Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Artichokes - for a Few More Weeks Only

There are baby artichokes at the farmer's market right now (at Bill Maxwell's stand, anyway). There are never all that many so you have to get there pretty early if you want them. And you do, you want baby artichokes. They will be here for maybe another few weeks.

I love eating artichokes as much as the next guy but I've given up on cooking with the "adult" versions. Too much work for not enough gratification. I say this fully aware of the fact that I am not doing it right, but that's an issue for another day. The great thing about baby artichokes is that they require so much less prep work, and it feels like there is more to eat.

There is prep work, though. I trip the stems, but not all the way. I peel off the outer leaves that are pointy and tough and then I use kitchen shears to snip off the ends. Drop these in lemon water in order to prevent them from browning. Now there are choices to be made. You can slice them very thinly and eat them raw. You can slice them and cook them with any number of herbs or other vegetables. You can slice them coarsely and use them to top a pizza. For most preparations, I like to drop them in boiling water for a minute before cooking. This softens them a bit without robbing them of their fresh flavor (make sure to drop them in a cold water bath after the boiling water).

They look awfully cute at this point, don't they? You could slice them in half and fry them now, or put them in a jar with olive oil, vinegar, and salt. My favorite simple stand-by recipe involves slicing them somewhat thinly, cooking them with a bit of garlic, finishing with herbs like mint and rosemary, and then tossing this with spaghetti. Some grated Parmesan cheese for a bit of umami, and voila - delicious. And trust me on the rosemary here. It turns out that there is a wonderful synergy between rosemary and fresh artichokes.

What to drink with this dish? Some folks would have you believe that artichokes and good wine are mortal enemies, killing each other with reckless abandon. I've not had this problem, to be honest. Not that I'm opening my good Meursault here, but there are options. Acidic white wines work well. This time I went with rosé.

The 2011 Domaine les Fouques Côtes de Provence La Londe is a truly excellent rosé, and it costs $18 at Chambers Street Wines where it is imported directly by David Lillie. It's very tasty immediately, but it's sort of a shame to drink the whole bottle because the wine really comes to life on the second day with complex aromas, real depth of flavor, and a great texture that is both salty/grainy and silky at the same time. David Lillie, by the way, is a real wine pioneer, and he is interviewed by Levi Dalton on I'll Drink to That. Worth a listen.

1 comment:

keithlevenberg said...

This looks fantastic.