Friday, 15 February 2008

Artichokes and wine

I can't resist artichokes. Our plants in the garden won't produce for two or three months yet, so when I found them in the market this week at four for 2€ I had to buy some. I use my own simple version of an Italian recipe my sister taught me: cut the tops of the leaves off and the stalks, leaving the heart, choke (you can remove the choke at this stage if you have time) and bases of the leaves, put in an ovenproof dish with olive oil, garlic and rosemary, sprinkle with salt and pepper and the juice of half a lemon, add a good glassful of white wine. Cover the dish with foil and put it in the oven at 170˚ C for about an hour, depending on the size of the artichokes. Serve hot, warm or cold, with crusty sourdough bread. This method of cooking preserves all the flavour of the artichokes, some of which can be lost when you boil them.


Today we needed to buy some wine so we went to our favourite domaine at Roquessels. This village is on a south-facing hillside in the Faugères Appellation Controlée area, with its distinctive schiste terrain. Wherever vines aren't cultivated there are olive trees, arbutus, evergreen holm oak, wild rosemary and thyme - the garrigue typical of this area. The Estève family have been growing vines on these slopes and making wine for five generations. They bottle an excellent range of wines and their top-quality Cuvée Elégance Chateau des Adouzes and Plô des Figues are real special-occasion wines. This time we bought just a 10-litre bag-in-box of red - the best every-day drinking wine we've found yet. Their website is at

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