Are you an artichoke fan?

If you like artichokes, you need to try these food pairings

We are bidding farewell to the peak season of one of the most loved, popular and venerated vegetables on Riojan tables: artichokes. Highly seasonal, artichokes have virtually reached cult status and their presence in the markets is eagerly awaited every year by thousands of fans for their unique smooth texture and sweet and bitter flavour. 

Two protected geographical indications (PGI) exist in Spain, namely Artichoke of Tudela (Navarra) and Artichoke of Benicarló, in Castellón. Soon there will be a new PGI the Prat artichoke in Barcelona. These protected designations reveal the deep connection of the product with its geographical origin, which is consequently also reflected in traditional cuisines.

Artichoke recipes are versatile and deeply rooted, with dozens of variations ranging from the simplest grilled or roasted artichoke dish to the vegetable stews so typical of riverside cuisines. While in season, artichokes are also popular in rice dishes, in meat stews and in fish in sauce.

Traditional restaurants on the banks of the Ebro have always accorded artichokes a prominent place on their menus. This is the case of many restaurants in the vicinity of Muriel Wines, in Logroño, Rioja Alavesa and throughout La Rioja. This vegetable is also enjoying a new lease of life in modern cuisines. Some of the leading chefs of the current scene are creating new dishes that combine the quality of the finest ingredients with a daring perspective and the technical innovation of contemporary cuisine.

The picture below was taken at one of the finest eateries in Logroño today: Taberna de Herrerías. They grow their own artichokes in the family's vegetable garden and the result, paired here with Conde de los Andes Malvasía, is a prodigy of simplicity, flavour and perfect consistency.

Are you an artichoke fan?

Wine and artichokes: forget the clichés

We have mentioned wine and, when we talk about pairing artichokes with wine, we always do so with a note of caution. At the root of the matter is cynarin, a chemical substance which, as well as protecting the liver, is responsible for the bitter and metallic taste that emerges when it is mixed with red wine.

Some white wines can be the perfect pairing for artichokes. Much has been said about the distinctive affinity they have with Andalusian fortified wines. It is certainly an enticing experience to try and enjoy. In our case, we must mention a couple of interesting pairings that are very close to home. Two wines born in our cellars at Bodegas Ollauri. The first is Conde de los Andes Blanco. Rich and velvety and with balanced acidity, this wine fermented slowly in contact with the lees and matured for a long time in barrels and bottle (18 months overall). It is a delightful match for creamy, dense recipes, such as the region's quintessential artichokes with cured ham. 

The second pairing is more innovative and combines Conde de los Andes Semidulce (the 2003 vintage is now available) with a simple and succulent vegetable stew with artichokes, onions, garlic, tomatoes and parsley. All perfectly sautéed in olive oil with a dash of balsamic vinegar, in a recipe we borrowed from Gipsy Chef. The unique sweet and sour taste of vinegar works well with the flavour of the artichokes;  in fact, the dish pairs perfectly with the special combination of acidity and subtle sweetness of our semi-sweet wine.

Give it a try!

Are you an artichoke fan?
Are you an artichoke fan?"