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Pasta Perfection

Day Two - Emily

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Greatest Strength -- Tough to narrow down; when I started to ask if she was the best at something, she corrected me: "the *greatest*"
Weakest Weakness -- Drive for perfection in her poetry led to most of the date being her groaning at the heavily-scribbled page in front of her
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I think I might have come here when I was a child? That may be a false memory."
Snapshot: The traditional end-of-date selfie is taking a little longer than either of us would prefer, with challenging lighting conditions and my hair not being just so. Eventually, Emily asks if "anyone has ever compared these pasta dates to a prison".
Creative Challenge -- "Write a limerick that contains the word 'pumpkin'"

Result:

(Transcription)
There once was a man quite drunken
Who was saucily eyeing a pumpkin
In a manner quite sloppy
And somewhat too floppy
Humped it until it turned sunken

--

Emily prides herself on her numerous positive qualities, as well as her flaws. Her biting wit can be a little off-putting (you should see the first draft of her limerick, which got pretty personal IMO) but she is a joy to converse with, if you can keep up.

Incidentally, her job is way more likely to be automated than mine, despite what "everyone knows". Just putting that out there. I'm gonna be fine, okay? Okay?!

Vino's Vegan Victual:
2/50

Emily's Edible was
A Big Bowl Of Cheese Puffs

48 dates to go! Thanks for dining with me, Emily. You are very charming.

Day One - Leslie

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Greatest Strength -- Much like a homing pigeon with a part time job, Leslie can always find the most direct route to a Target from an arbitrary starting point.
Weakest Weakness -- Sales on spooky halloween pajamas
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I don't know. I'm not picky. If somebody wanted to go here, I'd go."
Snapshot: "I'll take the breadsticks," I offer graciously, placing them in my bag before Leslie has a chance to ask for one. "I can give them to my cowor-"
Her demeanor changes before I can even finish my sentence. "DID YOU SAY CORGIS??"
"N...no. Coworkers."
"Ahh.....I love corgis, though."
Creative Challenge -- "Draw a Pikachu from memory."

Result:


(The marinara stains are my own. I apologize deeply for my desecration of this art, and I pray that the audience will not hold the damage against Leslie when determining this year's victor)

--

Leslie is a college student studying geography, and she was a very good sport about my pointed questions about the career options of a field that has been obsolesced by the existence of the humble GPS. My smugness evaporated, however, when both of our phones died simultaneously, and the waiter asked us what the capital of Turkey was, and what was the difference between a basin and a plain.

Vino's Vegan Victual:
1/50

Leslie's Lunch:
Creamy Mushroom Sauce

49 dates to go! Thank you for dining with me, Leslie! You were great!

Special Edition Bonus Content

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Welcome to All of Garden! If you're visiting for the first time, click here.

With our recent sordid (part one) business (part two) concluded, it's time for a fun treat!

There was a lot of media coverage of the trademark adventure, and, as expected, the comments sections were abuzz with some great content. After stripping out the standard racist invective, anti-Olive Garden hate speech, etc, I collected my favorite limericks therein.

I have reprinted them all here without permission (naturally, I now consider myself above all intellectual property laws*) and immortalized each with a unique, never-before-posted Never Ending Pasta Bowl combination. Congratulations to these fine writers!

If and when the Never Ending Pasta Bowl returns in 2017, expect to see another 7 weeks of pasta adventures here. Until then, follow me on twitter @AllOfGarden for any and all updates. :)

*For real, if you see your limerick here and want me to take it down just email me and I will comply post-haste.

An unfortunate misunderstanding - Conclusion

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As of six thirty-five in the PMs
I've wrapped up my talks with the chieftains
They were misconstrued;
I'm not getting sued
And I needn't write out any ™s

Yes! An official who represents Darden
Has granted me a total pardon
We've reached resolution
I received absolution
For daring to print "olive garden"

The source of the problem was sought
And the sender-offender was caught!
That e-mail was provided
(If you wonder [as I did])
by a prodigious, litigious spam-bot.

My sole issue with Legal's retort
Was the prose of their written report
The demand was specific:
a reply via lim'rick
Well. At least I'm not going to court.

An unfortunate misunderstanding

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As you may have seen on the Internet's number one non-pasta-related site, Reddit, I'm currently in the midst of what I can only assume is a huge misunderstanding with Darden about my use of their trademarks. I will keep all my fans updated here with the happenings in real-time.

For future reference, here is the full text of the email.


from: [email protected]
to: [email protected]
date: Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 10:01 AM

To Whom It May Concern:

As you are likely aware, Darden is a full-service restaurant company, and owns and operates over 1,500 restaurants through subsidiaries under the Olive Garden®, LongHorn Steakhouse®, The Capital Grille®, Yard House®, Seasons 52®, Bahama Breeze®, and Eddie V's Prime Seafood® brands and has a portfolio of over 650 trademarks in over 70 countries related to the same (collectively "Trademarks”.)

In connection with Darden Corporation’s proprietary rights over its famous trademark(s) we are notifying you of the following:

Darden Corporation has recently learned that the trademark Olive Garden appears as a metatag, keyword, visible or hidden text on the web site(s) located at the below listed URL(s) without having obtained prior written authorization from Darden Corporation. This practice infringes upon the exclusive intellectual property rights of Darden Corporation.

http://allofgarden.com/

As a trademark owner, Darden Corporation is obligated to enforce its rights by taking action to ensure that others do not use its trademarks without permission. Unauthorized use of the trademark(s) could create a likelihood of confusion with Darden Corporation’s trademark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site(s), online location(s), products or services.

In light of the above, we request that you respond to this e-mail within ten (10) days, informing us that you have removed all metatags, keywords, visible or hidden texts including trademark(s) presently appearing on the above-cited website(s) and any other website(s), or draw this issue to the attention of the appropriate person(s).

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Darden Corporation
[email protected]

After discussion with many internet people who could possibly be lawyers I have emailed this reply. I am awaiting their response.

from: Vino
to: [email protected]
date: Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 8:47 AM

Mr. Forcements -- may I call you Branden? Since this an asynchronous mode of communication, I'm going to assume you are magnanimously acquiescing, and I will refer to you as Branden forthwith -- I received your email yesterday.

I am not aware of any law against reviewing food and describing it using the name of the company from which it was procured. Some might even call it Nominative Fair Use. I have helpfully included a link to Wikipedia™, The Free Encyclopedia™, for more information on this concept, in case you are new. Just click on the blue words to access the HyperLink™, and you will be transported there in great haste.

With that in mind, can you be more specific about what you would like me to do? If you want me to remove references to the Olive Garden from my blog, which, I remind you, solely consists of references to Olive Garden, I'm afraid I must decline.

If you are asking me to simply add TradeMark® Symbols™ I must also decline, as I do not know the alt keycode for writing them.

Perhaps you are asking me to take down my blog entirely. In doing so, Darden Corporation would commit its largest crime against humanity since they started charging extra for toppings. Seriously, $2.99 for two lousy meatballs? And you're saying I ripped you off?

Please respond within nine (9) days, in limerick form.

Wishing the whole Forcements family a pleasant day,

Vincent "Vino" Malone
Olive Garden Connoisseur
Age 29 and a Half

The Seven Best and Worst of 2014-2015

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The pasta pass is back for 2016! As a little appetizer to this year's blog, let's have some fun. In honor of my favorite seven weeks, here's a look back at my seven favorite - and least favorite - pastas from the past two years.

Hall of Fame

Hall of Shame

Really looking forward to 2016's Never Ending Pasta Bowl! Watch this space. :)

New?

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If you're reaching this blog for the first time, welcome! I'm Vino, Olive Garden connoisseur, and I hope you enjoy reading it. There are two years of content to peruse, and roughly 250 reviews and high-definition pictures of Olive Garden food to salivate over. There's no real narrative or structure to the blog itself, so feel free to skip around randomly, or just start from the beginning and power through! If that seems overwhelming, here's a curated list of posts you may particularly enjoy.

All Of Garden - One Man's Quest to Eat All the Pasta
The first year (2014) Olive Garden offered the Never Ending Pasta Pass, and I decided to abandon my life of healthy mediocrity for a shot at stardom and diabetes.

Introduction Video - Big thanks to my sister, the camerawoman

Noteworthy Days
One - The journey of a thousand bowls begins with a single bite
Four - My first time eating alone
Five - My first date (if only she could see me now!)
Seven - A duet theme
Sixteen - A tribute to my second-favorite poet
Twenty-six - My olive garden mixtape
Forty- The best pun to non-pun ratio in the blog
Forty-six- A video callout of im-pasta-er Alan Martin

Noteworthy Pastas
Rime of the Ancient Marinara - Still pretty proud of this one
Cheezilla - A fan favorite
Grown Up Meal For Big Boys - A special request sauce (primavera) and topping (grilled chicken) that is a real game-changer. Highly recommended if your OG will work with you
Collecting Seashells - Based on a true story


All Love Garden - Fifty First Plates
The 2015 edition of the blog, which focuses less on the food and more on people. Don't worry - there's still plenty of pasta!

Introduction Video - The production values of this are not my own doing. The horrible audio levels, however, are
Introduction Website - I spent a lot of time stealing just the right CSS for the scrolling effect, so please appreciate it

Random Dates (All dates were noteworthy in their own way)
Katrina - The brave first date
Marty - The Party's here
Ashley - Features a picture of a corgi
Celene- Writer of the worl'd second-best Olive Garden blog
Alycia - An Olive Garden hostess with a heart of gold

Roadtrips
San Francisco, California - I deeply regret not getting better photos of this beautiful city
Phoenix, Arizona - I deeply regret giving a con artist $10 in this oppressively hot city
Las Vegas, Nevada - Make sure to mouseover that picture

Noteworthy Pastas
Rice-A-Roni - Least appetizing
The Chicken - I never did get the meter quite right here
The End - Most photogenic

Epilogue

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Thank you all for reading through my blog! It was a labor of love, and while I looked forward to each date and each bowl of pasta, I am very glad to be done. If you're wondering what I'm eating these days, it's mostly homemade food, supplemented with regular trips to my local Del Taco. I have not yet gotten a craving for pasta.

A very special thanks to all 50 of my dates, as well as two dates that didn't make it onto the blog proper due to poor photography on my part. Isai and Zoo, I hope that the free food was compensation enough for your time. I enjoyed my meal with each of you.

This will be my final post for 2015. If the Neverending Pasta Bowl returns next year, I may as well. Not sure what sort of blog it'll be then. I'm thinking something travel-related; going to new cities and exploring the regional cuisine was a fun part of this year's outing.

Until then - stay hungry, my friends.


(one last bad selfie for the road)

Day Fifty-One: Analysis Part Two: Budget

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The question I am asked second-most (after the first) is if I'm getting my "money's worth out of that pass, haha!!"

Yes and no.

I received the Pasta Pass Family edition, which covered my meal and the meal of up to three additional guests. Dinners were always a one-on-one affair, but for lunches I'd usually treat three (sometimes fewer) friends or coworkers. On average, I'd estimate the number of Neverending Pasta Bowls procured per day at around five.

Average Olive Garden Meal:
Entree: $9.99
Drink: $2.80*
Topping: $3.00
Ravioli: $0.40**
Pre-Tax Total: $16.19
Grand Total: $17.49
*Coca Cola products are $2.99, and are comped by the pass. Almost everyone got one, but not everybody
**Ravioli is an additional $2.99. Most people didn't get it - I'm averaging

That $9.99 NEPB you saw advertised added up quick, eh?

So! With 49 days and roughly 5 of these meals comped per day, the total amount of money saved was $4,285.05. The Pasta Pass Family edition retailed this year for $300, so I definitely did get my money's worth! But that's not the whole story...

While I did get an enormous amount of free food, the pass doesn't cover everything. Sometimes, my date would order something that wasn't a Never Ending Pasta Bowl (I know, I know, that should've been a red flag). Dipping sauces, desserts, alcoholic beverages, flavored teas, other entrees - none of these are covered by the pass. Being a gentleman, I'd usually pay for them out of pocket with only the slightest of passive-aggressive remarks. I'd estimate these incidentals cost me around $75 over the course of the seven weeks.

Far more significant were the tips. I tipped $5, per person, per meal. I occasionally paid for the tips of my lunchtime friends/coworkers, and always paid for my dates. Here are some numbers!

$75 of assorted incidentals
49 lunches at $7.50 tip each (average based off tipping for myself and occasionally friends) : $367.50
53 dinners at $10 tip each : $530
Total: $972.50

It's true what they say: there ain't no free lunch!

Day Fifty - Analysis Part One: Nutrition

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For those of you who like facts and figures, here are some rough calculations I did about my pasta adventure this year. I'll be splitting this over a few days, because it's a lot of info, and I need to be gently weaned off my blogging habit lest I go cold turkey and get "blogger's shakes".

Today, I'll present some stats about my nutrition! What happens when a (physically) normal 27-year-old eats nothing but Olive Garden food for 49 days in a row?

Weight
One of the most frequent things people asked me on my dates was how much weight I gained. The answer is: some, but probably not as much as you'd think. Let's do the numbers!

Weight on October 5, 2015: 56.0 kg (~123 pounds)
Weight on November 23, 2015: 57.2 kg (~126 pounds)

Gaining three pounds over two months isn't exactly something to strive for, but if you're on a reverse-Atkins diet, I think you're doing alright.

The Never Ending Pasta Bowl Diet
Over the 49 days, I ate 102 meals at Olive Garden - 49 lunches, and 53 dinners. Occasionally I'd double-book an evening to work with my dates' schedules, or just because I was particularly hungry. The numbers following are all averages, and not exact.

My lunches were with coworkers, friends, acquaintances, etc, and were not blogged about. Consequently, I typically ate the same thing every time:

Lunch Calories
ItemCalories
Two breadsticks280
Three salads with croutons, no dressing300
Four Coke Zeroes0
Entree: Penee, Marinara, Chicken Meatball820
For a grand total of 1,400 calories per lunch. Again, these are averages and estimates. OG portion size is not perfectly consistent, and some days I ate more or less.
Dinner Calories
ItemCalories
One breadstick140
Four Coke Zeroes0
Three salads with croutons, no dressing300
Entree: Random pasta, Random Sauce, Random Topping1160
For an average of rougly 1,600 calories per dinner.

Dinners are trickier to calculate, because each entree was different. The only significant change from a calorie perspective was removal of one breadstick (-140 calories) and the replacement of the Marinara sauce with alfredo-based sauces (2/3 of the time) and Chicken Pomodoro (1/3 of the time). This simple change averages out to be an increase of about 340 calories a day (!) and I suspect is the cause of my weight gain.

Total Calories Consumed
So, using those numbers, we'll do some quick math.

49 lunches at 1,400 calories each: 68,600 lunch calories
53 dinners at 1,600 calories each: 84,800 dinner calories
no snacks, desserts, breakfasts, or non-OG food of any sort
153,400 calories (~3,130 per day)

That might seem like a lot, since the nutrition guidelines on the back of most food advise you to stick to around 2000 calories a day. It seems like much less when you realize this would actually be a restrictive diet for most of us Americans.

I want to stress this point: I never exercised solely for the purpose of exercising. I find exercise extremely boring and avoid it whenever possible, as is evident by my puny girl arms. However, I have a fairly active job and I biked to and from the Olive Garden regularly, so it balanced out, mostly.

Let's wrap this up. Why didn't I get gross and super fat like that asshole from Super Size Me?

Calories In, Calories Out
"Health" as a general category is really complicated! I definitely don't fully understand it, and don't claim to. But weight gain and loss is simple physics - matter/energy can't be created or destroyed. Fat doesn't magically appear on your body, and if you do work (in a physics sense, that is; exerting force on other objects) the energy that you expend likewise must come from somewhere.

Simply put, if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. The reverse is, of course, also true. It really is that simple: the laws of physics do not allow any other way. It doesn't matter if you eat big macs, neverending pasta bowls, boiled broccoli and lean chicken, or cabbage soup. Calories in and calories out is the only thing that matters in the context of simple weight change.

Thanks for reading this long as heck post! Tomorrow I'll write about the financial side of the Pasta Pass.

Day Forty-Nine: Miranda

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Demeanor -- Chardonnay-like: extremely white; an acquired taste, but rewarding
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "It's strange that you'd ask me that, given that we are best friends and have been for thirteen years (and counting). Anyway, it's pretty good."
Response to my threat to quote the ridiculous things she said in her blog entry -- "Don't count my quotes before they're hatched. From my brain."
Snapshot --

On our walk to the OG, we passed a peaceful creek where some ducks were happily nibbling on the fresh algae. I reflected on the beauty and tranquility of nature even here, in the midst of the world's brightest and noisiest city. As I was about to share these feelings, Miranda, completely unprovoked, screamed gibberish at the ducks and they flew away.

She looked at me smugly. "Yeh. I scared those birds what good."

--

True to her bizarrely-phrased response to my contractually obligated question, Miranda is, indeed, my best friend of thirteen years (and counting). She flew all the way from Austin, Texas, our hometown, to be the final date for my blog! She's funny and complicated and is responsible for my being the man I am today more than any single person I could name, save for my immediate family. Thanks for dining with me, bro - I love you very much.

No homo.

0 more dates to go. I'm...I'm free...

Today's pasta was
The End

Pasta Combination Selector