Much of the South is blanketed in pollen right now. Cars are coated in a lime-green color. The streets are lined with it. The latest counts are in the thousands. Look out of a window, if you still can, and you’ll see pollen everywhere. Step outside and you’ll probably get a dusting yourself.
That pollen count has not escaped Joey Ward, executive chef at Gunshow, who has been dusting a vegetable plate at the restaurant with a thick layer of Georgia olive oil-infused fennel pollen on recent nights.
Ward starts with a bed of what he calls buttermilk "rampch," a creamy dressing that is less Hidden Valley and more defined by the pungent, herbaceous flavor of the foraged ramps cut into it. From there, he arranges a miniature cornucopia of vegetables in various forms: blanched fiddleheads, roasted and pickled beets, baby carrots, English peas, Easter egg radishes, artichoke hearts, fermented turnips, asparagus, sorrel, tiny crispy potato chips and little edible flowers.
It is a light dish that cuts through the sometimes meat-heavy barrage of dishes that can arrive at Gunshow. But it is also a reminder: Underneath all of that pollen, the bounty of spring is on the way. Just don’t forget to take your allergy pill.
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