At 95 years old, it's no surprise that I get the question "What's your secret?" quite often. Although my love for dark chocolate deserves some credit for my heart health, many people are surprised when they hear my real secret - artichokes.
Artichokes are the one food that I have stayed more loyal to than even chocolate, eating one a day for the last 20-plus years. But it was not until my recent visit to America's largest fresh artichoke grower, Ocean Mist Farms (10855 Ocean Mist Parkway, Castroville, California; 831-633-2144), that I realized the true benefit to this habit.
During the tour of the artichoke facility, I found out that not only do artichokes contain more protein than most vegetables, at 6 grams per serving, but they also surpass all other vegetables, as well as guilty pleasures like chocolate and red wine, in antioxidant levels. Artichokes are also a great source of vitamins C and K as well as fiber. With all of these benefits (and more) combined, it's no surprise that simply adding more artichokes to your diet makes for an easy way to improve your heart, gut and digestive health.
If you, too, share my love for artichokes, you may be interested in setting up an appointment to visit the facility on your next trip to California or better yet, plan to visit next June and partake in the annual Castroville Artichoke Food & Wine Festival, which will celebrate 60 years in summer 2019.
Recipe Box: Find artichoke recipes in The Oregonian/OregonLive recipe database.
Another trip worth taking is just about an hour's flight to Vancouver, British Columbia. As if the natural beauty of the city isn't enough reason for a visit, it's also home to one of my new favorite French eateries, Le Crocodile Restaurant (909 Burrard St., Vancouver, British Columbia; 604-669-4298).
Being an upscale restaurant with a price tag to match, this is an ideal place to take visitors or clients and for special occasions. Unlike many other fine-dining establishments, Le Crocodile does not hold back on portions, making it worth every dollar. The menu reflects traditional French fare with an innovative West Coast flair. Entrees include mouthwatering fish, seafood, duck, beef, lamb and more. I opted for the lobster, which was as delicious as it was melt-in-your-mouth tender.
Another suggestion would be to indulge in the five-course chef's tasting menu, which recently included offerings of shrimp cocktail salad, grilled asparagus, a duo of roasted duck breast and lamb chop, green apple sorbet to cleanse your palate and a floating island and deep fried Mars bar (toffee mousseline) for dessert. To make every meal that much more memorable, the waiter brings milk and dark chocolate crocodiles to conclude your dining experience. Consider making reservations when planning your next trip to Vancouver, British Columbia.
The all-new fourth edition of "Gerry Frank's Oregon" guidebook is available through oregonguidebook.com; 503-585-8411; [email protected]; amazon.com; Macy's; and P.O. Box 2225, Salem, OR 97308.