Saturday, September 15, 2007

Top Chef - Olive Garden

Hey y'all! I am still alive... just very busy! We started school back and all is going very well~Praise the Lord. :) It's amazing how long it can take you to get back into your groove, though. We made some pretty big changes this year, so while I won't bore you with the details, suffice it to say, our previous schedule flew the coop in a big way.
That first week was t-o-u-g-h with trying to get us a workable thing going! BUT, by George, I think we have it now.
Last night Mark and I went out on a rare, spur-of-the-moment "date". It was completely wonderful and very much needed. Just to show you how huge our gooberness is, I will tell you that we adore shows like Iron Chef and Hell's Kitchen and we love us some Top Chef, too. You know, reality meets food...does it get any better? No.
So, we are always sitting on our respective couches drooling and wishing that we could be the ones tasting that super yummy food that is up for judgement on these shows while we knaw on our dry, slightly stale pretzels. How does one go about getting a cushy job like that anyway? Well, last night we decided to take matters into our own hands. Watch out Olive Garden.
We sat down to dinner and instantly transformed into Padma (if only) and Tom (who is super-cute in a bald, knows-how-to-cook-some-serious-grub sort of way). Anyway, here is our report: First strike was our waitress. She gets a big fat F. Right after we were seated, she looked at us, and then proceeded to carry on a conversation with her friends about football for a full 10 minutes before she came to get our drink orders, which she turned around and messed up. She messed up THE DRINKS! How hard is that?! Padma almost spazzed at that point, but maintained composure. (It was 8:00 p.m. and I was starving, so I was a little edgy, what can I say?).
Strike 2 was the gloppy appetizer (that is normally very good) called Smoked Fonduta something or other. Anyway, it's supposed to be this smooth cheese dip served with fresh tomatoes and basil on top with a side of toasted baguette. Well, for us it was none of the above. I wish I would have taken a picture, but Tom simply couldn't be photographed with such atrocities. It wasn't even melted completely and we had, like, 5 or 6 little dices of tomato on top with nary a basil leaf in sight. The bread wasn't even toasted and there flat-out wasn't enough of it (the bread, I mean...certainly not the fonduta). The real Tom and Padma would have deemed this almost inedible, but hey, we are Mark and Gayle, so unless there is something funky growing on it, we'll wolf it down anyway.
The restaurant redeemed itself nicely with Tom's entree: Steak Gorgonzola with Alfredo. The beef was beautifully prepared and had a flavor that was out of this world. It was so tender and juicy, that it practically melted in your mouth. It had spinach tossed in with the pasta which added a nice flavor along with color that made the presentation visually appealing. I would have wanted his dish, but I couldn't get past the funky gorgonzola, which, in my world, tastes distinctively like feet. Not that I go around tasting feet, but if I did, that is what they would taste like, for sure. He loved it, though, and for that, it gets a nice ~thumbs up~
My entree was Ravioli di Portabello, which is, pretty simply, ravioli stuffed with chopped portabello mushrooms covered in an insanely yummy tomato alfredo sauce. They put fresh diced tomato and basil along with chopped sun-dried tomato on top of that to make a mouth-watering dish with a great balance of flavor. This dish, too, gets a hearty ~thumbs up~.
Overall, our experience was a good one, and we would certainly go back again despite that shotty service and the lame appetizer...but, our standards wouldn't be above McDonald's if it means we can get away for a few hours.
After we left, we morphed back into our own flabby selves and drove to Starbucks for a decaf toffee nut latte with whip, and then on to Walmart for a few odds and ends. (Can we ever escape that place?!) It was a great date. ~sigh~
Tonight, we are heading to another competition: Iron Chef Boy Scouts! joke! Ty's Troop hosts a cooking competition every year where the scouts cook and the families judge. I am completely thrilled about this, especially because I don't have to cook for the second night in a row. Good times.
Have a great day to catch up with all of you....


Kathleen aka Coffee Mom said...

Mmmmm, I love ravioli di portobello. I haven't been to Olive Garden for a while, guess I'll have to go soon to get my fix. I'm definitely with you on the gorgonzola cheese. Yuck.

javamamma said...

Olive Garden used to be my fav...until I discovered Macaroni Grill. Glad your entrees redeemed your food experience.

I gotta go with your hubby with the gorgonzola though - yum!

KarenW said...

Glad you had a good night even if all wasn't perfect. Gabe was in Cub Scouts. He won first place one year in a father-son cake decorating contest.

nsremom said...

I'm a Top Chef junkie! wahoo....a kindred spirit. :)

and padme annoys me. Not sure why...tall, gorgeous and well spoken....what could it be. :)

and Tom would most CERTAINLY sent back the foundue stuff and growled about it. (love that guy...can't stand Chef Bourdain though, he's evil, huh?)

So, enough deep talk. Have a great week 2.

The Bullocks said...

I love OG! Can't wait for them to open in or town!
SOunds like a fun date!!!:-)

The Bullocks said...

I mean OUR!

penny1010 said...

Yum!!! I always get the portobello ravioli! It's my favorite! And, gorgonzola cheese is awesome! How can you think it tastes like feet??? Go to allrecipes and type in Missie's candied walnut gorgonzola salad. It's the best salad I've had in awhile!!
Anyway, loved reading your post. It made me laugh and I love watching iron chef and throwdown with Bobby Flay.

ConservaChick said...

I love cooking shows too! I always end up in the kitchen, whipping up something "semi" gourmet, so I have to "watch with caution" to avoid expanding waistlines.
I have a love hate relationship with resturants. It kills me to pay $40 + for something I can make at home, but if it's got unique, hard to make food, it's worth every penny! ~Karlie

wendy's world said...

Oh my gosh!!! You are my long lost sister. I absolutely LOVE the food network shows. Top Chef is my new favorite (although half the time I have no idea what they are cooking). I also LOVE Ace of Cakes,
and Throwdown with Bobby Flay! This
post was hilarious. I can just see ya'll playing judges...LOL!

Heidi said...

Gayle~ I gave you an award. Check out my blog to find out more.....

P.S. Didn't the new topper work for your blog?

Irritable Mother said...

Mmmmmm, I love going to Olive Garden. It really bummed me out when they stopped carrying the chocolate covered cheesecake, though.
Yeah, if I can get a night out with my hubby - ALONE - just about anything a step above McDonald's is OK with me. (But I do like McD's salads - I think it's called Oriental Salad...)

Halfmoon Girl said...

gosh, now I am HUNGRY! I could totally eat a really yummy dinner right now. I want it delivered though, since I am still damp and smelly from soccer practice. (it was raining, I don't sweat THAT much!)

How was the boy scout competition?

Amber said...

I'm so glad you had a good time! And that Starbucks toffee drink sounds YUMMY! I'm also happy everything is going good for school! We are nearing the end of week 3....the funny thing is I posted our schedule and titled it "By Curious George I think I've got it"

0:) Amber