Thursday, April 19, 2007
(If you are reading this post on a RSS reader, you might want to click through to Chez Pim for the slideshow.)
Thorny artichokes, l’artichauts épineux, épines, carciofi, these artichokes go by quite a few names around the Mediterranean. I was duly impressed the first time I saw them at the big market in San Remo a couple years ago. I’d never seen artichokes with such intimidating thorns before. They are vindictive little buggers too –and this I speak from first hand experience trimming them. I still go ouch every time I pick one up. You know, a little pre-emptive cry for the inevitable future.
According to many chefs and serious foodies I know –and the French Wikipedia even agrees- these thorny artichokes are perhaps the tastiest of all the artichoke varieties. Hence the thorns as a defensive measure, perhaps? In France they are found around Nice and the surrounding areas, whereas in Italy they appear to be everywhere –though the size (hence frightfulness) of the thorns varies some. Beside the deadly thorns, these artichokes are also marked by the gorgeous violet/lavender streaks and the shape that is more elongate and conical than the usual round Globe artichokes common in the US.
I’m not going to give you a primer on trimming an artichoke. Frankly I avoid that kitchen chore whenever I can. But my friend Sam at Becks and Posh did a lovely illustrated post on this very topic a while ago so go and check her out.
How do you cook these artichokes (or any artichoke) you wonder? When we were on our cooking vacation –is there a different kind?- in Mougins a while back, our friend Mikael did his take on the classic Provençale dish of Mediterraean Seabass and Artichokes for us. I’ve worked out a recipe here for you to try.
Seabass and poached artichokes in mandarin-olive oil emulsion