Zazu Kitchen + Farm: When in the Company of Good Friends

A three-hour dinner at Zazu Kitchen +Farm with good friends on a Saturday night is just about perfection here in Sonoma County. If you’ve ever been to Zazu in Sebastopol’s hip Barlow district, you know exactly what I mean. With farm-fresh ingredients, estate-raised livestock (I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard of their Black Pig Bacon), a killer mixology cocktail program and an excellent wine list to boot, there’s no such thing as a quick in-and-out dining experience at Zazu. You’ll want to linger and graze, especially when you’re in the company of good friends.

Zazu Kitchen + Farm is spearheaded by Duskie Estes and John Stewart. While the restaurant has only been in its current location at The Barlow since 2013, it has been a longtime staple in the Sonoma County food scene since 2001. This dynamic duo has built a strong reputation in the culinary industry, winning awards and gaining accolades across the country for their cuisine and as the purveyors of Black Pig Meat Company—which offers the best bacon you will ever taste, made from sustainably raised, heritage breed pigs. Locally, they have been a go-to source for cuisine of the highest and freshest quality, made from produce grown and chickens, pigs, goats, ducks, sheep and rabbits raised on their farm. What they don't grow (which isn't much) is sourced locally from other farms. This all-encompassing, local-centric philosophy adds up to one of the freshest and tastiest meals you will ever experience. For pork lovers, you will think you have died and gone to pork heaven. And yes, the rumor is true—you can actually order a side of bacon with your meal!

My husband and I were accompanied by four good friends on this particular Saturday evening, most of whom we hadn’t seen in quite some time. After spending about ten minutes reading the detailed and lengthy menu, we decided to start catching up over a bottle of Rosé. I chose an intriguing Nebbiolo Rosé from Italy to enjoy with our butcher’s board of charcuterie. Fresh, crisp and easy-drinking in style, this light and fruity Rosé—completely and pleasantly dry—was a nice way to ease into the meal.
A butcher's board of salumi that would make any Italian proud.

The butcher’s board was full of artisan-crafted salumi, cured with various spices and herbs and in various styles. Each salumi was decadent, and richly contrasted the fresh and delicate Rosé. At least an hour must have passed while we sipped and noshed, before we decided to open up a bottle of red and order our main courses.

I brought a bottle of Moshin Vineyards 2011 Halo’s Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir that I had kept stashed away for a while. This elegant Pinot Noir shows a bounty of spiced red fruit on the nose, followed by a silky and seductive feel on the palate. Flavors of spice-filled raspberry and cherry wrap around nuances of vanilla and earth. This wine proved to be an excellent accompaniment to the sweet and savory bacon-wrapped dates, as well as the main courses of Petaluma roasted half-chicken and the duck and pork sausages that many of us ordered.
I had to resist asking to take the leftover honey-butter home with me.

The Petaluma roasted half-chicken was plump and moist, with crispy-browned skin, plated alongside a fresh watermelon and cucumber salad, and a fluffy chunk of cornbread just waiting to be smothered in decadent, homemade honey-butter. The duck and pork sausages, handmade of course, were plopped atop a bed of mash with a delicious mustard-glaze sauce.

Though none of us had room for dessert, we ordered it anyways… indulging our senses while still in good company. Three of us split the molten chocolate chip cookie sundae, which is about as decadent and as childish as it sounds—perhaps somehow making us all feel like we were in college again, like so long ago when we all first met.
The most creative and decadent sundae I have ever had—served in a mini cast iron skillet, no less!

This shared dessert was not only a sweet ending to a wonderful meal shared with good friends, but also the beginning of a fantastic weekend—one that I wished would linger on and on like the meal seemed to do…

And by the way, if by the end of the meal you didn't get enough pork, you can ask to purchase some Black Pig Bacon to take home with you.

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