Friday, August 22, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

From the ground up: Spaghetti Hill and artichokes

AnnEvansC

By
From page A10 | November 06, 2013 |

“You see, in the old days, everyone called this Spaghetti Hill because all the Italian fisherman lived here — they needed to be close to their boats and the wharf was right there,” Mary Guerra said, waving in the direction of the harbor. “It was good for their wives too. They could walk to the stores for their shopping — most of them didn’t drive,” said Guerra, food service manager at Monterey High School, whom we were interviewing for our blog, “Who’s Cooking School Lunch.”

She continued to tell us tales of Spaghetti Hill, part of the historic area known as the Lower Old Town, a cozy neighborhood of mixed historic architecture and a landscape full of citrus, olive, eucalyptus and pepper trees, and the occasional prickly pear cactus. We were pretty sure there were also fig trees and grapevines in the back yards, tucked out of sight.

Mary told us about great Italian family dinners — her mother was one of nine children — where they made raviolis, plenty of fresh pasta and, of course, lots of fish. “My husband and I both grew up here on Spaghetti Hill, only one block from each other. My grandfather was a commercial fisherman.”

We followed Mary’s directions as she pointed out different streets and locations, we realized that our hotel was right down the hill. The night before we — like the Italian fisherman of the old days — had walked out onto the wharf, not to fish but to eat fish. The wharf is lined with restaurants serving fish and the ubiquitous deep-fried artichoke. We opted for Domenico’s mostly because the tout in front (it seemed every restaurant had a sidewalk tout) promised us a harbor-side table and complimentary appetizers. Not too discriminating on our part, perhaps, but it was late and we were tired.

However, we were not disappointed. The appetizer turned out to be fresh, deep-fried anchovies, served with garlic mayonnaise, which we followed with a salad and a shared bowl of mussels. We ordered a local wine, and enjoyed the lights glittering on the bay before heading back to our hotel rooms at the Portola Hotel with a view of the same harbor.

We missed the deep-fried artichokes, but after leaving Mary and completing the last of our scheduled school lunch interviews in Seaside, we headed home through the vast fields of artichokes. Hoping to find a farm stand to buy some artichokes to take home, we stopped outside of Castroville; parked alongside a farm stand was a bright green food truck, the “Chokemobile,” where top billing went to deep-fried artichokes with a choice of three sauces — plus tacos, burritos and other Mexican fare.

How could we resist? We got an order of fried artichokes with garlic mayonnaise, and four carnitas tacos with everything. The artichokes had a little too much batter for our liking, but we’d try them again — or even make our own. The tacos were perfect — just the right amount of finely chopped white onion, cilantro and tomatoes, the pork well-seasoned, and the corn tortillas nice and hot and soft.

After lunch, we purchased our artichokes. Fresh artichokes should always squeak when you rub the leaves together, and the ones we checked at the stand not only squeaked, they were loud! A dozen baby artichokes and two extra-large each, plus a full stalk of Brussels sprouts and a chat with the stand manager about how she prepares them — “Sauté in olive oil with garlic” — and we were back on the road.

All in all, we were in Monterey less than 24 hours, but we concurred it was well worth the time and the visit. The air was salty with a little mist in it, the wharf and harbor nostalgic, and we had a taste of California history as we stood on Spaghetti Hill and listened to Mary’s stories. And we brought some of the coast back to us with bags of artichokes and stalks of Brussels sprouts.

Our only regret was that we didn’t have time to sample the spa facilities at our hotel and spend a little more time on the balcony, looking out over the harbor.

— Ann M. Evans and Georgeanne Brennan are coauthors of the award-winning “Davis Farmers Market Cookbook, Tasting California’s Small Farms,” (2012.) They have a food and agricultural consultancy, Evans & Brennan, LLC. Their national blog “Who’s Cooking School Lunch?” features personal stories of front line men and women cooking school lunch. Reach the blog at www.whoscookingschoolunch.com and Ann and Georgeanne at info@evansandbrennan.com.
————
Italian Stuffed Artichokes
The freshly torn bread absorbs the vinegar, olive oil, and seasonings to make a light, flavorful stuffing for the artichokes; the coarser the bread, the better. This dish makes an exceptional first course, one which takes a bit of convivial time to eat.

The ingredients:
4 medium-to-large artichokes
1 cup water
4 cups fresh bread crumbs, made from a coarse country bread, such as ciabatta or a rustic baguette
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1 bunch)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Putting it together:
Cut off the stem flush with the base and the top one-third (the prickly leaf ends) of each artichoke. Pour water to a depth of about 3 inches into a steamer pan, put the rack in place, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Place the artichokes, stem end up, on the rack, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and steam until the base of an artichoke offers little resistance when pierced with the tines of a fork, about 30 minutes. The timing will depend on the size and maturity of the artichokes.

Remove the artichokes from the steamer and set aside until cool enough to handle. Then, using a spoon, scoop out the central leaves from each artichoke, removing the thistles and any furry bits, to make a cavity about 1 1/2 inches wide. Set the artichokes aside.

In a bowl, combine the water and bread crumbs and stir to moisten the crumbs evenly. Let stand just long enough to soften the bread, anywhere from 15 seconds to several minutes, depending on how dry the bread is and how coarse the crumbs are. Squeeze the bread crumbs dry and transfer to a clean bowl.

Add the vinegar, parsley, garlic (if using), 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, the pepper, the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the bread and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. The mixture will appear fluffy but should be dense enough to hold its shape when squeezed into a ball. Add up to 1 tablespoon additional oil if needed to achieve the correct consistency.

Spoon about 1/4 cup of the stuffing into the cavity of an artichoke. Pry back a layer of the leaves, and tuck 1/2 teaspoon or so of the stuffing at the base of each leaf in the layer. Pry back another layer and repeat. Continue until you have filled all of the layers. The artichoke will expand like a flower. Repeat with the remaining 3 artichokes.

Cover the artichokes with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours before serving. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving. Serves 4.

— Adapted from the Davis Farmers Market Cookbook by Georgeanne Brennan and Ann M. Evans

Comments

comments

Georgeanne Brennan

.

News

City to overhaul its sprinkler heads, other water-wasters

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
No easy task: History buffs still trying to save building

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
DHS musicians back from summer in Italy

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Not-guilty plea entered in Woodland homicide case

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
 
Russian aid convoy reaches war-torn Luhansk

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Davis indecent-exposure suspect pleads no contest

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Putah Creek Council appoints new executive director

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A3

Communitywide ice bucket challenge on Sunday

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

 
Parents’ Night Out features Vacation Bible School

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Afternoon tours of city wetlands resume Sept. 6

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Yolo County golf tournament enters fourth year

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Saylor will meet constituents at Peet’s

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Event will unveil mural celebrating food justice

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Prunes take center stage at last agri-tour of the summer

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
In need of food? Apply for CalFresh

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Can you give them a home?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Wolk bill would require reporting of water system leaks

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Writing couple stops at Davis bookstore

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Explorit: Final Blast show returns for second year

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A5

Record drought saps California honey production

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
World travelers

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Seniors set to stroll through Arboretum

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Forum

Weightlifters causing a racket

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Bridging the digital divide with computational thinking

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

No support for militarization

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
A better use for this vehicle

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Police are our friends, right?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Wage plan has a big flaw

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

.

Sports

Watts likes what he’s seen in keen Aggie DB competition

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Watney and McIlroy struggle at start of The Barclays

By Wire and staff reports | From Page: B1

 
Light-hitting Cats fall

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Giants win nightcap in Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Sports briefs: Big West soccer coaches have high hopes for UCD men

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

.

Features

.

Arts

‘If I Stay’: Existential angst

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11

 
Davis Chinese Film Festival to kick off with 1994 favorite

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Rock Band campers perform at E Street Plaza

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Natsoulas to host mural conference

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

 
Yolo Mambo to play free show

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

.

Business

Car Care: Teenagers not driving safe cars, study shows

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Car Care: Feeling the summer heat? Your car battery is too

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Three-wheeled Elio gets closer to going on sale

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, August 22, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6