Friday, September 12, 2008

When you're here, you're family.

I was still in a carbohydrate induced stupor when Bill woke me up this morning to make coffee. "Hey, babe," he whispered. "Do you mind getting up? I could use a little hospitaliano."

He was referring, of course, to our big night out at the The Olive Garden.

I know that type of night out might sound typical, like something that just happens to people when they have kids, but I can assure you, for us, it's not. We didn't just decide last minute to pile into the mini van and head to the nearest place with a kids menu (not that we have a mini van). Noooo. This was a completely pre-meditated, eagerly awaited culinary experience.

Two days ago, Bill's office had food brought in for a lunch meeting and I think you can guess where they ordered from. He called (several times) to brag about the amazing discovery that happened when he "accidentally" dripped alfredo sauce on his salad. It was enough to make me want to go back to work full time just for the possibility of a lunch meeting like that.

I know what you're thinking, "Olive Garden? Really?" Yes. Really! I don't care if it's like Italian fast food, it tastes damn good. Go ahead, dip a breadstick in that alfredo sauce and just try to tell me you don't like it.

I like it so much I actually worked there before. OK, it wasn't because I liked it. It was because I really wanted to wait tables and it was the only restaurant in town that would hire me without previous experience. As it turns out, previous experience may not have been such a bad thing to have had. If I had waited tables before I would have known that I had absolutely no business waiting tables.

I'm not exactly "friendly" or what you would call a "people person" so making small talk with strangers for money was not really a good fit. I regularly begged Bill or my sister to sit in my section for my entire shift so I had one less table to worry about.

I'm also a complete klutz so carrying around hot plates of food over my head was a joke (I never got the tray off my shoulder). I tripped up the stairs with a full tray of dinners not once, not twice but three times before they stopped seating me upstairs.

I only worked there a few months but, in that time, we ate like kings. We were in that gluttonous stage of dating at the very beginning where all you want to do is eat and drink and BE together. Let me tell you, that stage and alfredo sauce went really well together.

Nowadays, Olive Garden is as distant a memory as that first stage of dating. I can't even remember the last time we ate there. Maybe when I was pregnant? Yeah, that's it. I was having an unstoppable craving for chicken alredo pizza that could only be satisfied by Olive Garden and called Bill on his way home from work to beg him to go get it for me. When he got home an hour and a half later, the pizza was cold and my craving had passed. Cravings and travel time do not mix.

We love where we live but it's not exactly convenient for things like Italian fast food. To dine at a themed chain restaurant we must take a pilgrimage to the land of strip malls and amenities where you can eat dinner and go shopping without ever leaving the parking lot.

For Reno kids like us, it's almost like going home again.

Ours was a fantastic voyage. We got a cozy little table in a corner where Liam could play on the floor without disturbing anyone and we could eat breadsticks with abandon because, really, who knows when we'll be back again. By the time our actual meals arrived, we were full of bread and ready to go home. We packed up our dinner, ordered dessert to go and walked hand-in-hand to Toys R Us where Liam ran around in amazement and we waddled after him nibbling on complimentary chocolate mints.

Quarter tank of gas aside, it was a truly perfect evening. And tonight we get to experience it all over again from the comfort of our own home. Hospitaliano indeed!


Sandra Winfrey said...

Sounds lovely. I must admit that is one my favorite restaurants. Haven't been there in ages ... but been meaning to. I tend to always have coupons!

LClaire said...

I know you're probably already aware of this, but Olive Garden in Kedra's favorite restaurant :)