Gumby

Gumby
Chicken Meatballs swaddled in a hill of Rigatoni, smeared with Chicken Pomodoro
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Don't get me wrong, I love the chicken meatball topping. It tastes good and it has a fine calorie:protein:sodium ratio. That said, it is extremely obvious that they are frozen food and look like clay balls.

Pictured here is Gumby - if you've got a heart, then Chicken Meatball's a part of you!

Weekend Trip - San Francisco

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This weekend marked my first of my three planned road trips - the other two being Phoenix in two weeks, and Las Vegas on the last weekend. San Francisco is a dense and overwhelming city, yet only has one Olive Garden to its name! You can probably chalk that up to the type of image it strives to maintain - hip, young, independent, tech-oriented, et cetera. Still, for such a Cool Town, the Olive Garden was extremely popular.

The trip was uneventful, save for regular bilboards in the desert paid for by California farmers who blame the drought on Congress and wanted anyone driving by to know who's fault it really is. My AirBnB reservation didn't pan out (he rejected me after I told him about the blog), so I ended up having to sleep in my car at a rest stop. Womp.

Here it is - SF's extremely exclusive Olive Garden, with a grainy, foggy backdrop of the city! I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked - most turned out mediocre, since I left my camera at home and had to make do with a cell phone. We're off to a great start!!!!

Day Twenty - Claire

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Demeanor: Provolone-like: pleasantly sharp
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- ((After her second, and last, bite of her entree)) "It's okay. I don't think it's poison or anything."
Killer app that she designed: Automatically scans the news article you're reading and embeds a link to related charity that deals with whatever horrible thing is happening, to optimize your slacktivism and white guilt.
Snapshot:

Here is a list of pug puns that Claire seems to enjoy, ordered by how long they made her say "eee!" when she saw them on shirts/notebooks/bumper stickers/etc in the store we went to after dinner.

"Pug Life"
"Pugs Not Drugs"
"Pug And Play"
"Pug-et Sound"
"Pugs A Lot"
"Puggin' It!"
"PUG" (underneath an Andre the Giant OBEY style image of a pug)
"The Pug Is My Favorite Kind Of Dog; Here Is A Picture Of One"

--

A former manager-turned-coder, Claire takes a good deal of pride in knowing what she's talking about and understanding the way the world works; you can understand why management was not a good fit for her. More than anyone else I've dated so far, she seemed to genuinely dislike the food at Olive Garden, though she was very polite about it and not at all snobby - I really appreciated that!

Claire spends her free time in her apartment, located in the most difficult-to-drop-someone-off-in-on-a-Saturday-night part of San Francisco that she could find.

29 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Rice A Roni

Rice A Roni

Rice A Roni
Gluten Free Rotini drenched in Pesto Alfredo
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It felt important that I get the most San Francisco thing I could imagine, so I got a meatless, gluten-free dish that cost too much money. Maybe we can chalk this up to the city's love of wacky alternative fusion cuisine, but this looked and tasted absolutely horrible. It was like the chefs were punishing me for not going to a local indie flash-fired cupcake stand instead of the chain restaurant they were forced to work at until Google bought their startup companies.

Pictured here is Rice A Roni - lmao at that giant dollop of pesto, though.

Day Nineteen - Erica

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Demeanor: Ricotta-like: versatile, flexible
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I feel...I feel like you're putting me on the spot, right now. It's okay. I don't come here that often."
Reaction to the food, date, me, life itself: Currently under NDA, will be posted in 2023
Snapshot:

"Oh my god, are those Crocs?" She has a look on her face like my shoes just crushed a puppy.

"I...I didn't think you'd see them. You were supposed to get up from the table first, and just walk away."

"I don't know how I feel right now."

"I'm sorry."

And I meant it, too. Clearly, I flew too close to the sun with nature's most perfect footwear: a mistake I won't soon repeat.

...Unless I'm pretty sure I can get away with it. Gotta have my Crocs.

--

Erica is a charming young woman working in the video game industry, which is apparently a much bigger world than I thought, because I seem to keep running into them. She hails from the far east(ern coast of the United States: Georgia) and taught me a lot about the horrors of online dating as a woman. Most of the stories she asked I not repeat here on the blog, but they can generally be summed up like this: dudes are weird.

To Erica's credit, she did at least *attempt* to win me a giant cat pillow from the arcade. One day, it will be mine.

30 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Trypophobia

Trypophobia

Trypophobia
Asiago Garlic Alfredo ensconced by a agglutination of Rigatoni
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Does this pasta make you uneasy? If so, and it's not just because you don't like garlic, you may have Typophobia, a fear of irregularly-patterned holes. Why Olive Garden decided to include such an obviously triggering dish in their menu is anyone's guess, but I think a tastefully done Tumblr campaign against them might be just the wake-up call they need to be more sensitive to the differently abled.

Pictured here is Trypophobia - eurgh.

Day Eighteen - Rosella

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Demeanor: Pecorino-like: Gentle, sheepish
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I actually like [other restaurant who's name shall not be reprinted in MY blog] more." ((I don't know if she provided a reason; I stopped listening immediately))
Proof of parents' nerd cred: Is heir to the throne of Daventry
Snapshot:

"I hate mushrooms." she says, poking through her salad.

"I...don't think there's any mushrooms in that." I reply, taken aback.

"I know. I just hate them so much."

--

Rosella is no stranger to pasta craftsmanship - a professional chef in a competing noodle dispensary, she's probably served up more food than even I have eaten. In addition to your standard trifecta of nerd interests - video games, cosplay, anime - she also studies both French and Japanese, and hopes to one day be a professional translator. Neat!

Also, I'd like to give a shoutout to the manager of the city of Orange's Olive Garden. Rosella left her box of leftovers on the table, and it was long gone by the time I went to retrieve it. When the manager saw me sobbing on the floor, wailing to the sky, cursing the names of the uncaring gods, etc, she offered me a replacement bowl free of charge. That's service!!

31 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Raviocean

Raviocean

Raviocean
Mezzaluna Ravioli sauced with Asiago Garlic Alfredo
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Please follow this guided meditation...
Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. You are floating above an endless sea of alfredo sauce. It is warm, it is inviting. Ravioli peeks up here and there, but as far as you can see is nothing but alfredo. You slowly begin to descend into this infinite pool. The tip of your nose lightly kisses the surface of the sauce, and you continue to sink. You feel the sauce touch, and soon cover, your face, your chest, your legs. Soon you are entirely submerged. You are never going to escape. You do not wish to. This is where you belong. This is home.

Pictured here is Raviocean - I guess what I'm trying to get at here is that they went a little heavy on the sauce.

Day Seventeen - Erin

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Demeanor -- Mascarpone-like: disconcertingly smooth
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I really love it. I know people say it's not real Italian, but I don't care."
Current relationship status: In a marriage that is so strong she found it depressingly easy to reject even my flirtatious advances
Snapshot:

((it took me several minutes to realize that what I thought was a bizarre game of coquettish footsie was actually me accidentally brushing against the table leg, then repeatedly nudging it and getting no response back))

--

Erin is an intelligent woman with a broad base of knowledge and experiences, ranging from cancer antigen research to seeing a man in the ER she worked in who had shot himself in the abdomen. *Pro tip for those of you who would like to go on dates: this isn't the best topic to bring up while eating heavily sauced pasta*.

Afterwards, she took me to an arcade and wouldn't even try to win me a stuffed cat pillow, even though I was staring at it with the biggest, saddest eyes ever.

32 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
How Much More Real Italian Can You Get?!

How Much More Real Italian Can You Get?!

How Much More Real Italian Can You Get?!
Tri Colored Vegetable Penne flawlessly covered in Pesto Alfredo
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I mean, look at this thing! It's basically an Italian flag on a plate! (DISCLAIMER: I am an American, and thus have never actually seen an Italian flag).

AND It was served to me by a guy with dark hair who didn't speak great English and who probably resented me at least a little! Mama mia, people, if this isn't Italy, I don't want to know what is.

Pictured here is How Much More Real Italian Can You Get?!, and I mean, c'monnnnn!

Day Sixteen - Lauren

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Demeanor -- Mozzarella-like: soft, sweet
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I come here with my parents all the time. They find something they like and stick with it, and I just go along."
Worst first date, other than this one: Ended with her hand forcibly placed upon a trench-coat-wearing man's denim-clad herpetic bulge
Snapshot:

"Yeah, I usually go for nerds, but you're, like, an actual nerd." ((I'm pretty sure this was a compliment))

--

A hair stylist with a heart of gold, Lauren offered me a number of tips on maintaining good bounce, lift, and natural shine that, for all I know, she was secretly reading off the back of a bottle of dog shampoo. Still, I ended up buying like fifty bucks worth of gel that she happened to have brought with her. Look forward to a whole new Vino in the next selfie!

33 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Ariel's Feast

Ariel's Feast

Ariel's Feast
Rigatoni gently smeared with Asiago Garlic Alfredo, replete with Shrimp Fritta
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Look at this meal, treasures untold
How many fritta can one pasta hold?
Looking around here you'd think -
Sure, she's got everything

Pictured here is Ariel's Feast, and you're just deluding yourself if you think she, as queen of the sea, didn't ritualistically eat her subjects from time to time.

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