Mindy Reed had originally opened Zin American Bistro with her late husband, Chef Nicolas Klontz, and then Zini Cafe Mediteranno. Zini is a casual place focusing on Mediterranean cuisine with an emphasis on Spanish and Italian dishes. The menu is seasonal and uses locally grown, sustainable produce, meats and line caught seafood.
David Cohen, food/dining blogger for VisitPalmSprings.com interviews Mindy at lunchtime at the Zini Cafe.
How does Zini Cafe differ foodwise from Zin American Bistro?
Zin American Bistro focuses on American cuisine with a French flair, while the food at Zini reflects the coastal fare primarily of Spain and Italy, including panini sandwiches, pastas, fresh fish and small tapas plates.
Given your passion for wines, what type of wine matches up well with the food at Zini?
Italian whites such as pinot grigio and Albarino from Spain marry well with seafood as do roses, for example, with zuppe de pesce (fish stew). Also, Spanish reds such as Garnacha, Rioja and Ribera work well with the gutsy flavors of Zini’s tapas including serrano ham and manchego cheese, grilled baby octopus with tomato hummus, crostini and honeyed pinenuts and Cabrales bleu cheese with pork bruschetta. We also do 5 reds (bottle) at $20, 5 at $30 and 5 at $40.
What best describes Zini Cafe?
I’d say fresh/innovative with locally grown ingredients. We run specials every Sunday throughout the year with 3 different paellas for $15/person and every Wednesday, pizza or pasta and salad specials for $16.
Tell me a bit about your culinary background..
I spent 10 years at the Spa Casino doing an array of jobs including managing the dining room. I was a bartender at the Chophouse where I met Nicolas who was the chef. When Nicolas passed away, I was left with 2 restaurants and no chef, so I really had to immerse myself in every facet of restaurateuring. Now I have Chef Alan Leyva from Oceanside overseeing the kitchen at Zini and we have revamped the menu to feature foods of the Mediterranean.
What sets Zini apart from other restaurants in Palm Springs?
We have a 9 pm happy hour. Plus we focus on sustainable seafood and free range poultry, as well as emphasizing on a wide range of tapas.
How has dining out changed since opening your first place in the desert?
There are now a lot more chef owned restaurants in the valley, resulting in an overall higher quality of dining. Of course, organic farms which are biodiverse and sustainable produce farm to table produce greatly enhancing the flavors and freshness of fruits and vegetables.
What do you cook when you’re at home?
Simple food like fish, but in reality, I’m usually nibbling on cheese and crackers or eggs and a glass or two of wine. I’m usually too exhausted at the end of the day to contemplate spending much time in the kitchen.
What’s your favorite dish on the menu?
I really like eggs, so I’d have to say the Tunisian egg dish (lightly fried up yet still runny) with roasted red peppers, garbanzo beans, potatoes, goat cheese and chicken sausage--hearty and oh so satisfying. (Editor’s note: we had it for lunch and it is delicious.)
What makes Palm Springs like no place else?
Of course, there’s the gorgeous weather, but what I really love is the diversity of its population, the sense of inclusiveness, and a joie de vivre that rivals New Orleans.