Like I have mentioned before, I live on the central coast. We have lots of artichokes here. They are amazing. When looking for ones look for tightly packed leaves. Also, sometimes you will see brown slash marks but those are from frost and not a big deal, some say that is a good thing.
Most common cooking method is boiled or steamed. Cutting off the stem and trimming the leaves ( to get rid of the little thorns) and putting them in a pot with an inch or two of water and set to boil. You must put a lid on the pot to steam them properly. It takes about 40-45 minutes. I steam them for about 30 minutes and then take them out to cool. I cut them in half and put them cut side down in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. I let them sit for 10 minutes to 2 hours and BBQ them on low for 15 minutes. They are smokey, sweet, tart, and delicious!