Hop on an Artichoke Field Tour - NBC Bay Area
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Hop on an Artichoke Field Tour

Leaf the world behind and find out how this magnificent thistle grows.

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    Attending the annual Castroville Artichoke Festival in Monterey? There's a way to go and see where chokies grow (and learn about the process, too).

    NO MATTER HOW OFTEN... you cook an artichoke, or devour an artichoke, or obsess about artichokes, or look at the items around your kitchen that are shaped like artichokes, from the timer to the bottle opener, this fact remains: You'll never not be a little astonished by this strange and spectacular edible. Is it an "unbloomed flower"? It is. Is it a thistle, one with sunflower-sweet cred? You bet. Do we consume it in a way that can't readily be compared to any other foodstuff and how exactly those other foodstuffs are eaten? All of this. Even if we simply chow down upon a few artichoke hearts, in a salad, we still sense the chokie's singular spirit, for an artichoke heart has the consistency of, well, an artichoke heart. In short, this beloved icon of the produce section is so amazing, and unusual, that just going to a festival devoted to its deliciousness may not be going quite far enough, at least in terms of address your insatiable curiosity. Good thing, then, that the Castroville Artichoke Festival, which flowers in Monterey at the Monterey County Fair & Event Center over the first weekend in June, offers...

    FIELD TOURS... for ten well-spent bucks a pop. This means, yes, you get to hop on a bus and go to where artichokes grow, and if seeing where they spring up, and learning more about the process of cultivating one of the world's best tastes and textures, doesn't address your astonishment, well, really, what can? Though, to be honest, we're not sure an artichoke aficionado can ever fully lose that particular wonder and awe, nor should they. The tours are led by "Artichoke Experts," they take about an hour and 30 minutes, all told, and they cost ten bucks, in advance, as mentioned. There will be a Field Tours booth at the festival, if you decide you'd like to burnish your chokie-based knowledge then and there. All the dippable details? Push that ramekin of melted butter or cold mayo to the side for one quick moment, and that plate of teeth-scraped leaves, and read all.