Monday, September 21, 2009
TBG Eats: Zócalo
Current Weight: 168.8 lbs.
It was Mrs. Bootleg's birthday last Monday. In the weeks leading up to it, I'd repeatedly asked the wife how she wanted to celebrate – only to have her respond with indecision and/or indifference. This was a far cry from my planned-in-advance idea to annihilate the animal kingdom for MY birthday feast back in March.
All I knew for certain was that Jalen's Smokin' Hot Babysitter was scheduled to show up at 6:30 PM on the Saturday night before Mrs. Bootleg's birthday. 24 hours earlier, my wife STILL didn't know what she wanted to do. I found her on the laptop perusing Joe Reid's Low Resolution blog for movie ideas:
"SEE?! Joe Reid liked 'Julie & Julia'! Let's see that."
Mrs. Bootleg always refers to Joe by his full name. This kills me for some reason. It's similarly awesome to see my wife rely on Joe as our family's cinematic conscience. All this time, I thought Black women leaned towards Roger Ebert for some unexplained reason. But, what do I know?
Not long before the sitter arrived, Mrs. Bootleg had finalized her birthday plans: dinner and a movie. Or, maybe, a movie and then dinner. Oh, yeah…this evening will end well.
We left the house around 6:45 PM. And, despite her annoyingly overt disinterest in the proceedings, Mrs. Bootleg sure spent a lot of time fixing her hair and finding an outfit. She looked classy enough for me to ditch my usual shorts and t-shirt ensemble. Instead, I went with jeans and a long-sleeve.
Too bad, I haven't bought a pair of jeans since I dropped about 20 lbs. last summer. If this was 1994 and baggy, off-your-ass jeans were still in-style, I might've been able to pull it off. As it were, I looked even more emaciated than usual. And, much to Mrs. Bootleg's consternation, I still refused to wear a belt even though it would've been hidden by my overflowing XXL shirt. A belt with jeans is uncool, right? It's akin to wearing shorts with the shirt tucked in, isn't it? 1994 was also the last year I knew anything about the unwritten fashion "rules". It's possible they've changed.
Right out of the gate, Mrs. Bootleg's plans had apparently changed, too:
"Let's go see 'District 9', instead. Joe Reid liked that, too."
I've previously mentioned that Stately Bootleg Manor is completely run by my wife. She handles the finances, plans the vacations, cooks, (kinda-sorta) cleans…the whole deal. Despite this skill set, she remains…umm, "challenged" when it comes to arranging things we don't do too often.
"The movie starts at 7:00 PM, dude. It'll take us 15 minutes just to drive to the theater, find a parking space and wait in line just to get to the ticket window. We're either going to be in the front row or forced to sit separately."
Mrs. Bootleg "decided" to do dinner first.
Zócalo is some sort of weird fusion between Spanish and pretentious. The exterior is upscale and classy, but the colors are L-O-U-D. Their somewhat pricey menu belies the cheesy sports bar quality of three prominent flat screen TVs hanging on the walls. (Of course, the TVs were showing the fourth quarter of the Ohio State/USC game, so I'm willing to forgive and forget on this one.)
Drinks: Mrs. Bootleg opted for a mojito. This is a drink that shouldn't be. Across the long, glorious history of sustenance, mint has been an overpowering impediment on the road to delicious. Take the slightly bittersweet, yet understated simplicity of chocolate chip ice cream. Mint chocolate chip ice cream? An abomination. Lamb curry can be a delightfully spicy dish. Lamb with mint jelly? Jelly on meat? And, Lord, don't get me started on mint juleps. Bourbon never hurt anyone until it was muddled with mint leaves. Fat Tire beer for me.
Appetizers: Quick quiz – what are the two appetizers Mr. & Mrs. Bootleg always order if they're available on the menu? Crab cakes and calamari, yes! Longtime readers are rewarded on this lightly-read blog, kids. The "crispy harina masa ("massa?!") fried shrimp and calamari" was soggy and bland. The tomato-lime sauce it came with had the taste and consistency of baby food. Meanwhile, the blue-corn crab cakes weren't much better. I maintain people order crab cakes because they don't like the taste of crab. I wanna taste the bread crumbs, seasonings and dippin' sauce. These tasted like crab. Ick. Grade: 1 (out of 5) for both.
Entrées: I went with the blue-crab stuffed king salmon. Topped with a lime butter sauce and served over a bed of cilantro rice, this…was…phenomenal. The mild salmon taste wasn't at all overwhelmed by the generous amount of fresh crab meat. And, I could've guzzled the lime butter sauce straight from the spigot. Mrs. Bootleg opted for the chili-rubbed bone-in ribeye. I had a few bites and wasn't digging it. The steak was drowning in "tomato-ancho pan gravy" and had a burnt aftertaste. Grade: 500 for the salmon, 1.5 for the steak.
Dessert: About ten years ago, I traveled to Georgia on business and found a place that served a deep-fried strawberry cheesecake. To this day, it remains the greatest dessert I've ever eaten. Zócalo's roasted banana cheesecake checks in at a strong second. The texture reminded me of a firm banana bread batter, while the buttery, brick-thick graham cracker crust could've been served by itself. I came this close to licking a plate in public. Grade: 500
Postscript: Mrs. Bootleg was (sigh) "too full" to go to a movie, afterwards. Instead, we went to a nearby bar, drank a beer and played Ms. Pac-Man until we were certain Jalen was asleep. Whee.