Saturday, December 08, 2007

Tangled in the tentacles

Last night, we completed some errands. As dinner had not been defrosted (or planned), the executive decision was made to dine out. The only criteria Ed had was "NO Mexican", the only one I had was "No pasta", as another manager had offered to make Baked Ziti for the staff in exchange for donations to the designated charity.

Once we'd left our first stop, the topic of where are we eating came up. I mentioned Greek, Ed said that sounded good and we had to make a slight detour to head west over to Ybor City to Acropolis. There will be a review on Wine and Foodies either today or tomorrow.

I love me some Greek food. Like Mexican, it can be consumed nearly every day and I'd still want more. The native born in the area that I know (very few of those around here) all mention it as being the best Greek around if you want more than a Gyro. There's a great hidden gem in Brandon, Romano's, but they're a blend of Greek and Italian in a storefront that reminds one of a diner.

Ybor City, Friday night. We may be fools for going to party central on a Friday night-but I wanted Greek and it was early enough that I didn't think we'd be dealing with drunken rowdies. At the hostess stand, we were told it'd be about fifteen minutes or so and my cell number was taken so that we could walk around.

I'd been down another Ybor street a few times, but during the day. At night, this place seems like a hyped up Market Street in Frederick, crossed with the Village in NYC. Each block has a tattoo parlor, an outdoor bar (only in Florida, folks!) and plenty of places for the young and carefree to congregate. We walked four or five blocks, then turned around and only had a couple of minutes to wait for a table.

Once inside, the belly dancers, music and flying napkins indicated that "OPA!" is the way it is here. They have a nice menu which is not very broad. That's smart. Gameboy is our challenge in these foodie inspired meals. Was there something he would eat when the menu was traditional?

Fortunately, they offer a burger. Onto Chef Jr. He's got a personal goal. At eight years old, he is checking off the list of sea creatures that he has tried. His goal is to eat all of the edible delicacies that the waters of the world hold. (No manatee on that list, but whale is). The blinking neon sign at the top of the "I really want to try THIS" list was Octopus.

He looks at the menu and is a little confused by the greek lettering, but then I pointed out the english just below. I pointed out that they had Octopus and that was all she wrote. The description made it sound like it was served cold, and I feared he wouldn't like it. Have some Patsitsio kiddo, you know you'll love that. He settled for that, but glum was still written across his face.

I asked "Are you really sure you want it, even if its cold?" Yes, he said, he was sure he wanted it. It was the holy grail of his food exploration. I told him if he didn't like it, he could share my sandwich. I even ordered an appetizer, just to be on the safe side, to put some food in his belly, lest he hate his meal. (I think we were all very happy with that appetizer, btw. Need to seek and acquire that cheese)

Our server was surprised at our young man's selection, but when I explained about our Crustacean Kid, it became clear. He explained that it was served warm and the lemon marinade would be in the bowl like a broth and served with pita bread on the side. Sold.

Then our meals arrived. Gameboy, as is typical, turned up his nose at his meal. I was very pleased with my choice and Ed appeared to have an extremely abundant plate. Chef Jr looked at his food and you could see the trepidation in his eyes. He was probably wondering what in the world he'd gotten himself into, as this looked like chopped up stuff, not octopus.

He picked at the first piece, which looked like a tiny purple rectangle. He ate and wrinkled his nose. The bottomless pit professed that he was not hungry anymore. I offered some of my food, some fries, bread, whatever. Nothing doing. The child sat there, and it was clear he was upset-with himself. The Octopus had bested him. He did NOT like it.

Ed and I continued to eat and enjoy and we told him it was okay, but clearly, this was not okay to him. He's supposed to love everything from the ocean. This must be an imposter octopus, because he thought it'd be better.

Once Ed had bested his piled plate (and let me tell you, I almost ordered what he did-I am so glad I got the smaller item), he asked for Chef's bowl. Then he took a piece that looked like crab leg, for lack of a better description. He peeled off a piece and proclaimed it good Octopus (Ed had eaten it before).

This, father instructed son on what was tender and what was not and Ed proffered a piece at the child. He ate pensively and was hard to read. Like? Hate? As soon as he was done, he asked for more. He LOVED it. Really loved it.

For about twenty minutes, the kid was tangled in the tentacles because he'd chosen a rubbery piece. Thankfully, daddy got him untangled and he's got a new favorite sea creature to eat.

I suspect that the leftovers were the first thing the child went to dine on today!

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