Aficionados of gourmet foods and fine wines will be pleased to know that a short jaunt off Highway 50 to Pleasant Valley Road leads to Zachary Jack Market and C.G. Di Arie Winery Tasting Room. This is the place for a culinary adventure, whether you want to try something new, or relish a favorite in a new combination.
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Patrons of the former Zachary Jacques, the highly-acclaimed French country inn that operated for years on the site, will recognize the unpretentious building. It has a giant rooster sculpture on the roof, a clue that good food is to be found inside.
Chef John Evans and his wife, Lynnette, remembered dining there when they drove by the empty building in search of a restaurant to buy. John and Lynnette had met while working in a restaurant, and she had always been involved in the business.
John had paid his dues, and was ready to have his own restaurant. Always venturesome when it came to food, John’s father introduced him to foods from different countries from early boyhood. He respects home cooks, saying they can make great meals. Professionals take it to another level and beyond, learning their techniques from master chefs who studied with master chefs before.
Evans was an honors graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. He worked and trained under Chef Mark Hopper at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Las Vegas, and opened Mesa Grill in Caesar’s Palace with Bobby Flay. In the culinary world, Las Vegas is a mecca, and these chefs are superstars. Evans compared working in Las Vegas with Hell’s Kitchen–intense, demanding, exciting, exhausting, competitive. He survived, thrived, and learned.
When John and Lynnette bought the former restaurant, they intended to open their own country restaurant. But the expense of upgrading and the costs of propane, water, electricity and other services at that site led them to Plan B. They bought the former Redbud, in Cameron Park, another popular restaurant that had developed a loyal following. They call it ZacJack Bistro, where John serves “everyday gourmet cuisine” for breakfast, lunch and dinner. His concept is to serve delicious California cuisine prepared using classic French cooking techniques and farm fresh ingredients at affordable prices. El Dorado County and French wines complement the meals.
Now that John had his restaurant, the question remained, “What to do with the building on Pleasant Valley Road?” He remembered Sattui Marketplace, a deli and gift shop located in the Sattui Winery in St. Helena. He modeled his Zachary Jack Market after Sattui, and invited Chaim Gur-Arieh to have a tasting room for his C.G. Di Arie wines in the market.
On a Saturday afternoon, Nov. 16, John gave a series of 30-minute seminars on food and wine pairing, using food items from the market and C.G. DiArie wines. As an educator, storyteller and entertainer, he goes from cheeky (“Life is too short to eat cr**ppy food”) to sublime (French cuisine is a different way of working. They use every part of the animal. They have a feeling of reverence for the animal’s sacrifice.)
He approached the pairing based on the five major tastes on the tongue: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (savory). John provided different samples of each from foods that pair with wines from Viognier to Zinfandel. Wines were served by Chaim Gur-Arieh and his wife, Elisheva.
The market is lined with shelves of specialty items, condiments and craft beers. Ask Lynnette about the many ways they can be used.
Because the market is equipped with a full restaurant kitchen, many of the foods are made in-house. John takes pride in using all natural products. Food ingredients are sourced from family purveyors, local farms and vendors. Charcuteries, such as duck breast pate and wild salmon mousse, pair with the market’s international cheeses, sauces and jams, and breads. Fresh breads are available too.
Three plates are on the takeout menu. They change periodically, but a sample is Nieman Ranch Short Rib, Slow Cooked Duck Leg and Thigh, and Dixon Lamb Shank. These dishes may be accompanied by a ragout, a salad, or seasonal beans.
Three daily sandwiches make a special lunch or light dinner. Current offerings are: Classic Three Meat Italian Sub, Bhan Mi (pork paté), and Caprese.
C.G. Di Arie wines are available by the glass or bottle.
Most of the desserts are made by Five-Star Austrian Chef Gerhard Michler, from the San Francisco Bay area. They can be purchased whole or by the slice. Current desserts are cherry pistachio tart, lemon cranberry tart, princess cake, chocolate hazelnut cake and tiramisu. In addition, cannolis and cookies are made at the market.
Zachary Jack is located at 1821 Pleasant Valley Road, Placerville. It is open Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The telephone number is 530-626-8045. Call any time.
Lynnette invites people to call or stop by. She will help you build your own gourmet gift baskets with wine, beer and food pairings. You can also select your own party platters, and pick up a special dessert.
You don’t have to go far to have gourmet food at reasonable prices to enjoy with family and friends. And wine to go with it.