Roses, artichokes and flies..

It’s been an amazing spring here in New England. There’s been a lot of good rain followed by warm weather, so the countryside looks fantastic–green and lush, with flowers everywhere and lots of budding fruit (and sadly, lots of flies, too–the sheep farmers must be having a difficult time of it this spring with fly-strike, though the cattle farmers, their beasts flank-deep in sweet pasture, shouldn’t be whingeing). I just love the look of it all. The roses are fragrantly out in our walled garden, and the sweet peas, and the espaliered almond and apricot trees have finally got some very nice-looking fruit on them, after years of taunting us by coming out with gorgeous blossom, followed by tiny fruit which are bitten off by the unpredictable late frosts we get here. The hops(which my Worcestershire lad of a husband grows out of nostalgia for his little green corner of central west England)are beautiful too this year, growing enthusiastically up their strings, green-shading the western windows and climbing right up to the roof. and the vegie garden is producing heaps: peas of three kinds, sugar-snap, snow, and standard, so many of them that you could heap your plate with them; broad beans; lettuce of all sorts; capsicum, chilli and eggplant starting in the greenhouse, herbs of all kinds. And artichokes.

Ah, artichokes! They’re one of my favourite things; they have the smell of memory to me. They are my madeleines, if you will. On my site, I’ve got an essay that might interest those of you who’d like to

read it

My husband and kids aren’t as keen on artichokes as I am–they reckon they’re too much like hard work, having to peel off all the tough leaves, dipping the ends of the better ones in vinaigrette, before getting to the scrumptious heart, but I love them, and always will. They are spiky and difficult plants but so rewarding..We have them in vinaigrette, still my favourite, (and the only way you can really eat the whole thing) and also the hearts cooked with garlic and olive oil and tomatoes and olives…
They are an end of spring thing–when they go to seed, the blue-purple flowers attracting heaps of bees, you know that the sweetcorn won’t be long, and the tomatoes, and the zucchini..and all the summer berries in their prickly rows. You know Christmas isn’t far away.

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Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2024 years ago

Funny coincidence, Sophie – I was looking at restaurant menus at St. Lucia village last night with my partner (while we waited for our fish ‘n’ chips from the excellent ‘A Salt & Battery!) and noticed a new restaurant with a very artichoke-centric menu!

Always nice to see a Proust reference when it comes to talking about food too!

2024 years ago

What about that, Mark! What sorts of dishes did they have? I wonder if they made them from scratch with fresh artichokes?
In London I went to dinner once with my publisher at a very nice pub/restaurant called The Queen’s Head and Artichoke! Truly a surreal piece for my collection..And not an artichoke dish in sight!

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2024 years ago

Pastas, salads, and a few other things! It was closed last night, but looked like a nice spot so may well have used fresh artichokes… I’ll try and remember the name of the restaurant!

There was once a restaurant in New Farm whose menu consisted of nothing but spinach. Spinach pasta, spinach risotto, spinach pizza, spinach bread etc. I’m quite partial to spinach but it was a little short on choice – didn’t stay open long!