Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Even the name is delicious. Zarzuela. Doesn't that sound wonderful? It was. The dictionary says it's an ethnic Spanish musical genre, rather than something to eat, and that seems somehow perfectly appropriate - this dish really sings.

I chose it, after much deliberation, when we took my Fairy Godson up to St. Helena to celebrate his 26th birthday at the Greystone restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America. I assume that Zarzuela means "cioppino" in Spanish, but this was far and away better than any cioppino I have ever tasted.

The sauce, while clearly tomato based, was flavored with the sea and (I think) some saffron, very refined and smooth without seeds. The clams were tiny, no bigger than a quarter and as tender as can be. The mussels were small, too, and without "pearls" - perfectly cooked. The shrimp lent both flavor and color counterpoints to the dish. Even the toast, spread with flavored white bean and chive puree, was delicious.

I have found online only one recipe for Zarzuela and it reads wrong for the dish I tasted. I will have to make some modifications but it will be my distinct pleasure to try to reproduce this dish, no matter how many tries it requires. I can think of worse fates than singing my way through several trials of zarzuela.

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Blogger julie said...

How funny that you mentioned zarzuela...I just walked by the restaurant Zarzuela yesterday, a neighborhood I am rarely in (Russian Hill), and was saying how badly I long to go back! If you haven't tried it, it's wonderful food.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Julie, I saw the restaurant on Google when I went to look for recipes - now that you say it's good, I'll have to give it a try!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009  

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