What is this?

Hoplite

Hoplite
Five Cheese Marinara placed upon a fistful of Fettuccine
Comments

A white shield, emblazoned with a fiery orange sun. The points of a four-pronged triden gleam in the light, ready to strike. Ready your dinner and eat hearty!

Day Five - Crystal

Comments

Greatest Strength -- Crafting D&D characters that have a tragic backstory reminiscent of a Game of Thrones antihero, but different enough to not be sued by George R.R. Martin (yet)
Weakest Weakness -- Brought shame upon our table when she misheard the options of 'soup or salad' as "Super Salad" and tried to order it
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I love the breadsticks. I was just talking about them with my Uber driver, we bonded over it."
Snapshot: Feeling a little constricted by my creative challenge format, I asked Crystal if she had any other creative talents she could comfortably display in a booth in an Olive Garden. She suggested music, tempting me with this: "My singing is like...really, really, really, really shitty Amy Winehouse."

"Ah..." I replied. "Well... for now, what's your second-favorite cartoon?"
Creative Challenge -- "Draw Mojo Jojo from memory"

Result:

(Transcript)
Bootleg
Mojo jojo

A HAND

--

Equally at home in an obscure anime cosplay or sharpening some corporate tool in her work as a consultant, Crystal is the sort of renaissance millenial that is single-handedly ruining our country, according to Parade magazine. She's the rare kind of person who is considerate in a way that feels genuine without being obsequious. Anyone can read a guy's pasta blog (though many, for some reason, do not), but few actually go to the lengths that Crystal did in her helpful and positive feedback.

Vino's Vegan Victual:
5/50

Crystal's Concoction:
Gravity Well

45 dates to go! Thanks for dining with me, Crystal! I hope you were able to find your way home!

5/50

5/50
Spaghetti delightfully glazed with Marinara
Comments

This pasta review is currently under construction. Sorry for the delay, I promise it will be worth the wait.

Gravity Well

Gravity Well
Gluten Free Rotini bursting with Chicken Fritta, gingerly smothered in Alfredo
Comments

A trick of perspective causes the eye to "sink into" this pasta, which, reportedly, "tastes just like macaroni and cheese".

Day Four - Sonal

Comments

Greatest Strength -- Making uncultured midwesterners uncomfortable by forcing them to guess how her name is pronounced (pro tip: SOH-null)
Weakest Weakness -- Unpriviliged upbringing (ie, not in America) gives her the mistaken belief that this is not the greatest country in the world. Tragic...
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "It's not very good. It's very heavy. And expensive. And not a good place for - " (I cut her off here and changed the subject)
Snapshot: In order to establish dominance, Sonal asks me how many tinder matches I have. When I tell her, she kind of smirks and then gives me her phone, revealing over 60 times as many matches as what I thought was a respectable count.

Okay, she's attractive, I get it. What kills me is that she gets all these guys and doesn't even have a pasta blog. What am I even doing, here?
Creative Challenge -- "Draw a chicken, and two chicks."

Result:

(Transcript)
A Chicken & Two Chicks!
Sonal

--

Sonal is a highly educated (3 degrees!!) woman with a dry sense of humor. I'm not entirely sure about those credentials, though -- she told me that they were two masters' degrees and a bachelor's in psychology, with a minor in art. But after finishing the creative challenge (above) she looked at it, looked at me, and said, "Well. I more meant that I appreciate art."

Vino's Vegan Victual:
4/50

Sonal's Supper:
A Chicken & Two Chicks!

46 dates to go! Thank you for dining with me, Sonal! You get +1 point!

4/50

4/50
Marinara hidden in a ball the size of a chihuahua's head of Spaghetti
Comments

This pasta review is currently under construction. Sorry for the delay, I promise it will be worth the wait.

A Chicken & Two Chicks!

A Chicken & Two Chicks!
Creamy Mushroom hidden in a pile of Cavatappi, merged with Grilled Chicken
Comments

Let's not forget that the meat on our plates was once the living tissue of a sentient being that did not want to die. Tasty though they may be, chickens live lives of near-constant suffering and then are killed so we can have something chewy to go with our pasta.

So, y'know, take home the leftovers, at least.

Day Three - Jessica

Comments

Greatest Strength -- Owns three games for the Nintendo Switch, which accounts for 150% of the system's playable library.
Weakest Weakness -- Overly agreeable nature leads to accepting propositions for mundane first dates (see below)
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I think this is the first time I've been here since college."
Snapshot -- Ever the gentleman, I offered Jessica a rare glimpse into the brief non-pasta portion of my day-to-day after dinner.
"Do you want to help me buy garbage bags at Albertsons? I'm all out. This isn't code for anything. I'm literally going to Albertsons and buying garbage bags, then I'm going home."
Amazingly, she accepted, and was an insightful companion for this task. She noted the relative cost-per-bag of various brands, and weighed the value of certain features. Vanilla fragrance, puncture resistance, that sort of thing. In the end, I walked out with the optimal garbage bags, thanks to her procurement skills.
Creative Challenge -- "Compose a haiku that contains the word "salad".

Result:

(Transcript)
Vino* orders salad
It looks to be quite tasty
Why did I choose soup?

(*Transcriptor's note: Jessica chose to use my christian name in this poem, which I do not recognize from the dates of 9/25 to 11/19. I have replaced it here, but I assure you the meter and syllable count remain unchanged from her original poem)
--

Jessica is a procurement specialist for a company that manufactures computer motherboards and similar technowizardry things. She gave me an insider tip that soon 7-11's may feature digital touchscreen displays for their famous Slurpee machines. Personally, I cannot think of an interface less suited to the human hand than a machine that blorps out a thick, sticky sludge directly onto the user. But I'm no computer jock, and I'm certainly no procurement specialist, so I'll leave it to the professionals.

She also agreed to a brief second meeting when I realized that we forgot to get a selfie. Rookie mistake on my part. I been out the game too long.

47 dates to go!

Vino's Vegan Victual:
3/50

Jessica's Jam:
The Mixup

Thank you for dining with me, Jessica! You're rad.

3/50

3/50
Marinara balanced with Spaghetti
Comments

This pasta review is currently under construction. Sorry for the delay, I promise it will be worth the wait.

The Mixup

The Mixup
Rigatoni fused with Creamy Mushroom, covered in Chicken Fritta
Comments

When it comes to sauce distribution, sometimes the chef loves you, and sometimes you have to forge your own path. In this case, it is clear that Jessica was forced into the latter option; some of these rigatoni are bone-dry, and others have entered into an unnatural state that is more sauce than pasta.

Be wary when ordering this dish - you never know what's in the next forkful.

Day Two - Emily

Comments

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.

2/50

2/50
Spaghetti sauced with Marinara
Comments

This pasta review is currently under construction. Sorry for the delay, I promise it will be worth the wait.

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