On a Quest for Artichokes!

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.”

ARTICHOKE FIELD

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!

Pezzini Store

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!

RESTAURANT DYPTCH

BAR DYPTCH

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!

cooked food

Grilled Artichokes with lemon aioli with dill

Pasta with  baby artichokes, bacon, and fava beans

Pezzini Farms
460 Nashua Road
Castroville,  CA  95012
www.pezzinifarms.com

Phil’s Fish Market
7600 Sandholdt Road
Moss Landing,  CA  95039
www.philsfishmarket.com

Comments

  1. Teresa,

    Your photos and blog make me want to drive down to Castroville right now! Your photography is beautiful; vibrant colors and images that just jump out at you!

    And the recipes are perfect for springtime and Easter!

    Thank you!!
    Maryann

    • Teresa Giovanzana says:

      Thanks Maryann! Perhaps we will have to make a road trip together! Now you got me thinking about Easter….what to photograph????

  2. Food and Wine Enthusiast says:

    What a beautiful day! I can’t wait for our next adventure. I loved Pezzini Farms and will make it one of my regular stop down there. So happy we stumbled upon it.

    I sautéed my artichokes with olive oil, garlic and parsley and ate them as a side dish; fresh and delicious, yum! The leftovers went into a delicious omelette with gruyere. Looking forward to trying your pasta recipe.
    Thanks!
    Sue

    • Teresa Giovanzana says:

      Sautéed artichokes and Gruyere omelettes! Sounds delicious! Now I am going to have to try that. Strawberries next!

  3. Teresa,

    Your blog is like reading an adventurous travel and food diary!!! Sharng little known information like the “no-sign” as Phil’s Fish market and Restaurant is very valuable. I have driven that road myself many times, and never even knew of the restaurant…thanks for the great idea!! LOVE the recipes!!

    Keep taking pictures and traveling!

    Julia

  4. Sounds like a fun day-trip. Great photos and yummy recipes – you are in your element!

    Looking forward to seeing where you go next. One of these times, I’ll have to tag along!

    Teresa

  5. Isa Munne says:

    Teresa, this has turned out beautifully. Really great information as well!

    • Teresa Giovanzana says:

      Thanks Isa! It is a labor of love that is near and dear to the things that I love and mean so much to me. Thanks for leaving me a comment.

  6. Barbara McHale says:

    If you think you don’t like artichokes, think again. Pezzini’s is hands down the ONLY place to buy artichokes. You can’t get a good one in the grocery store, (not even local) or at the other produce stands. Pezzini’s artichokes are the only one’s grown from the rootstock, making them the tastiest ever. Try them and see for yourself.

    • Teresa Giovanzana says:

      Hi Barbara,
      Thanks for your comment! I could not agree more about Pezzini’s artichokes….absolutely delicious! And the most beautiful!

  7. Carol Atwell says:

    Your blog inspired me to take a day trip to Castroville and Moss Landing for artichokes and strawberries and then a side trip to Watsonville for pie at Gizdich’s. It brought back so many memories from my childhood, going to see my grandmother and combing the valley for fresh produce from her many friends. Still beautiful to look over the valley with all the fields of strawberries, lettuce and artichokes. Thanks for the reminder and the recipes, my artichokes didn’t last long enough to try them out (the guys dusted them just steamed with mayo), but I think I’ll just have to make a return trip.

    Really enjoy reading the blog, and as always looking at the fantastic pics!

  8. Hi Carol, Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to come back to the blog and leaving me this very wonderful comment! I am so glad that you had such a wonderful trip to the Salinas Valley and it reminded you of your childhood with your grandmother. Grandmothers and grandfathers provide some of the sweetest memories of your childhood…and those moments are always the simplest, purest, and ones brimming with love.

    I have never been to Gizdich’s….please tell me.

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