fennel/chili-crusted tuna, garlic flower; artichoke provençal

It was delicious, the tuna possibly the best either of us had ever had, and I think it was a pretty sturdy Mediterranean meal, even if the description hadn’t occurred to me until we had sat down to enjoy it. The recipe is from Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, found in their book, ‘Italian Easy’; Recipes from the London River Cafe‘.

  • two thick 7-ounce tuna steaks from P.E.&D.D. Seafood Company, rinsed, dried, tops and bottoms seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, brushed or ‘paved’ with almost 2 tablespoons of a mix of a generous amount of incredibly wonderful dried Semi di Finocchietto Ibleo (wild Sicilian fennel seed harvested in the Iblei Mountains), from Eataly Flatiron and a little dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia in the Chelsea Market, both first crushed together in a porcelain mortar and pestle, then pan-grilled above a medium-high flame for little more than a minute or so on each side and finished on the plates with a good squeeze of the juice of an organic Mexican lemon from Chelsea Whole Foods Market, a scattering of garlic flowers from Alewife Farm (a touch which has become a thing for me over the last few days, but it’s not a bad obsession) and  a drizzle of Chelsea Whole Foods Market Portuguese house olive oil

  • Artichokes Provençal Style, also (mostly) following a recipe from Mark Bittman, which began with the preparation of more than a dozen one-ounce artichokes, among the last from a box at the Union Square Greenmarket stand of Alewife Farm that day (removing the outer leaves, trimming the stem, cutting off the top third, and slicing in half lengthwise) while a little olive oil and 2 fresh garlic cloves, smashed first, their skins then removed, from Alex’s Tomato Farm in the 23rd Street farmers market were heated inside a large antique copper pot over low heat, and when the oil had begun to sizzle, adding a handful of pitted oil-cured black olives, the leaves from a few branches of fresh rosemary from Stokes Farm, a pinch of sea salt, and the artichoke halves (cut side down), the heat raised a bit and the chokes moved around until they had browned, at which time roughly 11 ounces of tomatoes, a mix of ‘the best cherry tomatoes’ from Stokes Farm and one chopped ‘beefsteak tomato’ from Jersey Farm Produce, also in the 23rd Street market, were added, along with a splash of water, and everything cooked, with the pot covered for part of the time, until the artichoke halves were tender, the dish seasoned to tastes, some chopped fresh parsley, again from Stokes Farm, added, served with more of the herb sprinkled on top, for garnish and served [NOTE: it can also be served at room temperature, which makes this recipe convenient for many occasions]
  • the wine was a Spanish (Castilla Y Leon/Bierzo) white, Abad Dom Bueno Godello 2017, from Garnet Wines
  • the music was Vincenzo Bellini’s 1830 opera, ‘I Capuleti e i Montecchi’, Fabio Biondi conducting Europa Galante