California Dreamin’

My husband and I just returned from an amazing weekend in Napa Valley with friends of ours. It was a much-needed escape into a enormous Garden of Eden. The scenery and life there are completely breath taking.

We visited some amazing wineries and drank some even more amazing wines. Okay, “some” is an understatement. My favorite winery visit had to be at Frog’s Leap. Along with the fantastic wine they produce, they have an amazing biodynamic garden of herbs and produce. This is where I saw my first artichoke bush and pomegranate tree. It’s amazing to see how things really grow. We walked around with our guide Erin who told us all about the wine, the garden, and the earth-saving philosophies of the Frog’s Leap owner, John Williams. We walked away with a lot of wine and some free chard, flowers, and peppers that they were offering at the front door. It was by far my favorite winery experience of the entire trip.
At the end of each day, with our wine-induced purple teeth we came back to the house we rented and cooked up some fantastic foods to top of the already gluttonous day.

Steaks, pork tenderloin, local cheeses, fruit, braised brussles spouts, wild rice, roasted potatoes with fresh rosemary, beet salad, grilled artichokes, pear turnovers with ice cream and cranberry sauce. These are just to name of the few foods we ingested while there. The list really goes on and on. As you can imagine, I am a few pounds heavier upon return, but well worth it.

There were so many good foods that I couldn’t decided which recipe to share, but I think I will get to most of them eventually.

Grilled Artichokes with Tarragon Dipping Sauce

serves 4
4 whole artichokes
3 Tb Mayonnaise
1/4 c Dijon Mustard
2 Tb Fresh Tarragon, chopped
Salt & Pepper
Bring a large stock pot full of well salted water to a rolling boil. Cut stems and the top quarter off the artichoke. Peel off first layer of leaves. Cut in half from top to bottom. With a knife of spoon, remove the furry piece in the middle, being extra careful not to remove the heart that is directly below. Place in water and boil until leaves are tender, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the grill. Mix mayo, mustard, and tarragon sauce. Place in a dipping bowl.
When artichokes are finished boiling, remove from water and place on hot grill over medium heat. Grill for a few minutes on each side until grill marks appear.
Serve 2 halves to each person. Eat by removing each leaf, dip, and scrape the “meat” off the bottom of each leaf with your teeth. Make sure to eat the very bottom of the choke. This is the heart which is very tender and flavorful.

5 thoughts on “California Dreamin’

  1. KayKat

    Ok, looks like I’ve finally stumbled upon a recipe that uses fresh artichokes – I have several sitting in my organic delivery from last week, thanks for the idea on how to use them!


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