Day Forty-Five: Alycia

Comments

Demeanor -- Cabernet-like: popular, bold
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "Honestly, it's like my second family. I love it here. I dream about this job."
Most unexpected possession -- A homemade positive-energy voodoo doll
Snapshot --

"So," I ask, "were the other employees jealous when you told them you were going to go out with me?"

"They said not to do it. They think you're a serial killer."

I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't that. "Why?!"

"You're here every day, you bring a new woman every time, and they never come back. Where do they go?!"

--

I've never met anyone who exemplifies the 90's-era slogan of Olive Garden ("When you're here, you're family") quite like Alycia. Extraordinarily friendly, upbeat, and charming, she's a natural-born hostess who improved every one of the nights I saw her. I was thrilled when she accepted my invitation to be one of my final Olive Garden dates.

Most of my dates last about an hour, sometimes an hour and a half if refills are ordered. Dinner with Alycia was two and a half hours long - she's so easy to talk to that one completely loses track of time. I'm sure that she'll go on to have a very happy and fulfilling life!

4 more dates to go.

(she's doing "air bass")

Bonus - Staff Spotlight!

I also had to ask for a selfie with a few other treasured members of the Santa Ana mall Olive Garden's staff - our server, Lindsey, and our host, Bryan. They, along with Alycia, all deserve recognition for their contributions to Olive Garden's reputation. Whatever these folks are paid, it's not enough!

Today's pasta was
How Do I Turn That Off?

How Do I Turn That Off?

How Do I Turn That Off?
Rigatoni smeared with Asiago Garlic Alfredo, bursting with Meatballs
Comments

It took me a month to learn that a harsh flash doesn't cast food in the best light (heh), and another 10 months to learn how to turn it off on my camera.

Day Forty-Four (1): Missy

Comments

Demeanor -- Muscat-like: Acerbic, astringent
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "Um...indifferent? Do you ask everyone that?"
Tough crowd -- laughed way harder at the fact that I had a second Olive Garden date lined up immediately after hers than she did at any of my jokes
Snapshot --

"Totoro is overrated. I really prefer Princess Mononoke"
-Missy, sealing herself away in my Friendzone™ forever

--

Missy does "pretty much everything" in her employ at a local movie theater, even making drinks! I don't know what kind of movie theater serves cocktails, but it sounds like a pretty chill place. I'd recommend it, if I had thought to ask her the name.

Sassy and no-nonsense, Missy does not suffer fools gladly and has no reservations about pointing out hypocrisy where she sees it. This made dining with her a uniquely rewarding experience!

5 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Volume One

Volume One

Volume One
Chicken Fritta sheltered within a hill of Rigatoni, delightfully mixed with Asiago Garlic Alfredo
Comments

The chef dropped this dish off with the following note attached.

Day Forty-Four (2): Meagan

Comments

Demeanor -- Zinfandel-like: dry, light-bodied
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I've only been here once before, and it was...not the best experience. It felt like they just put sauce on top of pasta. It wasn't really a cohesive meal."
Could she even begin to explain how stressful nursing school is? -- No
Snapshot --

I ask Meagan if she's interested in having kids, because I find that the best time to have that particular conversation with a loved one is within 3 minutes of meeting them.

"Ugh...um...don't put this in the blog, but...children are like small, psychotic, drunk adults."

"Wow. I'd really like to put that in the blog."

"Okay. Man. All my friends are going to know it's me who said that."

--

Meagan is a nursing student worried that she may already be becoming jaded about the profession, despite having not yet worked a full day as an RN (Real Nurse) or NP (Nurse-Plus). That sounds like a lot to have on one's plate, so I'm particularly grateful for her coming all the way to my OG to fill a less metaphysical plate.

5 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Volume Two

Volume Two

Volume Two
Asiago Garlic Alfredo tucked away inside a bunch of Tri Colored Vegetable Penne, enhanced with a veritable bevy of Shrimp Fritta
Comments

When I was prepared, I went on what the menu descriptions referred to as a furious frenzy of feeding.

Day Forty-Three: Shanina

Comments

Demeanor -- Riesling-like: Honey-sweet
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "Growing up in a small town, this was the fanciest place we could go. It's way better than Applebee's. I always felt like they just microwaved their food."
Favorite subreddits -- /r/askwomen and /r/pcmasterrace ("despite the ayyy lmao")
Snapshot --

Back in middle school, Shanina was a Pretty Big Deal in free-to-play MMOs like Maplestory and, especially, Mabinogi.

"I spent a lot of my mom's money on that game, buying all the coolest gear. I was the most popular player on the server. Then I got banned."

I can tell this is a painful memory for her, so I don't ask her to relive the trauma.

--

With an infectious laugh and refreshingly positive outlook, Shanina was a delightful dining companion. She's studying to be a civil engineer. If you were wondering: yes, she has played Sim City. No, you are not the first person to ask.

6 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
The PonyGirl Special

The PonyGirl Special

The PonyGirl Special
Gluten Free Rotini hybridized with Chicken Pomodoro, blended with Italian Sausage
Comments

Last year I allowed comments on my blog for both the daily entries and all ~200 pastas I photographed and reviewed.

Day Forty-Two: Christine

Comments

Demeanor -- Sage-like: Wise, earthy
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "It's..." ((searches for the right word)) "...okay."
Reaction to my puns -- A polite, tight smile.
Snapshot --

It's way too dark outside to get a quality selfie, and I'm coming to the realization we'll have to take it inside the restaurant. I take a deep breath and ask Christine if she's okay with embarrassing herself.

"You're asking me that now?"

--

Christine is a self-described "semi-practicing" Muslim, and an admissions agent for a study abroad program at a local college. They offer a variety of destinations based off your field of study, which is pretty cool. My major would've gotten me to some place that is not the Culinary Institute of Tuscany , so I changed the subject immediately.

Thanks to Christine for being flexible with her schedule!

7 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
The Value of Pre-Mixing

The Value of Pre-Mixing

The Value of Pre-Mixing
Chicken Pomodoro combined with Shrimp Fritta, perfectly enveloped by a hill of Gluten Free Rotini
Comments

Usually, Olive Garden's preparation for their Neverending Pasta Bowl dishes is a simple exercise in layering:

Day Forty-One: Laura

Comments

Demeanor -- Garlic Powder-like: Strong, independent, don't need no man
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "When I was a little girl, I'd beg my parents to take me to Olive Garden. Eight years later, I was a server! Really living the dream."
Her vote for 'worst part about the Never Ending Pasta Bowl promotion' -- People like me
Snapshot --

"Oh my god, I'm so happy to have found someone who likes Olive Garden as much as I do." Laura beams. My mouth is full of food, so I just nod vigorously, sauce dripping from my chin.

She reflects for a bit.

"Maybe more."

--

Laura has some kind of nonprofit organization office job, but used to be server at the Olive Garden, which is, of course, where all my questions were directed. She let me in on countless bits of OG trivia and lore. For example: the company was originally founded in 1930 as "Ollie's Garden" by Oliver Capone as a quasi-legal speakeasy. Customers ordered small bowls of cheap pasta that were 'sauced' with homemade bathtub moonshine! When Prohibition ended, Ollie poured the moonshine into bottles, relabeled them as "Sutter Home Wine", and kept the pasta. People loved it, and Italian-style eating has never been the same.

Oh, right, Laura. She's more than just an OG historian - she also plays a mean Mario Kart. And I mean that literally. She will not hesitate to yell very hurtful things if you dare to use a blue shell.

8 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Delicious!

Delicious!

Delicious!
Rigatoni uniquely enhanced with a veritable bevy of Chicken Meatballs, skillfully covered in Pesto Alfredo
Comments

It really is! I love this sauce so much.

Pasta Combination Selector