Zazu Chefs Introduce New Heritage Pig… on a Plate
While some inventors celebrate their achievements in infamy, Santa Rosa’s new “pig scientists” are planning to eat their project. And we’re all invited to pull up a seat at the table, when dinner is served on Sunday, March 3, for what Estes says “may be the world’s first opportunity to compare three heritage breeds side-by-side on the same plate.”
Long story short, Santa Rosa chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart were arranging a little porcine romance at their partnership pig farm in Forestville, and lo and behold, an entirely new breed of pig was born. The chef owners of Zazu in Santa Rosa and Black Pig Bacon Company have long raised rare oinkers like the Mulefoot and the Red Wattle, and as things happen between pigs, the two crossed in a love connection, and the result was eight new piglets for what Estes and Stewart are calling Black Wattle Mulefoots.
The endangered red wattle is named for its red skin and two small appendages dangling below its cheeks, while the Mulefoot typically black, and is also endangered and on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy’s critical list because its global population numbers fewer than 1,000 animals. The new Black Wattle Mulefoot are distinctive in their own way, black with cheek appendages.
The critters are also delicious, as Estes and Stewart proved when they were named the “King & Queen of Porc” for the Grand Cochon / Aspen Food & Wine festival in 2011.
"We won all our Cochon events with the Red Wattle and really appreciate the taste of the animal,” said Stewart. “However, in the Cochon circles there is a camp of people who love the flavor of the Mulefoot.”
The idea for crossing them came “more from circumstance” than an itch to make pig history, Stewart explained. “We had purchased a female Red Wattle from our favorite pig farmer ‘TC’ at Walnut Keep Farm in the Suisun Valley, and then met Amy Grabbish whose Mulefoot won last year's Cochon Napa. She had a male Mulefoot.”
A piggy date was arranged, and “about 4 months after that, we were delivering babies in the middle of the night” said Stewart.
All three pig breeds have been raised at Walnut Keep and fed the same diet, to protect the integrity of comparing them side by side. But Estes and Stewart will wait for the rest of us at the 6 p.m. dinner to see what they taste like.
The five course, $93 wine-paired meal offers dishes such as ham and biscuit sliders spread in Guinness mustard; three bellies "under a brick" with hoisin glaze, pickled mustard greens, mushrooms and star anise sticky rice; three shoulders "roasted in hay" with gigante beans, duck fat bread crumbs and green peppercorn salsa verde; and three loins "with sticks" of backyard rosemary roasted spuds and fig anchoiade.
Dessert is chicharron peanut butter cups, bacon caramel popcorn and “porkeos” cookies.
Naturally, reservations are a must.
Details: Zazu, 3535 Guerneville Rd., Santa Rosa, 707-523-4814