On Saturday Sarah and I were riding around Collingwood and Fitzroy, during the AFL grand final, trying desperately to put together an outrageous present for our friend Genevieve’s birthday. We were looking for a giant red helium balloon, like the one in the French short film, The Red Balloon, to take to her birthday dinner. We were careening straight down the middle of empty streets, on one of the first warm days of spring. There was a feel like Christmas morning in the air. But of course the party supplies shops were closed for the footy, and we arrived at the dinner with simply a poesy full of flowers stolen from East Melbourne front gardens: freesias, magnolias, blossoms, wisps of greenery – and a Tupperware container of boiled artichokes.
Genevieve fed us all a giant pot of beef she had been stewing (and getting up in the middle of the night to stir) since the day before. Delicious. But before we settled down for the meat, we ate these artichokes. A table full of people dipping the leaves in vinaigrette and scraping the flesh from them, until we reached their plump little hearts.
Riding home was a little different to the afternoon – dodging drunkards yelling collections of words as hard to understand as riddles – but we had full bellies, and the promise of a spring Sunday park day to sustain us.
Artichokes with a French Vinaigrette
for the artichokes –
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Trim down your artichokes using a sharp knife. Leave about 6cm of the stems, and cut the tough outer leaves off until they start looking a lighter green, and feel as if they have a little flesh to them. Have a slice of lemon handy to rub the artichoke, as it browns quickly when cut. When your water has boiled, and your artichokes are neat put them into the boiling water for about 15 minutes. At this time test with a skewer, it shouldn’t be too soft, they should hold their shape, and the skewer should slide through with some resistance. If still hard, boil for a little longer. Drain and serve on a grand platter.
for the vinaigrette –
This is a version of the vinaigrette my family always makes for salads – but I upped the mustard content and snuck in a little tahini for the artichokes, so adjust as you see fit.
In a clean empty jam jar put:
2/3 olive oil
1/3 apple cider vinegar
tbsp Dijon mustard
a little garlic, very finely sliced
Shake jar well and serve in little bowls on the table with the artichokes. Have a bowl for discarded leaves too, and napkins for vinaigrette-y hands.