First, cook the artichokes: place them in a pot just large enough to hold them in one layer – a deep 30 cm frying pan is a good size. Smash 4 of the garlic cloves with the flat of a knife and tuck them in among the artichokes together with the thyme and bay leaf. Peel the rind from one of the lemons and juice it, then add both the peel and the juice to the pan with some salt. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the pan, then add enough water almost to cover the artichokes and bring to the boil. Place a paper cartouche, or suitably sized plate or saucer, over the artichokes to keep them submerged and turn the heat down to a rapid simmer, then continue to cook until you can just insert a skewer into the thickest part of one of the artichokes, about 15 minutes. Remove the cartouche, plate or saucer and simmer for 2 minutes more, then take off the heat and leave to cool. At this stage, they can be stored covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. (The marinating oil left over makes an excellent salad dressing.)
Peel the husk from the tomatillos and rinse them, then remove the core and cut into 1 cm dice. Using a soup spoon, skim 2 spoonfuls of the artichoke braising oil and add to the tomatillos together with the juice of the remaining lemon and a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Leave to ‘cure’ for 5 minutes, then finish the salsa by mixing in the mint.
Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the wild asparagus, bring back to the boil and cook for 45 seconds. Then drain and refresh in very cold water (add a few ice cubes).
Make the bruschetta by grilling the sourdough slices, then rubbing them with the remaining garlic and drizzling with the reserved oil.