We were over the moon when we saw cardoons at Tairwa' Knoll's stall last Saturday at the Ferry Plaza Market. Restaurateurs and avid cardoon eaters usually buy all these tall, light green stalks long before they get to market. Maybe farmers are growing more because they see demand for the husky, peppery flavor of this Mediterranean vegetable.

Cardoons may look like steroid-riddled celery, but the name comes from the word for thistle and they're actually close relatives of the artichoke. Tairwa' Knoll said they'll probably have them for another few weeks, but away from California's warm weather and fertile soil, growers pluck cardoons from the ground in the winter, not the spring.

Photos by Melissa Schneider