
Adapted from a recipe by Jose Enrique, Saveur

Ingredients
1 pound ramps, rinsed and patted dry, root ends trimmed
1/2 cup olive oil + more for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey
3 whole bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns


Directions
Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat (cast-iron works perfectly). Drizzle with olive oil and arrange the ramps on the skillet, cooking a few minutes on each side until charred. Sprinkle with kosher salt, then transfer to a glass jar or bowl.

In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil, vinegar, honey, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour the hot vinegar sauce over the ramps. Cover and let cool completely before serving or refrigerating. 



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Warm Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad with Chicken and Crispy Bacon "Croutons"

I was at lunch with an old friend when I spotted the dish that inspired this salad recipe. It was on the appetizer menu and listed as a Warm Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad. My friend was talking and I was pretending to listen, but in my brain I was just like YES YES YES!
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