Marilyn Monroe… queen of the screen, queen of platinum blond hair, and the first ever Californian artichoke festival queen. That’s right, Monroe had a soft spot forthese thorny thistles, and we don’t blame her, they are delicious from their meaty stalk right through to their fleshy heart.
100% of the United States’ artichokes are produced in California, the majority from a tiny town called Castroville, also known as ‘the artichoke center of the world.’ Castroville, just over 100km south of San Francisco, has been producing artichokes since the 1920s, the cool-summer Mediterranean climate and mild winters providing spot on conditions to promote optimum growth – just enough rain, cold and heat. Every year, the artichoke aficionados of Castroville, throw afestival in honour of their hero vegetable, complete with parades, car shows,farmer’s markets and cooking demonstrations. 2014 marked the festival's 55th anniversary.
One of the world’s oldest cultivated vegetables; the artichoke is well worth celebrating. In March 2014, we honoured these sweet and nutty vegetables witha Mediterranean inspired tasting menu. Guests enjoyed artichokes in a range of styles and forms including artichoke chips, consommé, focaccia, ravioli, arancini, and terrine. Charcuterie is a real love for Curtis, a true art form, so there will almost always be terrines, galantines, pâtés and/or confit on each of Maude’s monthly menus.
Of course, the tasting plates were so much more than artichoke nine ways. Beautifully, locally sourced ingredients from the land and the ocean came to the party, for example, ocean trout and trout roe to elevate an artichoke blini snack and beef cheeks, coulotte, broccoli and turnips sat atop an artichoke rosti for a more substantial dish.