2 large whole globe artichokes
A small bowl of vinaigrette per person
Carefully cut the stalk of each artichoke to ensure that once cooked it will sit straight on the plate. If they have little thorns at the end of the outer leaves these can be cut off with kitchen scissors - more cosmetic than essential.
Boil the artichokes in a large pot of salted water (you can add any combination of a slice of lemon, a bayleaf , a clove of garlic, to taste) for at least 45 minutes, or until an outer leaf can be easily pulled off.
Obviously the larger the artichoke the longer it will need to boil.
Remove from the water and drain well by leaving them upside down for a while.
Serve them on individual plates, with outer petals slightly opened - flower-like.
Give each person an individual bowl of sauce, in this case vinaigrette, and make sure everyone is within reach of a large bowl for the discarded leaves.
Serve with good crusty French-style bread
Red wine vinegar (incidentally, the word ‘vinaigre’ comes from vin = wine, aigre = sour).
Dijon mustard (moutarde forte)
Freshly ground salt and pepper
Put one part vinegar, freshly ground salt and pepper and a dollop of mustard in the jar, leaving plenty of room for 3 parts oil to be added later. Close the jar and shake vigorously.
Now add the 3 parts olive oil and shake vigorously again, to emulsify the whole mix. The amount of olive oil used is to taste.
This method can make you as much as you want, depending on the size of the jar you use. Seasoning is to taste. Mustard should amount to about 1 quarter to 1 third of the vinegar by volume.
Detach a leaf or petal, dip the fleshy pulpy part at the base of the leaf into the sauce, then scrape it off by pulling it through your front teeth. Throw away the remains. When all the leaves are gone and you’ve reached the ‘choke’ - cut out the inedible central part that the French sometimes call ‘le foin’ (the straw). This leaves you with the whole point of the exercise - the heart. Pour over your remaining sauce....and enjoy!
"My introduction to this was on my very first date with Patrick, when he prepared these for me as described. It was love at first bite. I like it served with a vinaigrette, just as Patrick traditionally served it that first night - but you can also serve with melted butter, with or without garlic."