Teatro ZinZanni: Raising the Culinary Bar
Ah, Teatro ZinZanni: where dinner theater meets Cirque du Soleil. A five-course dinner and Euro-style cirque, cabaret, spectacle, clowning, acrobatics, aerial and balance artistry, comedy, magic, illusions, and live music that in total runs just over 3 hours, this show was conceived by Norm Langill (CEO of One Reel and Artistic Director of Teatro ZinZanni) and founded in Seattle in October 1998 with a Belgian cabaret tent (or spiegeltent) dubbed the Palais Nostalgique. In 2000 Teatro ZinZanni (tent and all) was moved to San Francisco’s Embarcadero. In 2002, another Belgian tent was once again raised in Seattle – at 6th and Battery – this one built in 1910 and nicknamed the Moulin Rouge (a tent almost completely destroyed by the Nazis). Chef Tom Douglas was brought in to design the culinary menu. In November 2007, Teatro ZinZanni then moved to its current 222 Mercer Street address, and brought on chef David vanGelder to implement Tom’s designs.
Your Hedonista caught a show a couple of years ago at the old 6th and Battery locale – and although the show was spectacular, the food was … so-so.
So, this past Sunday night Teatro ZinZanni was revisited (as a media guest). Their new Beaumont & Caswell show (directed by Norm Langill and Peter Bonerz) runs from October 15, 2009 to January 17, 2010 and is played by Seattleite Christine Deaver and Kevin Kent respectively. The show was – as always – pure entertainment; but this time around, there was wisely more focus on the food than the already-fab fanfare. Although the cast and performance was superb – not to mention the audience participation – the menu has evolved. In a good way. Gourmet-quality food, complete with wine pairings. Check out these tasting notes:
The appetizer: light ‘n’ whipped herbed goat cheese mousse with locally smoked black cod, mini toasts, marcona almonds and spicy pickled grapes. The wine: Rive della Chiesa Frizzante Prosecco, Colli Trevigiani, Italy nv. The dry citrus prosecco, with its walnutty finish was a lovely pairing to the creamy cheese, smoky cod, almonds and grapes.
The soup: fab creamy butternut squash and caramelized onions puréed and topped with a nice, subtle curried sour cream, chives and tasty toasted pumpkin seeds. The wine: O’Reilly’s Pinto Gris, Columbia Valley, Washignton 2007. Perhaps my second-favorite wine of the evening, after the prosecco. Had a great bouquet – very fresh and floral – with a nice clean mouth feel. Great with the creamy-curry-crunchy textures of the soup.
The salad: frisée, spinach, bacon, maple molasses pecans, bing cherries with a sherry vinaigrette. The wine: P.Ferraud & Fils Beaujolais, Villages Les Merrains, France 2007. The smoky, slightly floral bouquet meets a cherry/raspberry tartness – almost an acidic quality. Admittedly my least fav dish – found the pairing – although arguably perfect – too high in its vinegar/acidity level.
The main courses: guests get three choices. I opted out of the vegetarian option (a mushroom strata) and tried the meats. The beef tenderloin – complete with syrah jam, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and green beans. Simple, but great – pure comfort food. And the Arctic char – complete with a saffron aioli and roasted tomato and caper relish topping, roasted red spuds and roast fennel and green beans – tasted exactly as expected: pleasant, fresh, and light. The wines: with the beef, the pairing was a Col D’Orcia Rosso di Montalcino, Italy 2006 (fruity, but way too much strength in the tannins); with the char, it was the R Stuart Big Fire Pinot Noir, Oregon 2007 (although the smoky fruitiness went down well enough with the char, a white wine would be better, here).
The dessert: chocolate mousse with an orange creme filling, complete with a white chocolate wand à la the magic of Teatro ZinZanni (creamy, light and heavenly). The wine: Quinta de la Rosa Tonel no. 12 (orange bouquet, decadent and silky-smooth mouth feel). A match made in heaven.
Menu enhancements ($6 solo, $12 with wine): artisan cheese sampler, where Washington and Oregon meet France – Camembert, OR Rogue River blue cheese, WA Beecher’s flagship cheese … paired nicely with Château d’Orignac Pineau des Charentes. (A cab/merlot/cognac blend. Think smoked honey over mixed berries.) There’s also the Forté specialty chocolates sampler, served with the Quinta de la Rosa Tonel no. 12 (see above). Once again, a match made in heaven.
General admission: $104 for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday shows; $125 for Saturday shows. All shows start at 6:30 p.m., with the exception of the Sunday performances, which begin at 5:30 p.m. Prices go up for Premium Floor seating and again for Inner Ring seats.
Additional student discounts: $49 student tix (beginning tonight and carrying through all Sundays in November).
Additional upcoming events: October 31: Teatro ZinZombie – A Macabre Ball; November 1: Teatro celebrates its 10+ year anniversary with ZinZanniversary; and November 7 and 21: Brunch performances (made up of three courses and a 2-hour show – adults pay $73, children 12 and under pay $51, and seniors and students pay $58); and December 5, 12, and 19: Saturday matinees.
These days, not only the trapeze bar is being raised in the ol’ Moulin Rouge spiegeltent; these days, the culinary bar has also been raised.
“Art as dinner, dinner as art” – they finally got it right. Bravo, David!
Now go and get your dose of love, chaos and dinner – for that’s what a life of hedonism is all about, no?