Eat Your Heart Out
To prepare an artichoke for cooking (try one of these recipes!), use a sharp knife to cut off the stalk so it rests on its bottom. With a serrated knife, trim off top 2.5 centimetres of artichoke; then remove tough outer (green) leaves at base, until you reach the ones that are mostly yellow. Using kitchen shears, trim off the sharper, pointed tips of remaining leaves.
Pull out purple-tinged, prickly leaves in centre. With a small spoon, scoop out and discard hairy choke to reveal the heart. Cut artichokes in half vertically (or leave whole if poaching or steaming to serve with dip), then again into desired number of wedges. As you work, rub cut surfaces of artichoke with lemon to prevent browning.
When artichokes are on the menu, choosing a wine can be difficult. The chemical cynarin, found in artichokes, lends a distinctive metallic taste to most wines and can make several taste sweeter than they actually are.
Many wine lovers agree that the best possible beverage to serve alongside artichokes is fresh water. This is not to say, however, that you can't enjoy white or red wine when serving this vegetable. Select a tart, crisp Italian white such as Vernaccia, or a simple Soave or Orvieto. Artichokes are enjoyed to the extreme in southern Italy, so choosing an unpretentious red wine from Apulia, Sardinia or Sicily is another good option. If the red wine is acidic, such as a classic Chianti, even better. -Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh