Here's the dish you have to eat on New Year's Eve: cotechino sausage with lentils. For Italians, this combination is a must to attract prosperity during the coming year.
The photo at the top shows how Marino Ristorante in Los Angeles presents it, with airy, crisp, cheese-topped bread alongside.
If you can't get to Marino New Year's Eve, go as soon as possible to make sure you'll have good fortune in 2015.
Not taking any chances, I've already eaten the lucky dish as part of a five-course tasting menu that Marino puts together using daily specials and your requests from the regular menu.
First up was a vegetable antipasto platter (above), each vegetable cooked and seasoned separately. This combination includes three kinds of eggplant, cipollini onions in sweet and sour sauce, carrots, beets, sweet red peppers and zucchini.
The zucchini had been sliced thin, place on top of the pizza oven to dry slightly and then sauteed in extra virgin olive oil. Mint is one of the seasonings. Another plate held carciofi alla giudia--artichoke hearts with garlic, black olives and capers, an Italian-Jewish dish.
Marino's ricotta cheesecake is so light you won't believe it's cheesecake. Bits of candied fruit are mixed in, and the ricotta is house-made. If you've already used up the five dishes from the tasting menu, be sure to add this at the end.
A sumptuous New Year feast demands wine, and Mario Marino will suggest what to order. For this menu he chose a dry pink Mionetto prosecco, Villa Raiano Greco de Tufo, a dry white wine from Campania; Coppo L'Avvocata Barbera d'Asti, Erste + Neue Sauvignon Blanc Alto Adige, a Villa Raiano Aglianico from Campania and, not to leave out California, a Summerland Pinot Noir.
It may seem like a lot of food and wine, but the New Year deserves an all-out celebration, a last holiday fling to enjoy before your diet starts next month.