Three decades ago, goat cheese and arugula helped define California cuisine; today, spot prawns and Big Heart artichokes do. Here, two top chefs share recipes for the new ingredients keeping California cuisine fresh.
Blue Foot Chicken
The Blue Foot chicken, America's version of France's famed Poulet de Bresse, is prized for its moist texture (due in part to the milk that it's fed), firm flesh and excellent flavor. In 2005, Bob Shipley of Squab Producers of California in Modesto started selling his spectacular Blue Foots—the first available in the United States—through D'Artagnan (dartagnan.com).
Big Heart Artichokes
The Big Heart artichoke has a thicker leaf and a larger heart than almost any other artichoke we know, making the effort of cooking and eating it much more rewarding. Steve Jordan of Baroda Farms in Lompoc, California—California's artichoke visionary—starts selling the seasonal Big Hearts this month through local markets and by phone from Andronico's (415-455-8186).
Monterey Bay Sardines
In the past, California chefs have made do with imported sardines; the waters of California have been too cool for local ones. But thanks to natural fluctuations in ocean temperature, sardines are back. Those from Monterey Fish Company (montereyfishcompany.com) are remarkably delicious.
California Spot Prawns
Spot prawns are harvested up and down the California coast; some chefs say the ones from Santa Barbara are the sweetest they've ever tasted. Chefs drive to the Santa Barbara harbor to buy the prawns right of the boats; they're also available (fresh) from Seafoods.com (877-710-3467).
Find recipes featuring these and three other California ingredients above.