Fried Artichokes at Pezzini Castroville HWY 1
- Nathan P.
I've always been disappointed in the fried artichokes at the Giant Artichoke in Castroville. Greasy, weak batter and tasting very processed. The idea, however, is brilliant. Driving through fields or artichokes you can't help but want to eat one. So driving up Hwy 1 today and feeling a bit hungry after a very unsatisfying lunch at the pho king Pho King in Seaside I spotted the Pezzini farms sign at the Nashua exit and decided to buy a few chokes. Now IMO, none of these roadside veg. stands are any better than my local shops, and some nice Swanton chokes would probably be better, but the convenience factor won out this afternoon. The pleasant surprise was to see a food truck on the outside advertising fried artichokes ($5.50). Now I am sure a good fritto misto including fresh artichokes fried in EVOO would blow these away but they were a big step up over the Giant Artichoke. The chokes themselves were overdone (though I am someone who quite likes raw artichokes) but they had much less of a processed/freezer taste. The batter was very crunchy, not too greasy or overly thick. They needed a bit more salt but that is easy to fix. I skipped the tartar sauce which makes no since to me and on a further visit I would ask for a slice of lemon or buy one at the vegetable stand. Plus you can eat them on the hood of your car while admiring the artichoke fields a few feet away (and there are a lot of chokes on them right now). Recommended as a roadside snack.
Nashua Rd. & Hwy. 1
Thanks for the roadside report and photo, Nathan. I remember seeing that farmstand when we drove through last time. I still haven't tried the artichokes from the Giant Artichoke, but have wanted to after seeing Eric Eto's report and photo (linked below).
He mentions that the restaurant version is superior to the farmstand's, so that is something to keep in mind. I also like the idea of ranch dressing as opposed to tartar sauce, which just seems wrong for fried artichokes.
Of course, I'm curious about both now and will perhaps have to do a head to head (or heart to heart?) tasting next time we're driving through. Care to elaborate on your lunch at Pho King? We weren't that impressed after our lunch a couple months back either.
re: Carb Lover
Yeah I am comparing to the restaurant though as I recall the restaurant and the farmstand next to it share the same kitchen but I could be mistaken. I will anxiously await your comparison! The woman cooking the artichokes at Pezzini is also related to the owners of the vietnamese/chinese restaurant in seaside. In addition to the fried artichokes, you could buy eggrolls and a range of asian cookies and green tea.
Pho King started off with bad cha gio. Wheat wrappers, very greasy, mushy filling with very little flavor. The pho was ok- recognizable as pho broth though not a great one. And my big clump of noodles were very mushy :( The only interesting note were large chunks of tendon in the meatballs so I am assuming those are made in house though they were not particularly flavorful.
On my way back to Salinas yesterday I had a chance to stop at Pezzini to try the French fried artichokes. Yep, I've been driving past without stopping for decades.
The green-colored truck that serves up the food is called The Choke Coach. The current price for fried artichokes is $6 for six pieces, including a choice of dipping sauces. I went with the lemon-dill mayo. Steamed and grilled artichokes are also available.
They're fried to order, so be prepared to wait a few minutes. The hard and brittle oil-soaked crust tended to make me wonder if these were made from the frozen bags of fried artichokes for sale inside the farmstand. But I can't say for sure. Dusted with some Kraft parmesan cheese and enjoyed at one of the outdoor tables on a sunny afternoon, these meaty hearts made a nice snack that scratched that itch for a while.
We love the tacos @ Pezzini Farms! I prefer the artichoke hearts at Giant Artichoke over Pezzini's. Their tacos rock, tho! :)