Okey dokey artichokey

The thing is, I’m not one to question a cool new thing – if someone tells me this [insert cool new thing here] is the coolest, newest thing, I want it to be. I mean, who doesn’t love a cool new thing? I want to learn about it and then I want to tell my friends about it. Thus making myself cool by association (I am not at all cool but a girl can dream).

So when I spotted the brown-tinged, slightly forlorn looking artichokes labelled “frost kissed” with a label that speaks in the first person, “Frost Kissed™, To Delicious (sic), Once cooked, I transform into a perfect green artichoke with an enhanced, nutty flavor,” I was intrigued. This, I figured, must be the coolest new thing in food today. Then I tried them. 

Things you should know about the Frost Kissed™ Artichokes – first, that “Frost Kissed” is a trade mark. Second, that artichokes become “Frost Kissed” at temperatures below 32º. “The outer layer turns brown, flakes and peels, much like a sunburn.” That reference to scorched human flesh notwithstanding, I decided to give them a whirl.

They were to be a light, post day-at-the-beach supper with a gentle lemon butter sauce and a chilled rosé. I cooked them in the simplest possible way: blanched until just on the too-firm side of cooked, cooled in an ice-bath, drained immediately, removed choke, then back into boiling water for a few minutes at supper time.

While draining and removing the choke I was amazed at the amount of water coming out of them and thought, as you do, that it could not possibly be the fault of the coolest new thing, that I must have overcooked them. When it came to eating, the results were, predictably, disappointing. The leaves were waterlogged and had very little flavor.

I persevered. I knew that the soggy artichoke experience must have been my fault. So on Saturday I headed to the farmers’ market and bought a regular globe artichoke, the kind not kissed by frost and without any of those creepy sunburnt flesh references. I then went to the store and bought a Frost Kissed™, slightly brown artichoke and decided to try again.

Before cooking I went onto the Frost Kissed™ website to make sure I hadn’t missed a clever cooking trick – their cooking recommendations were pretty similar to what I was doing, the only real difference being that they used plain salted water while I added a couple of lemons, bay leaves and peppercorns to my pot. So I did not alter  my cooking method.

I did, however, stand dutifully over the pot during the whole cooking time, constantly checking the tenderness of my thistles to ensure I didn’t overcook them. The website advises cooking globe artichokes for between 30 and 45 minutes depending on their size. Mine did not take that long. The Frost Kissed™ was ready to come out of the pot after boiling for 18 minutes and the regular one was ready after 24 minutes – the regular was a bit larger but I think the difference in cooking time was more down to the water content of the Frost Kissed™ artichoke.

Again, I cooled them in an ice-bath and drained them upside down. Again, the quantity of water that came out of the Frost Kissed™ artichoke was astonishing compared with what came out of the other.

I have a friend who says, “The proof of the pudding is on the wall,” and I think in this case that mixed metaphor might apply. The texture of the regular artichoke was far better than the Frost Kissed™ and the taste was, well… artichokey. The flavor of the Frost Kissed™, however, was a bit more intense than the regular globe – and perhaps I had overcooked the first one a bit and diluted the flavor.

Given the choice, which would I choose? I preferred the regular artichoke and, barring an intense artichoke craving (I haven’t had one yet, but I hear they happen), I don’t think I’d rush to buy the Frost Kissed™ again.

I like the idea though, that farmers and supermarkets are finding a place for produce damaged by less than perfect weather and urge you to give the Frost Kissed™ variety a go. I don’t think the supermarket or the producer is trying to dupe anyone into buying an inferior product, it’s still pretty good and they’re not calling it “the coolest new thing in food” with a matching price tag. The Frost Kissed™ and the regular artichokes were both priced at two for $5. Perhaps my cooking method was wrong, maybe these artichokes would do better if roasted in foil with a drizzle of olive oil, thus eliminating the addition of water to an already watery product. Maybe next Frost Kissed™ season I’ll give that a go. Or if you give them a go, please let me know the results.

Visit Ocean Mist for more information about Frost Kissed™ artichokes. Even if you don’t want to know more about Frost Kissed™ artichokes their website is worth a few minutes of your time, they have loads of other artichoke information on there.