The sun colors the sky all shades of pink and purple at this time of year. It’s my favorite time to drive home from work because I often watch the sun set over the trees and the mountains. The stream of red taillights winding up in front of me becomes a part of the painting ahead. It’s a good time to write, so to speak. I write often on the road. And by write, I mean record my thoughts. Meaning, talking to myself, alone in my car. Usually, my recording sessions don’t last for more than five minutes. Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m on the move.
I was running on the treadmill at the gym when the idea of doing ‘Musical Pairings’ came to me. I’ve written many posts on trains and planes. I’ve even composed my thoughts in the middle of yoga classes, when you’re supposed to do anything but think. I think, if I should ever write a book, I will just fly from place to place and ride the train back and forth, just so the ideas keep coming.
As a city dweller, I tend to walk a lot. I walk to run small errands around the corner. I walk to and from my car, which is usually parked several blocks away from my house. I walk to my friends’ houses. And I walk just to walk. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday, in fact. My friend Megan recently wrote about her move to Seattle, and the adjustment that comes with learning a new place’s routines. One of the things she’s noticed about Seattle is how people get together not for dinner or a cup of coffee, but for a walk. I love this. Sure, it’s nice to sit still, and focus on a conversation, with a meal or a drink in front of you and the ability to fold your hands on a table, or lean in really close. But walking side by side with someone, in my opinion, generates even better conversation. When you’re moving forward, so are your ideas and thoughts. I have a little proposal for you: the next time you make plans to have dinner with someone, or coffee, or lunch, or brunch, suggest taking a walk afterwards. Or, walk to your destination.
Just as we move forward, so do our seasons. At this time of year, I anxiously await my favorite Spring jewels: peas, asparagus, strawberries, and artichokes. Yes, those big, spiky globes whose tiny ‘hearts’ are the sought-after delicacies we work hard to get to. California, and Monterey County, nearby our city of San Francisco, is especially famous for them in the United States. The little baby ones, though not as impressive looking as their larger kin, are nevertheless tasty, and perfectly amenable to a good skillet and a little oil. For years, I underutilized one of my now-favorite herbs: mint. It adds a freshness that I like to compare to Spring. In this little appetizer or side dish, we pan fry the littlest artichokes (see tips for trimming them, below), along with some mint, Meyer lemon zest (regular lemon zest is fine, too), and some anchovies. The anchovies hardly come into play, flavor-wise, but rather, create a good foundation for the fry.
Pan Fried Baby Artichokes with Mint and Lemon
*serves 2-4 as an appetizer
1 dozen baby artichokes, trimmed and sliced in half, length-wise (see these tips for trimming baby artichokes in Saveur Magazine)
zest from 1/2 Meyer lemon
3-4 anchovy fillets
salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon of finely chopped mint, plus more for garnish
juice from 1/2 lemon
1. As you clean and trim the artichokes, drop them into a bowl of cold water, with the juice of half of a lemon. Once you are done, drain the bowl and toss the artichokes with the zest, mint, salt, pepper, and about 1/4 cup of olive oil.
2. Heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the anchovy fillets until they break down. Next, add the artichokes, cut side down.
3. Lower the heat to medium and don’t move the artichokes for about five minutes. Flip one to see if it’s begun to brown (but not blacken). If it has, start flipping the others and let them cook on the other side for another 4-5 minutes. Continue cooking (flipping) until the artichokes are golden on both sides and feel tender when pierced with a fork.
Musical Pairings: Tennis – Young & Old + Pan Fried Baby Artichokes with Mint and Lemon
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