special occasions, special people

special occasions, special people

Meet Katie and Dylan. I first met them shortly after ZZest opened. Katie is the daughter of a high school classmate of mine. It was fun seeing Sally again to to learn about her daughter Katie, who at the time, just got married. When Katie and Dylan come in they always lavish us with compiments, and thumbs up on facebook. And, even though they were newlweds they would come in fairly frequently. It turns out Katie and Dylan came in frequently because, they had things to celebrate. Dylan was all set to join the marines feeling like this was his best choice for the future. But Sally and Katie surprised him with tearing up his papers and offering to pay for college. #1 celebration! College graduation was another and soon their first baby girl in 2014. It was particularily fun to listen to Sally gush about the wonders of holding a grandchild for the first time (something I can’t wait for!!). Baby David was born last Nov. and that gave Katie and Dylan one more reason to celebrate and come to ZZest. Tonight when I caught them for the photo its was yet another occasion. Their 7 year anniversary, dinner at ZZest and on to Las Vegas! Such a special couple and thank you for sharing your special occasions with...
meet the parkers

meet the parkers

Here’s an awesome family! They may have slipped my radar the first few years. I’m pretty good at faces, sadly names elude me, but, I’m really good at remembering what cheese you like! Thank goodness after awhile I started to realize, something was up with these folks and New Years Eve. It turns out the Parkers have not missed our New Year’s Eve Chef Tastings, since we began them! That’s at least 7 of them! And… if it couldn’t get any sweeter than that, New Years Eve is their anniversary. A couple years ago they brought the whole crew in to celebrate their anniversary and of course New Years Eve. All the kids were decked out and every one of them had the chefs dinner, that’s 6 courses and not one course is a burger. That makes my heart sing! I’m glad I connected the dots a few years in, is was fun to look forward to them coming each year. The Parkers live in Winona and do pop in now and again beyond NYE. When they learned we were closing, Chris called and made a reservation for the whole group again. Here are their smiling faces! Thanks for sharing life’s celebrations with...
our first customer, julie

our first customer, julie

As we begin our final days at ZZest the very best part is seeing old friends again. Julie promises this is not her last evening in (whew! I’m not ready for tears quite yet). But, as I was chatting with her it occurred to me there are so many ZZest stories. Now, I want to catch as many as possible and post them! Julie has been a great customer, literally going back to the very beginning which would make her actually our very first customer! The very beginning, was my short stint in a little kiosk space in Rochester Produce, 10 years ago. She enthusiastically looked over all the jars and cheeses and proclaimed this to be her favorite “shop” ever! Ha! literally 3 shelves and about 12 specialty cheeses. But that’s Julie 🙂 Later when I moved to my “little shop” Culinary Market, Julie was one of the first customers in the door. Now there were a couple more shelves and about double the cheese for her to explore. When we changed and moved to ZZest Market and Cafe, Julie made the trek south. I used to laugh at her because she couldn’t get past the $15 lb Hooks cheddar from Wi. She put in on her sandwiches for lunch every day! I told her it was one hell of an expensive sandwich to pack daily! She moved on to other cheeses. For awhile her fave was Delice de Bougogne especially with Robert Lambert raspberry champagne jam. Julie also made coming to the cafe a priority. We all enjoyed chatting with her at the counter where she lavished...
hello, robiola

hello, robiola

This extraordinary cheese is part of the family of Robiola’s from the Piedmont region of Italy. I think I had a past life there as I am so drawn to the food and wine elements. White truffles, Barolo and red peppers. Yeah… you were there too, right? These cheeses are produced in dairies in the Langhe area and aged for a short period developing a thin, white, bloomy rind. The Guffanti family are master cheese makers, and honestly this is a cheese for any palate. In ZZest Market’s cheese case is Robiola due Latte, meaning made with two milks (not a Starbucks drink). The milks are both cow and sheep’s milk. This Robiola has a smooth creamy texture and an lovely sweet flavor with slight mushroomy notes and a buttery, milky finish. Of course Robiola is a perfect cheese board, cheese. I love it with cherries, fig jam or orange marmalade. Roasted red peppers and olives are also quite nice. Baguette slices are always perfect but a rustic walnut bread is very lovely. There’s a good one at Costco! I will “cook” with Robiola too. What grows together goes together and think truffle. On my list for dinner this week is, naan bread (yep, Costco again) warmed and slightly crisped in the oven. Spread a luxurious slather of robiola, slivers of prosciutto and topped with wild arugula, a drizzle of white truffle oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Warm Robiola in the oven for a heavenly gooey, cheesy spread. I love it topped with roasted mushrooms and asparagus, here’s a quick recipe and any leftovers can be tossed...
NYE 2016

NYE 2016

The Chefs have been working on the menu under the careful watch of Chef Justin who, as much as he would love to be in the ZZest kitchen that night,has to do a little chicken frying at that other place… Porch. Been there yet? It’s great! Also, in house Somm, Jason, has been working on some gorgeous wine pairings with Tyler Melton from Libation Project. Jason too, will be busy that night at Porch, but Tyler is stepping in to give us a hand. This is going to be fab menu with some (in Tyler’s words) pretty geeky wine. I like geeky, and I like fun, Tyler is fun! Call for reservations 507.424.0080. Two seatings 6pm and 8:30pm ZZest NYE Chef’s Tasting 6 courses $65 wine pairing $25 1- charcuterie and cheese . accoutrements 2- chanterelle mushroom soup . parsnip . chestnut . pickled pear 3- clam . potato . herb gelee . house oyster cracker . intermezzo – thai basil . black pepper . caramelized pineapple 4 -braised lamb . cavatelli pasta . cavolo nero . pomegranate . ramp vinegar . coffee 5- veal leg steak . sunchoke . soybean . pickled cauliflower. dukkah . brown butter 6- black tea cake . creme fraiche . caramelized orange . parmesan and lemon crumble NOTE-Sometimes there’s a last minute substitution needed but so far things are looking...
oh Christmas cheese, oh Christmas cheese, how lovely are your slices

oh Christmas cheese, oh Christmas cheese, how lovely are your slices

I’m not just saying this because I’m a CCP (Certified Cheese Professional), and yes, that’s real, and kind of a big deal. But, cheese really IS perfect for the holidays! #1 Holiday Entertaining. Nothing is easier than cheese. Here’s what you do, click-Cheese Board 101. Your guests will not only think you have slaved over your gorgeous assortment but, they will also think you are very Top Chef-y. Look at you, you with your perfect pairings! Literally, it will take you minutes to assemble. #2 Hostess Gift. Cheese and a box of nutty crackers, for the hostess to enjoy after herparty. Much appreciated. #3 Dinner. With all the hustle and bustle, dinner can be put on the back burner. With cheese in the fridge and an addition of some salami or prosciutto, maybe a few olives, a dab of mustard and jam… Viola! dinner is served! Time to catch up on Walking Dead! After all, tis the season. (Well, for me, that is, gosh that Nigon! he’s despicable). #4 Holiday Happy Hour. Did the neighbors invite you for a little impromptu happy hour? What could you whip together to share? Get your dinner (cheese) left overs out and create one of these! If you think about it, it’s just your cheese board assembled in bites. Be creative, you’re gonna wow them.                 #5 Cheese is the gift for the hard to buy for OR anyone! Select 5 put in a pretty bag, tie a bow. Select 3 add a jam and crackers. Select 1 and a salami. Add some olives, dried fruit...
burrata! baby! it’s what’s for dinner

burrata! baby! it’s what’s for dinner

Tis the time of year when the gardens are glorious. It’s also the time of year I am craving burrata. Burrata is a gorgeous Italian cheese and the ultimate fresh cheese experience. It all starts with a delicate lump of fresh curd. Next, it is stretched to about the size of a coin purse. Then filled with ribbons of fresh curd and sweet cream and tied up from that coin purse to beggars purse with a little twist. This sweet delicate bundle can hold it’s own with just a drizzle of good quality olive oil and salt but when the garden is bursting, why not try these ideas. Always gently scoop the burrata from the brine and let it sit on the sideline on top of a paper towel. And, always, have some great baguette chunks to get every last bite of the milky gloriousness. Slice some watermelon radishes, chop up some fresh herbs toss in a shallow bowl with a drizzle of good peppery olive oil and sea salt. Top with the burrata whole, a bit more oil salt and grinding of pepper. Serve with a spoon. Dig in. Roast or grill some fresh asparagus, cherry tomatoes with a little olive oil and salt. Arrange on a plate. Top with burrata, fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Let some thinly sliced fennel hang out in a bowl wIth lemon olive oil and about 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic. In 15 minutes tear up the burrata add some fresh mint. Whip up some pasta cooked perfect al dente, of course. Toss with olive oil, add...
are you crazy? you’re done right? how old are you anyway?

are you crazy? you’re done right? how old are you anyway?

I’m preparing for those questions once again. The first time was about 20 years ago. I had a boy and a girl, ages 9 and 7 and was heading into my 40s. Life was easy, the future bright, a perfect little family. Then I found out I was pregnant and we were starting Zubay Family: Part 2. We were excited though. We happily told friends and family our news. Then came the comments Wow, really? You already have 1 boy and 1 girl… Are you crazy? You’re done after that, right? And (my favorite) How old are you anyway? But here we are again with some joyous news! We are adding to the ZZest family. There’s an awesome, super cool building in downtown Rochester: the historic train depot (formally El Loro) is ours to lease. The bones are solid, and the parking lot is a big plus. We have a fabulous design (and great food) in progress. Are we crazy?! Maybe! Times 2! Because it won’t be just one restaurant it will be TWO! We’re having twins! Due Oct/Nov 2016: PORCH. Urban farm fare. For those of you who know the Twin Cities restaurant scene, think Brasa and Revival sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. For those not familiar, think casual, rustic, come-as-you-are, pull up a chair, and SHARE! The bar will pour pilsners of your favorite everyday beers, like PBR, Mich Golden, maybe even Grainbelt. No worries, beer connoisseurs. Craft beers will play nicely right along side the domestics. The full bar will included the usual, but big sister ZZest will influence some great cocktails and the wine list....