Sunday, November 16, 2008

Love, Chaos & Dinner

Teatro Zinzanni is, in simplest terms, a dinner show in San Francisco. However, the term dinner show doesn't remotely do it justice; it's wild, surreal, naughty, and european, with very good food. The teatro is in a tent, specifically an antique spiegeltent from Belgium, and is very cozy. I went to the show several years ago with my friend Vincene (wild horses haven't as yet been able to drag my faithful husband to the show) and we had a wonderful time. This was dinner as theater; the servers were dressed in bizarre costumes, creeping me out a little, which I loved!

There is aways a Madame Zinzanni who entertains us and presides over the show. At that time la Madame was Maria Muldaur (Midnight at the Oasis) and la Madame changes with the show, every few months. When I got an email the week before last Halloween, inviting me to Teatro Zinzombie, I was obsessed! I had to find a partner in Halloween crime. Begging my husband to go with me, to no avail (I even brought out the wild horses), I mentioned Zinzombie to my good friend Robin who immediately said she was in! Robin is my Halloween buddy - we have trick or treated our neighbors, been chased by crazy chain-saw waving maniacs, and just generally love Halloween! Not bad for a couple of dames in our 50's!

This time I didn't even know who the entertainment was going in, but was blown away to hear Madame Z was the great Thelma Houston, disco diva from the 70's! She was in fabulous form as our Madame Zinzombie, along with El Vez, the Mexican Elvis, who rocked our mundo, and Christine Deaver, who makes a vunderful Marlena Dietriech. The show was the current show, Hearts on Fire, with a Halloween twist. Our servers were zombies, with cut throats, great for the appetite, and the band played Halloweeny music before the show started.

Warning - do not arrive really hungry. Seating starts at 6:30 pm and there is small appetizer at your place setting. In this case it was corn flan with marinated red onion and a couple of tortilla chips. We were really hungry and the appetizer was delicious but not very filling. The show starts at 7 pm and then there is a break for the soup course - Egyptian lentil that night. Delicious and complex, with immediate notes of cumin and then lemon. The next act, then la Madame commands us to have the salad! You get the idea. We did get to choose the main course - there was a pork chop, chicken dish and then two vegetarian courses which I dismissed out of hand. Five out of six at our table chose the pork chop - and it was delish! I rarely order pork because I'm afraid it will be tough but this was very nice - not fork tender but tender enough. Dessert was served at about 10 pm when the show was over. Dessert was good but not memorable. The
only thing that displeased me was the coffee! It was awful - as in flavorless and a bit sour. Even if I didn't work for the best coffee company in existence - Peet's - I would have noticed how bad it was. But in the grand scheme, I could live with it.

Because it was Halloween there was a costume contest. The couple next to us were dressed as pirates and the man kept holding up his sword and growling "arrrrrr." Loved it. So if you want to part with lots of cash ($135 that night), sit with total strangers, be entertained by extremely talented apparent lunatics, and have a great meal, you gotta do the Teatro. I will definitely
be going again.

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