On Sunday, we finally took a road trip to Cincinnati to check out the Hyde Park Farmers’ Market. Our curiosity had been whetted by stories from farmer friends (met at our local market but now exclusively appearing in Hyde Park). The farmers spun tales of Cincinnatians’ bigger appetite for delicacies such as zucchini blossoms and other fare that Louisvillians find “too exotic” (read: afraid to buy). So, GPS engaged, we buzzed up I-71 and wended our way through Columbia Parkway to Hyde Park. The market was definitely a different experience than our familiar, genial Norton Commons market or the bustling Bardstown Road market. The lines for the best Hyde Park vendors were very, very long, but there was a distinct sense of organization in the lines. It was a very different vibe from Bardstown Road, where “lines” are a fuzzy concept at best, constantly shifting and changing with the introduction of loose dogs, gossipy Highlands neighbors or ADD-suffering vendors. The higher prices made us understand why some of our favorite farmers no longer bother to come to the Louisville markets. But as they promised us (though they were too busy to say “hello” this time) there were many things that we seldom, if ever, see in Louisville.
One veg that fit both the “expensive” and “too exotic for Louisville” categories were some beautiful “baby” artichokes. (They’re really not babies, just small thistles from the bottom of the plant.) They made a nice side dish for a beef stew with carrots and olives.
At $2 a pop, after cleaning they cost about $1 per bite. Were they worth it? At that price, probably not. But if you live in California (where we hear they practically give baby artichokes away), here’s a tasty way to prepare them.
ROASTED BABY ARTICHOKES
Clean and trim baby artichokes. You have to get rid of a lot of the outside leaves, pulling away until the dark green leaves are gone and what are left are mostly light green/yellow. There are many instructions on the Internet, including here. Cut each artichoke in half and drop immediately into a saucepan of water with the juice of a lemon.
Simmer the artichokes in the lemon water for about 5 minutes. Drain.
Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. In the pan, toss the artichokes with olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for 7-8 minutes.