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For Summertime Weekend Eats, It's Zazu On The River

For Zazu and it's sister restaurant, Zazu on the River, summertime means just-picked produce.

 

From a small dining area at the rear of to a smaller, al fresco dining area on the Russian River, But their penchant for all things porky remains the same--but with a produce twist.

"Another name for it," says proprietor with a laugh, "is the 'swine trough."

Estes talks a mile a minute while harvesting overgrown vegetables for the pigs they are raising for their own consumption.

Bacon and pork are the restaurant headliners but what's even better is that perfectly palatable pork is now paired with delicious fresh-picked produce from raised beds at both locations.

"Zazu is about a sense of place," said Estes. "Of knowing the face that feeds you.

"This absolutely does it," she said as she stretched her arm to encompass the whole area.

What "this" includes is about 2,000 square feet of beautiful raised redwood beds. One bed is strictly basil, another includes a dozen varieties of heirloom tomatoes. And there are squash, Armenian cucumbers, corn and flowers--numerous sunflowers, nasturtiums, zinnias and more.

Estes and husband John Stewart continue to delve deeper and deeper into becoming people who produce their own food--for themselves, their family and for their restaurants.

While currently they cannot supply their own pork for the restaurants, due to USDA rules and the limitations of Sonoma County slaughterhouses, Estes believes a remedy will soon be in place in Petaluma.

In the talking a mile-a-minute department, daughter Mackenzie Stewart holds her own. From being carried in a front-back as her mother waited tables in the original Zazu, Stewart at just 9, has put in her first seven-hour day in her family's restaurant.

"I love it," she says with a huge smile across her face. This young lady knows her food and is willing to work for it. Stewart talks pig breeding and the crossing of heritage breeds to create the best-tasting pork.

"You cross a Red Wattle with a Mulefoot," she states seriously. "Everyone says Red Wattle is best or that Mulefoot is best, so we decided to cross them and see what is best."

They are going to have a taste testing of the three sometime in the future.

Meanwhile, produce from the raised beds provide freshness for their menus at both restaurants and excess bounty helps feed those on-the-hoof garden gourmets.

is located with at 52 Front St., Healdsburg.

Currently they are open from 11:30 a.m. - 6 p.m., Friday through Sunday only. They are considering extending their hours and adding Thursday to the schedule. They expect to run Zazu on the River until the end of October.

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