killing time between meals

where talking about what's for dinner while you're at lunch is totally acceptable


The Art of Artichokes

One of my current obsessions is artichokes. And since I’ve been ordering them all over town, it seems I accidentally entered myself in a local artichoke-off.

Contender #1: J. Alexander’s Steamed Artichokes
Served with a rémoulade, these were nice and salty, but something was missing. It was too plain. (BTW—their site shows a photo of a grilled artichoke, but when I ordered it, the thing was just steamed. Promise. Also, there’s not a menu available online. What’s that about? Psh.)

Contender #2: City House‘s Steamed Artichokes with Crab Dip
I thought the crab dip would come on the side, but it was all right on top. The concoction of creamy dip & fresh artichoke topped with crunchy breadcrumbs was tasty, but it was a little awkward to eat. I wasn’t sure if I should pull the leaves off and dip them, or just eat the dip with a fork to get to the heart of the matter. It was too much.

Contender #3: Bricktop’s Grilled Artichokes
Grilled with butter and/or olive oil, these artichokes came with a salty-charred flavor, plus aioli and drawn butter for dipping. It was juuuuuust right! My bestie Amy (who has good taste in food and design, as you can see from her blog) and I have gone back many times simply because we are craving this.

Bricktop’s version was the clear winner, so I wanted to try and recreate it at home. I found this recipe that I tweaked ever so slightly. The result was divine! I cannot wait to make & eat these again. So simple. So delicious.

Garlicky Grilled Artichokes
Makes 4 servings

2 large artichokes, trimmed, halved & chokes removed
2 lemons
3/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Fill a large bowl with cold water, and squeeze the juice from one lemon into it. Trim the tops off the artichokes, cut them in half lengthwise, and scrape out the fuzzy choke with a spoon. Place the halves into the bowl of lemon water to keep them from turning brown.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat.
  • Add artichokes to boiling water, and cook for about 15 minutes. Drain and refrigerate until you are ready to grill.
  • Squeeze the remaining lemon into a bowl. Stir in the olive oil, garlic, and salt & pepper.
  • Using a brush, coat the artichokes with the garlic dip. Grill the artichokes for 5 to 10 minutes, basting with dip and turning frequently, until the tips are slightly charred.
  • Place a small cube of butter in the center of each hot artichoke half. Sprinkle artichokes and remaining dip with parsley, and serve immediately.

Here are some photos of the process. Enjoy!

Next time, I think I will:

  • Not share these with anybody.
  • Maybe look for a stuffed version that I can broil in the oven and get the same charred goodness.


A favorite restaurant with a favorite person

Last night I got to dine at one of my favorite Nashville restaurants, City House, with one of my favorite people—Mary Katherine, who has been my friend since 2nd grade. We even moved to Nashville together 9 years ago! She is the best.

After much hem hawing over where to have dinner, City House sounded delish, but I never thought we could get in on such short notice. But MK found one last table for two at 5:15. Senior citizen came in after us. No kidding. But we didn’t care because we got to eat an amazing meal at a fair price.
Side note: I overheard the little 75-year-old man say to his lady, “Too bad you’re on the wagon, because this cocktail is amazing!” They were so cute. MK and I agreed that we want to be like them when we are 75.
Here’s the dinner menu we got to choose from:

MK and I shared everything, as we often do, so that we both get more variety. A good plan, no? I recommend it.

We started with the octopus. It was crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and salty-good. Some people are weirded out by octopus & squid, but I love it. Some say it’s too chewy for their taste, but if it’s cooked correctly, it should be tender, not rubbery. If you’ve never tried it, start with ordering calamari. It’s not as intimidating (or scary-looking, for some people) since it’s usually sliced into rings and fried. And who doesn’t like fried stuff?

For the main course, we shared the turnip green pizza and the bread gnocchi. Both were awesome, but the pizza blew us away. Turnip greens on a pizza? Yes. Cooked in a wood-burning over and paired with spicy chilies, garlic, pecorino, and the perfect crust, the pizza made our taste buds freak out. In a good way.

To polish things off, we ordered the “Caramel Custard Pie, Marscapone Crema with S + P Pecans” for dessert.

Oh. My. Gosh.

Stop whatever you are doing and go eat this. It was heaven. I’m talking, plate-lickable, people. The caramel custard was creamy and sweet and velvety and a-mazing. I am still dreaming of this dessert. Thanks, Chef Tandy.

Just another delightful visit to City House with wonderful company. Already looking forward to next time!