Monday, October 20, 2008

Z Cucina

When confronted with a piece of fine art, you might first be drawn in by the subject matter. You might then ask yourself what you think of the textures, the palette the artist chose, or whether the composition holds together as a whole. If you’re lucky enough to be familiar with the artist’s repertoire, you might go over in your mind other paintings you’ve seen and compare them.

Much the same can be said about fine food.

My husband and I don’t have the opportunity to go out often because of our crazy schedules, but we had the honor of taking my mother- and father-in-law (gastronomes extraordinaire) out for dinner the other night to Z Cucina, a relatively new spot in Columbus.

Before ordering any food, we asked for a bottle of Super Tuscan, Guidalberto, Tenuta de Guido 2002; a plumy, earthy wine that asks to be chewed while you drink it.

To eat, we started with the Z Tavola Tasting plate (Calamari Fritti, Parmigiano Risotto Fritters, House-Made Mozzarella and 3 Chef Creations), which disappeared rather quickly. My favorite was the house-made mozzarella drizzled with balsamic vinegar which, I am sure, was made lovingly in Modena, Italy and stored for seventeen years until it blossomed to perfection.

For the entrée, I ordered the Goat Cheese Ravioli with Spiced Walnuts, Peppers, Onions and Salsa Rosa. I recall this dish with tears in my eyes. For a brief moment, I saw a bright light and the pearly gates opening. The silky pasta, the teasing flavor of goat cheese, the spicy walnuts and the lively flavors coating it all; this is how ravioli should always taste.

There were rumors around the table that the Grilled Trattoria Steak (Olive Oil Smashed Potato, Grilled Asparagus and Balsamic Vinaigrette), Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Agro-Dolce (Roasted New Potatoes, Wilted Spinach and Rhubarb Mostarda) and Olive Oil Braised Duck Legs (Creamy Gorgonzola Polenta, Roasted Moscato Grapes, Moscato d’Asti Reduction and Spring Greens) were equally good.

For dessert I had a scoop of Jeni’s salty caramel ice cream (nearly all to myself) and a cup of espresso. The birthday girl, my mother-in-law got a complimentary dessert.

The entire meal elicited the same response I have when I see one of Monet’s masterly water lily panels. “I wish I had said that.”

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