Subsequently, I was in touch with Steve Jordan, a grower of purple artichokes, and on May 16, 2005, he emailed me after seeing my pictures and said he grew these! He is an artichoke farmer who lives in Lompoc, California, about an hour north of Santa Barbara (I thought for sure that the source was Watsonville, California, the artichoke capital of the country - I've been there and there are artichokes as far as the eye can see!).
I believe that Steve developed this Fiesole variety in 2004 from traditional European ones, such as French 'Violet de Provence' and Italian cousins in Sicily, Tuscany, and Venice, like 'Violetto di Toscana'. He emailed me to say he is the only one growing this particular variety, and is applying for a US patent. "We sell them with long stems locally", Steve wrote me, "some have put them in a vase and later took them out and cooked them". (What a good idea to possibly incorporate into my rose arrangements and still life photography, if I can find long-stemmed artichokes!) Steve happens to have his own smugmug photo site, as well, including pictures of his growing purple artichokes!
Steve told me that his Fiesole is similar to the European Violettos. Though I enjoyed them steamed, he suggested even trying them raw. "Usually consumed at the small or even baby stage. Trimmed and eaten whole. Some peel the stem and eat it raw. Dipped in olive oil with salt and pepper. The rounder larger type, similar to Green Globe (the traditional California variety) are often steamed or boiled. The even rounder types are often baked or cooked directly in oil. Carciofi ala Romana. Carciofi alla Guideca."