Husband and wife restaurateurs Duskie Estes and John Stewart are the creative force behind Santa Rosa’s Zazu restaurant. Sustainable and extremely self-sufficient, Estes and Stewart’s Zazu is like ‘Little House on the Prateria’ in California’s Sonoma County. They grow much of the restaurant’s produce, keep chickens, and make their own salumi, among other things. Their pioneer spirit is matched by their passion for helping diners enjoy slow food, the foundation of putting anyone in the mood. Chef Duskie Estes sat down with us for the OpenTable R.Q. test, in which she waxes poetic about love among diners and coworkers, bubbles, and the 364 days a year that aren’t Valentine’s Day (but maybe should be).
What are your thoughts on food and drink acting as aphrodisiacs?
What I think that it’s really about is being together at a table and looking into each other’s eyes and talking and listening. These are the foundations of the slow food movement. Food and drink add to the mix, but if you’re not listening to your companion, well, no oyster is gonna make it happen for you.
Aside from aphrodisiacs, what dishes or drinks do you find particularly sexy?
I think foods that make you salivate, whether it be salty, sweet, tart, or spicy. Those kind of things are exciting in the mouth. Ingredient-wise, the things that do it for me are passion fruit, white truffles, and black garlic. Obviously, we’re all about bacon, our bacon in particular, with fat that pops and melts. And, for me, rum and tequila drinks make you feel like you’re already on a vacation; they bring up sun and swimsuits and sand in your toes.
Also, bubbles. Bubbles make you salivate and keep your mouth moving. Billecart from France. Love everything from Iron Horse. Moscato d’Asti is an Italian dessert wine that has essence of peach and flower and it has good acid structure as well as sweetness.
Have you ever wooed a love interest with a particular dish or drink?