On a Quest for Artichokes!
Earlier this week, my friend Sue and I decided to go on a road trip to Monterey County. What possessed two women to drive 55 miles, over the Santa Cruz Mountains, and down highway 1 to Castroville? Artichokes! This sleepy coastal town prides itself in growing the most coveted artichokes in the nation and professes itself as, “The Artichoke Center of the World.”
Sue and I decided to make a day of it! We visited some fields to see the beautiful artichoke plants up close and then visited a number of produce stands on our artichoke quest along Highway 1. We stumbled upon Pezzini Farms’ Produce Stand located along Highway 1 in Castroville. The artichoke fields were right behind their stand, which workers pick daily in the morning, and then are processed and boxed in the back room of the store. Hands down, Pezzini Farms’ artichokes were the freshest and the most beautiful! The produce stand carries a collection of artichoke sizes from their famous jumbo, Green Globe, to large, medium, small, and extra small. They also sell prepared and prepackaged fried artichoke hearts. These little morsels can be taken home, fried, and eaten with Pezzini’s lemon aioli dipping sauce. The fried artichokes are also cooked on site where visitors can enjoy them while sitting at picnic tables overlooking the fields. We tried them…delicious! In addition to artichokes, the produce stand carries a variety of other seasonal produce from the Salinas Valley, as well as fresh pies, baked goods, jams, spices, condiments, etc. Sue and I were loaded up with our coveted artichokes!
All of the hiking through fields and shopping at Pezzini Farms had made us hungry. We decided to go visit another local institution in Moss Landing just north on highway 1….Phil’s Fish Market and Restaurant. I never knew about Phil’s until recently when a friend told me about the famous fish market and restaurant. Now, I have been driving this stretch of highway 1 for numerous years and had never seen this restaurant…nor a sign…because there isn’t one! Turn right onto Moss Landing Road and drive through the quirky and colorful town where other restaurants, antique shops, galleries, and a Bed and Breakfast can be found. Then turn right onto Sandholdt Road, which will lead you to Phil’s. The restaurant and oyster bar is packed with lunchtime guests, both locals and tourists, enjoying all kinds of delicious dishes from the sea. Sue and I enjoyed crab and shrimp stuffed artichokes while sitting in their sunny dining room. Phil’s is located next to the commercial fishing harbor right on the sand dunes overlooking the Pacific Ocean, which can be enjoyed by diners on their back patio on warm sunny days. Phil’s Fish Market is a fun and visually eclectic place to visit where Phil himself can be found on a daily basis. Thanks Phil!
Once I got I home, and surveyed my bounty of jumbo, medium, and extra small artichokes, I knew I was going to start cooking with the extra small ones. I had found a recipe for a pasta dish that called for baby artichokes, bacon, and fava beans. Sounded delicious. I also love artichokes simply steamed then finished off on the grill brushed with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and herbs. Delicious! Here is my cooking, styling, and food photography. Recipes attached. Enjoy!
460 Nashua Road
Castroville, CA 95012
Phil’s Fish Market
7600 Sandholdt Road
Moss Landing, CA 95039