Wine Country - Day 2 - Another amazing day!

Today started with breakfast at one of our favorite spots in Santa Rosa, the Omelette Express.  We found this place on our last trip out here.  It's walking distance from the hotel and so far, the best breakfast in town.  We learned from our last trip that splitting an omelet would be plenty for both of us.  We had a bacon, tomato, avocado and feta and was served with breakfast potatoes and a big piece of whole wheat sourdough toast.  It was delicious!  Oh, and Dave loved the salsa!






From breakfast we headed to Jacuzzi Winery.  They have an olive oil tasting we wanted to try.  We'd also heard from Kim at Gustavo Thrace yesterday that this was a great winery to visit.  She wasn't wrong.



Just as we pulled in a bus was unloading people into the winery.  They all went to the winery side so we started with the olive oil tasting room.  Our hostess Trish was great.  We learned the differences between the different oils we (ok, just me, Dave had his mind on wine!) were tasting.  It still amazes me how different the oils can taste.  Olives are not olives!



They also had some great infused olive oils and those of you who know me know how much I love those!  Trish mixed us up some great combinations!  My favorites were a peach balsamic with lime olive oil, orange oil with fig balsamic and lemon oil with white balsamic. 

The room where they press the oils was right off the room in which we tasted them.  You could watch the olives being pressed.  Kim even went in and got us a sample right out of the press!  It's very green, both tasting and in color.  When she added a little balsamic all the green notes went away.  It was delicious!


Yes, some of those came home!  We even found a cool little gift for our favorite bar tender at the Officer's Club!

By the time I was done tasting, Dave had found us a recommendation for breakfast the next day and the wine tasting room had emptied out!


Our hostess on the wine side was so much fun!  Her name was Irene and she knew everything about the winery.  First, yes, this is the Jacuzzi of "hot tub" fame but that was only one of their amazing contributions to society.

The Jacuzzi family had 7 sons and 6 daughters.  The sons came over to California from Italy in 1907 and worked on the railroad like everyone else at the time.  They had been wood workers in Italy and one of the sons developed the first toothpick prop for an airplane.  It was their prop that was used on the Wright brother's first plane!  That very prop is now in the Smithsonian.  This was designed and built by men who had had only 3 years of school, total, not 3 years of college, just 3 years of school!

In 1948 one of their children was diagnosed with arthritis.  Every week they had to drive to San Francisco to have treatments in water baths.  The mother of this child asked the "boys" to develop something so that she didn't have to take her son to San Francisco every week.  The first Jacuzzi was invented!  The first edition was a pump you put directly into the tub.  They had a hard time selling this because people just didn't want to put something electric into their tub.  So the boys figured out how to put the pump in the wall of the tub and the Jacuzzi's we know and love were invented!


What about the wine?  Well, one of the boys, Valeriano didn't want to work in manufacturing so he got into wine.  The winery is a replica of the family's home in Italy.  It looks opulent, but Irene told us they were very poor in Italy and the lower floor of the house held the animals and the heat from the animals is what warmed the upper floor where the family lived.

There is only one surviving original Jacuzzi daughter, Gilia, who is now 104 years old!  We saw a picture of her.  She looks amazing!  And I really liked the wine named after her.  A bottle will be coming home!  Dave really liked their Primitivo.  A bottle of that is coming home too!

We wandered the beautiful grounds.  Lots of weddings happen here.  The fountain is beautiful and I especially liked the pink glasses on Nemo!







These marble statues were commissioned and built for someone who was making it big in the dot.com hey day.  Well, the dot.com went bust and he had to sell them.  The Jacuzzi family picked them up on eBay!


When we finished our tasting and tour with Irene, she suggested we go down the road to the Larson Family Winery.  They make a "Three Lab Cab" for their three labs!  A winery with dogs?  Of course we had to go!

 

We were warned that the road in was "little" and that the only thing at the end of it was the winery.  We loved the signs on the way in and out!




The wines were good and the tasting room staff was great!  We showed them pictures of our lab and in one of them Cabby is playing with her horse toy (the only toy that has lasted her whole life!).  They took note and are going to try and find one for one of the labs that loves to pop basketballs!

They were even nice enough to give us labels from their wines!  Yes, we'll be framing these!  And we couldn't pass up buying a bottle of Three Lab Cab!


Now we were hungry again so we headed into Sonoma for lunch at Cafe Citi.  We discovered this little gem on our very first trip to California.  Then Guy Fieri found it on Diners Drive Ins and Dives and now it's hard to find a place to park!  We were lucky.  There was a lull in the crowd when we got there but it was packed when we left!


 

We split a house salad which has the best Italian dressing on it!  It's thick and creamy with just enough bite but not overpowering.  We love that they actually split it for you and don't charge extra for it.  For our entree we ordered the gnocchi with bolognese.  Heaven on a plate!  The gnocchi melted in your mouth and the bolognese was meaty and delicious.

 


We decided that since we split a salad and split the entree we could split dessert.  The owner of Cafe Citi is a pastry chef and the waiter suggested tiramisu.  We couldn't resist.  It was the best I've ever had.  The bottom layer was soaked perfectly, the marscapone was smooth and creamy, it was delicious!



Our final winery of the day was Kunde.  We had booked a Mountain Top Tasting before we left Minnesota.  It was raining on the day we arrived so they had called us to tell us if the weather wasn't great we would not do the Mountain Top tasting but we would get a great tour which would include the ruins!  In the movie Bottle Shock there is a scene "just outside of Paris" which was filmed at the Dulfinnan estate ruins on the Kunde property!  I was hoping for bad weather!



Well, the weather was ok, but there was another hitch in the plan.  Kunde had decided to close at 3pm yesterday and there just wasn't time for either the mountain top tasting or the full tour out to the ruins.  Whomever had confirmed our tour didn't know they were planning on closing early.

Well, rather than just cancel on us, Mike, our tour guide, took us on a personal tour of the main part of the vineyard.  We got to go past the boxing ring from Bottle Shock again.   This year there's a cow there.  Apparently Bessy was won in a charity auction.


Mike did a fabulous job telling us about the different grapes and what was happening at the winery.  When we got back we stopped in the tasting room one more time where he poured us a few more wines, one of which was their Cuvee.  OMG that is the best wine!  We'll be heading back there before we leave the area to pick up a bottle.  They were closing up shop around us (it was well after 3pm now) so we didn't want to make them sell us a bottle right there.


In those final tastings was a paring of dark chocolates with sea salt and the Kunde 1904 Dessert Cuvee (which tastes a lot like port).  The wine was good but the chocolate was fabulous!

Because we didn't get the tour we had booked, not only did Mike not charge us but he also bought us a bottle of the Kunde Zinfandel!  So we didn't get the Mountain Top Tasting and we didn't get to see the ruins but we had fun with Mike, got some great chocolates (he sent us off with a few extra of those as well) and a great bottle of wine!

So how can you top such a great day?  Dinner at Zazu!  I'd made these reservations before we left too.  Zazu is owned by Duskee Estes of Next Iron Chef fame, and her husband John.  The restaurant is truly "farm to table".  They grow a lot of their produce in their gardens and use the "whole hog" when cooking.

 

The building is as eclectic as its owner!  It used to be a chicken coop!  The staff told us that in back it's even more "chicken coop like" with tiny little areas to walk and work.


We had a hard time deciding what we wanted on the menu.  It is nothing like anything we've seen before and it all sounded good!  We started with the "pizza and pinot" starter.  The pizzas are created with pinot in mind.  This one had squash, purple onion, feta cheese and a white sauce and then was just sprinkled with parsley.  It looked and smelled amazing and the flavors didn't disappoint.  The crust was perfect.  Crispy and chewy and you could pick a piece up and not have it flop over, right down to the last piece.  It never got soggy!  I'm not sure what exactly the squash (zucchini) was cooked in prior to going on the pizza (balsamic maybe?) but it was delicious!  Dave had a pinot with it, I had a cabernet!  And how cool there was a Z on the glasses!



We split an entree too.  How could we not do pork?  So we picked the Sloppy Jane which was a pulled pork sandwich with Duskee's "Q" sauce, pickled cucumbers and hand made onion rings.  Does this not look fabulous?


It was amazing!  The "Q" sauce was excellent, not too much vinegar or spice and there wasn't so much on the sandwich that you couldn't taste the pork. The pork was tender and juicy and there were just enough charred bits to put it over the top!  There was a side of scriacca aioli to add some heat.

But the onion rings, oh my the onion rings!  They were battered with a tempura-like batter and perfectly cooked.  They literally melted in your mouth!  I am not kidding!  The onions didn't pull out you could bite through them.  Absolutely the best onion rings I've ever had.

You'd think after all that we wouldn't have room for anything else.  Then they put the dessert menu in front of us.  Again, we had a very hard time deciding and ultimately decided on two!



The first was the "Better Butters" which was two peanut butter ice cream sandwiches with chocolate dipping sauce.  Ok, that didn't sound as fabulous.  Let me try again.  Imagine two perfectly cooked peanut butter cookies.  Crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle.  Between those two cookies put some peanut butter ice cream, smooth, creamy, perfectly peanutty ice cream.  Next melt some Scharffenburger dark chocolate and set it next to these ice cream sandwiches from heaven.  Probably one of the best things I've ever eaten!



Our second dessert was the burnt sugar ice cream.  You can pick your sauce and we picked the bacon rum caramel sauce.  Oh god again!  The ice cream it carmely (word?) and the sauce amazing.  I didn't really get a lot of bacon flavor in it, Dave said he did, but really with rum caramel sauce you can't go wrong.


We were over-stuffed but so happy!  If you are ever out this way you must try Zazu!  The food is amazing, the service outstanding (thank you Bryan!) and the atmosphere relaxed.  We may go back again this week!


We got back to the hotel stuffed.  We collapsed and went to bed dreaming about the next day....

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