Monday, June 27, 2011

Ricotta Gnocchi

Two years ago, A and I celebrated his birthday with a long weekend in San Francisco. We rented bikes near Fisherman's Wharf to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge with a stop at the Palace of Fine Arts and a few snacks along the way. (Incidentally, we rented our bikes from Blazing Saddles, which I remembered reading a Harvard Case Study while taking Professor White's Entrepreneurship course. I was happy to see that it was thriving.)

I hadn't been on a bike in at least 15-17 years, but I had been taking spin classes at the gym for about a year at that point. I used to think that burning 700 calories during class was a good workout, but no matter how much resistance I put on those bikes did not prepare me for the hills of San Francisco. After acclimating myself to the crappy rental bike, I have to say that riding across the Bridge was one of my fondest memories on that trip. Needless to say we worked up quite the appetite after being on the bikes for 3-4 hours.

I had made dinner reservations at Zuni Cafe, and I was greatly looking forward to their renowned ricotta gnocchi and roasted chicken with bread salad for two. Imagine my disappointment to learn that they didn't have the gnocchi that night! How could it be?! This is one of their most famous dishes!

Later that year, I received the Zuni Cafe Cookbook for Christmas. Everything sounds lovely, but the number of pages on some of the recipes really intimidated me from diving in. So, 18 months later, I finally took the plunge and decided to try the ricotta gnocchi. With fresh ricotta sourced from J.P. Graziano's, and armed with some photo tutorials and a video on making the gnocchi, I was ready! As some of you may know me in real life, I'm a numbers girl. So even though this recipe takes up 5 pages, I didn't really take the time to read it thoroughly since I had let the photos of those who preceded me do the teaching. Fortunately, this is a rather forgiving recipe, and I am delighted to report that the ricotta gnocchi was wonderfully fluffy, delicate, and cheesy. They are light pillowy, clouds that just ooze ricotta. It was a bit time-consuming to form, but not too bad looking for my first foray into homemade gnocchi. I didn't have any fresh sage on hand, so I opted to serve these with Lidia Bastianich's red sauce. Next on my list from Zuni Cafe will be the roasted chicken or the chard and onion panade.

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