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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

No. 90: Esperpento's Alcachofas a la Plancha

Posted By on Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Esperpento's alcachofas a la plancha, $5.50. - LEWIS/FOODSPOTTING
  • Lewis/Foodspotting
  • Esperpento's alcachofas a la plancha, $5.50.

SFoodie's countdown of the 92 best things to eat and drink in San Francisco, 2011 edition.

Considering we live in artichoke country, many San Franciscans are only acquainted with the pickled variety, which we dump out of the jar to toss into pasta or, if we're really fancy, put on pizza. The days when dinner parties began with one giant artichoke per guest, to be peeled leaf by leaf and dipped in drawn butter or aїoli, are long gone ― too much work for everyone.

Esperpento's alcachofas a la plancha are a classic Spanish treatment that make the artichoke taste new again. There's no magic to the preparation, only in the results. The cooks at the tapas restaurant toss thin cross-slices of raw artichokes with garlic and oil and quickly cook them on a smoking-hot griddle (plancha). Served with a lemon wedge, the artichokes come out grassy and smoky, just tender enough to eat but with some bite to them ― the gentle rasp of a leaf, the crackle of a charred petal. They're rustic in all the right ways, and after a couple forkfuls, the thought of a glass of fino or a plate of jamon serrano sounds twice as good as it did when you first looked over the menu. Order both ― considering Esperpento's pre-dot-com prices, that'd bring your bill up only $10.

Esperpento: 3295 22nd St. (at Valencia), 282-8867.

Other dishes in this series:

92: Goat tacos from El Norteño
91: Faux shark's-fin soup from Benu

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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