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For its first annual Locally Grown Artichoke Festival in Southern California in April and May, specialty produce provider Frieda’s Inc. teamed exclusively with Ralphs Grocery Co. and Maria’s Italian Kitchen to introduce consumers to three new artichoke varieties grown at Baroda Farms in Lompoc, Calif., and distributed exclusively by Los Alamitos, Calif.-based Frieda’s.
The Sangria Artichoke (near left) has a deep-burgundy color, a pointed shape, and meaty leaves with nutty and earthy flavors; the Fiore Viola Artichoke (far left) has a deep-purple color, a round shape, and highly meaty leaves with a sweeter artichoke flavor; and Fiesole (pronounced "fee-ay-so-lay") baby purple artichokes have no inner choke and are almost entirely edible.
“My brother and I are partners with the Italian government in developing new red artichoke varieties,” said Baroda’s Steve Jordan, the “Artichoke Evangelist” who developed the varieties. “These three new varieties are the outcome of collaboration with French and Italian breeders. It’s great to see a company like Frieda’s working with their partners to get these artichokes into Southern California homes.”
During the promotional period, participating Ralphs locations in the Los Angeles area built displays and promoted the artichoke varieties with "locally grown" signage created by Frieda’s. Meanwhile, Van Nuys, Calif.-based Maria’s Italian Kitchen Restaurants served five original artichoke dishes featuring the three varieties.
“The artichoke quality and color were great! They were some of the best artichokes I have ever tasted,” enthused Dan De La Rosa, produce and floral merchandising at Compton, Calif.-based Ralphs, a division of The Kroger Co. in Cincinnati. “Local and fresh from the field, the vibrant colors of the Sangria, Fiore Viola and Fiesole artichokes helped create the ‘wow factor’ needed to gain consumer interest, making the Artichoke Festival a big success.”
The new artichoke varieties are projected to be available again in August, according to Frieda’s.