Tuesday, January 6, 2009

NYE Dinner at Zuppa!

My necessities for an awesome New Year's Eve: (1) champagne, (2) festive decorations, (3) practical resolutions, and (4) a scrumptious meal with great company. This year, I decided to have my NYE meal at San Francisco's Zuppa, a cozy, intimate Italian restaurant with dishes that are as fresh as they are comforting. And at $40 for a prix fixe five-course dinner, it was well worth the money too!

As we entered the restaurant, we could immediately see the NYE cheer. Balloons bobbed playfully from chairs, and each table was decorated with confetti, party favors, and ridiculous hats that people would only wear for NYE, or maybe a bachelor's party.

Complimentary bite from the kitchen

I believe this was some kind of peppered smoked salmon and pickled radish? In any case, it got our palettes going with a mix of salty, smoky, and sour tastes.

I don't understand why more restaurants don't serve their bread with this simple cheese spread. Ricotta cheese by itself is already a creamy, fluffy treat, but the olive oil and pepper added another layer of flavor here.

Insalata - Insalata di Arugula
baby arugula, pecorino grand cru, shaved sunchokes, 15-year balsamic vinegar

I loved the pecorino (a hard, salty Italian cheese) and balsamic vinegar in this salad, but I was looking for an ingredient that would tone down the bitterness of the arugula, like tomatoes or a citrus fruit.

Antipasta - Zuppa di Sunchoke
jerusalem artichoke soup, aged goat cheese crouton

A great soup for the artichoke lover. The earthy flavor of the artichokes took center stage, accentuated by the subtle nuttiness of the goat cheese croutons.

Primi - Sugo con Coda di Bue
housemade egg pasta, braised oxtail, toasted breadcrumbs

Just like momma would've made! Wide strips of egg pasta cooked to al dente perfection and topped with shredded oxtail bits and breadcrumbs for a light crunch. The broth was a bit disappointing, though ... not enough salt or oxtail flavor.

Secondi - Osso Bucco di Maiale
niman ranch pork shank, black trumpet mushrooms, vin cotto

The pork meat was so tender that it just fell right off the bone. I thought "vin cotto" refererred to some kind of drinkable wine used for cooking, but upon research, I learned that it literally means "cooked wine." It's basically liquid made from slow-cooking and reducing grape must over a period of many hours. The resulting liquid is sweet and pairs well with meats.

Dolce - Spice Apple Cake
apple cider caramel, vanilla gelato

Dessert consisted of a soft apple cake with conspicuous cinnamon and nutmeg flavors, and a dollop of creamy vanilla gelato on the side. Orbiting the cake and the gelato were shiny rings of caramel that had been cooked down with a touch of apple cider. Delish!

Overall, this meal was a great way to commemorate 2008 and usher in 2009. For the new year, I'm going to try to make it a habit to write down what I'm thankful for each day (kind of like Thanksgiving for the whole year). And of course, I'm going to continue sharing my eating adventures here. Happy new year!

564 4th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 777-5900

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