Cardoons, Olives, Feta at Gramercy Tavern (Food Memories of 2011, No. 1 )

For the month of December, I'll be posting one food memory every day here, and also sharing them on Facebook. To kick things off, I'm remembering something I ate only 24 hours ago: a vegetable course as part of the lunch tasting menu at Gramercy Tavern.

The dish was cardoons, olives, feta, and some dark leafy green cut into chiffonade. Cardoons, if you've never tried them, look like gigantic stalks of celery, but they taste like a mild artichoke. They're always cooked (I'm not sure if it's safe to eat them raw). At Gramercy Tavern, the cardoons were sliced on the bias to create this little angular shpes, like tiny boomerangs.

The cardoons sat on top of a warm pile of chopped black olives mixed with feta and ribbons of some kind of leafy green. What I liked best about it was the texture and temperature. Through and through, the whole dish was warm, but not hot. The olives and feta were soft, providing a contrast to the still-firm cardoons.