Bacon caramel popcorn at Zazu in Sebastopol. Photo courtesy of Heather Irwin.
Chicharrones at the new Zazu in Sebastopol. Photo courtesy of Heather Irwin.
Long Meadow Ranch in Napa hosts a charcuterie class. Photo courtesy of Long Meadow Ranch.
The seasonal pickle plate at Spinster Sisters. Photo courtesy of Heather Irwin.
A quick hit on the new ~ZAZU~ at the food- and wine-centric Barlow Center in Sebastopol. If you haven’t been since their summer opening, it’s worth putting on your to-do list. The expansive dining room and outdoor seating area have been custom-built to owner Duskie Estes and John Stewart’s growing needs. There are 30-foot ceilings, lots of nouveau barn and brushed steel details, and a giant pink pig’s head (made of recycled oil cans and other refuse, natch, by local artist Patrick Amiot) overseeing the operation. Because what else would you expect from the king and queen of pork?
The menu and hours have also expanded; now lunch, weekend brunch, and dinner have an all-star lineup of everything but the squeal, including plenty of salumi and bacon from the Stewarts’ Black Pig Meat Co. For noshing, don’t skip the bacon caramel popcorn or chicharrones flavored with apple cider vinegar or rosemary. We missed out on the pig’s face “poutine” (fries slathered with piggy parts, Tabasco gravy, and blue cheese) and the pig’s heart, but loved the pimento macaroni and cheese with bacon salt and truffled salumi. The dinner menu includes more meaty slabs like pork belly, beef shank, and lamb, along with roasted bone marrow and a snout-to-tail sampler.
From 3pm-6pm, you can grab a happy hour drink and a mini bacon burger or pizza. Or hit “after-hours” from 10pm-midnight on Friday and Saturday for wings and waffles, salumi and pickles, and cocktails from the full bar. The “bacon and eggs,” a honey whiskey sour with bacon bourbon and an egg, is a midnight tipple I can get behind. Open for lunch and dinner Wed-Sun, brunch from 9am Sat-Sun, and dinner only on Mon; closed Tue. 6770 McKinley St., #150, Sebastopol, 707-523-4814.
Wondering what happened to the old Zazu space? Nearby ~WALTER HANSEL WINERY ~ is lifting the curtains on the Walter Hansel Winery Bistro, a full-service bistro and wine bar, next week. Heading the kitchen is chef Philippe Colasse, who’s toqued at several Michelin-starred restaurants in France and Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Las Vegas. He was most recently winery chef for Foley Family Wines in Healdsburg. Expect news of the official opening in the coming weeks.
Are pickles the new bacon? Gastronomers from around the world (most notably the Japanese and Northern Europeans) have long known the value of pickled vegetables as both sustenance and solid foundation at the morning repast. Though Americans tend to wrinkle their noses at such savory fare before noon, local chefs are serving up their own kitchen-pickled veggies throughout the day. And I, for one, am a fan. A recent fave: ~SPINSTER SISTERS’~ (401 South A St. at Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa) Seasonal Pickle Plate ($7) includes pickled cukes, daikon, cinnamon-infused beets, tiny radishes, and spicy, garlicky kimchi. I’ll be sussing out lots of other pickled goodness around town (‘cause it’s that time of year), so suggest your fave local fermented goodies.
Other Tidbits: We’re loving kopanisti, a yummy Greek dip made with whipped feta and peperoncini. It’s hot and creamy and full of goodness, like any dip should be. Sofia Petridis-Lim, of Healdsburg’s ~TAVERNA SOFIA~ (244 Healdsburg Ave. at Center, Healdsburg), is selling six-ounce containers Saturdays at the Healdsburg Farmers’ Market, along with several of her other Greek sauces and pita chips.
New Tasting Spots in Healdsburg: Ferrari-Carano’s Seasons of the Vineyard Wine Shop—along with Scharffen Berger—have teamed up to create unique pairings for wine and chocolate lovers. The store also offers a full range of Scharffen Berger’s artisanal chocolate, created with a winemaker’s attention to craftsmanship. 113 Plaza St., Healdsburg.
Rosenblum Cellars’ new facility offers a primary tasting room, an event and educational space, a lounge for locals and club members, and an outdoor patio. The Tasting Lounge provides wine flight tastings, wine-based cocktails, “bites & flights,” zinfandel ice cream, wines by the glass, and nonalcoholic beverages for designated drivers. A calendar of educational offerings will provide a forum for local growers, food and wine pairing seminars, and seminars with local artists and artisanal food producers. 18 Matheson St., Healdsburg.
Finally, Wine Country can’t seem to get enough of chef-lebrities. In St. Helena, ~LA CONDESA’S~ head toque, Chris Mortenson, won the Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen. The elimination-style competition hosted by Alton Brown pits chefs against each other, using sabotage and food challenges, to see whose kitchen skills come out on top. Mortenson walked away with $9,800 in prize money in addition to bragging rights. 1320 Main St., St. Helena.