Roman-style fried artichokes, will you marry me?
It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to Europe—my relocation from East coast to West has made those trips, once a short hop from Boston, about six hours longer, so for the time being I’m contenting myself with trips to more SF-friendly destinations, like Hawaii. But I have a deep nostalgia for my European vacations, weeks given over to good eating and exploration. No city captured my love quite like Rome, though. There, the people drove like maniacs, and even a couple of bottles of wine into the night, riding in the back of a taxi, I still wasn’t relaxed enough to shake the feeling I was about to die. There, gelato is considered a snack food, indulged in by all at any time of day. There, every little bar or tiny restaurant sells one of the world’s finest foods, called carciofi alla giudia, Roman-style artichokes flattened and fried until crisp, sprinkled with coarse salt. I’ve never seen them outside of Rome, where I ordered plate after plate, trying to memorize the flavor.
Last week, I watched A16 chef Nate Appleman do a cooking demonstration down at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay as part of their “Inside the Kitchen” series (though it’s coming to an end soon, the series will be reprised again next year with a new group of chefs). I chose Nate’s demonstration in part because S.P.Q.R., the new restaurant from the A16 group, is about to open (September 22nd, they claim) and I was hoping to pick his brain about what we should all expect. Mostly, though, I wanted to know if they’d be making those artichokes.
Good news, gang. Though S.P.Q.R. won’t have wood-burning ovens, they will have deep fryers, so the carciofi alla giudia will be in full effect. The menu is broken into three catergories: Antipasti (subcategorized under cold, hot and fried), Pasta and Entrees. It all looks so craveably delicious, I don’t know what I’ll do—carbonara, amatriciana, straciatelli, oh my! But one thing I’m sure of: There will be many plates of fried artichokes on my table.