FLAVOUR NOSTALGIA

Some flavours stay with you for a long time. And when those flavours bring memories along for the ride, one bite can really take you back. Food is a time-machine! So this is a taste of Zuni Cafe in San Francisco, one of my first Californian restaurant experiences. That was 23 years ago. I still use this recipe today.

Zuni was iconic: ground-breaking Californian cuisine of its day. It was the golden age of Cali cuisine and a time when braver restaurants were doing away with flavours stolen from other places and instead letting locals speak for themselves, that is local growers, local tastes, local combinations.

I lent my copy of The Zuni Cafe Cookbook to someone years ago and never got it back. Luckily I had this scrawled in a notebook!

Zuni Cafe Caesar Salad

Serves 4 to 6

This recipe is adapted from “The Zuni Cafe Cookbook” by Judy Rodgers.

  • 2 salt-packed anchovies, filleted, rinsed, dried, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon (generous) minced garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon (scant) red wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • – Pinch sea salt
  • – Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 pound chewy, rustic French or Italian bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 cold large eggs, well beaten
  • – Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons), or to taste
  • 2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 hearts of romaine lettuce, cored, leaves left whole, chilled

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 160°.

Combine half of the anchovies and garlic in a bowl. Add the vinegar, the 2/3 cup olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for 20 minutes.

Toss the bread cubes with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake until golden, about 10 minutes.

At serving time, slowly whisk the oil mixture into the eggs to form an emulsion. Add the remaining anchovies and garlic, the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the cheese.

Thoroughly toss the lettuce leaves with the dressing, being careful not to bruise them. Taste for salt and add, if necessary.

Divide the salad among chilled serving plates. Add the croutons, dust with more freshly ground pepper and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

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