Monday, May 23, 2011

Manhattan has an Olive Garden?

Yes, in addition to the (dozens? hundreds? millions??) of delicious, authentic Italian restaurants at varying price points throughout the island of Manhattan, it has recently come to my attention that there are also at least two Olive Gardens here. And people, apparently eat there.

Not that there's anything wrong with the Olive Garden! I went to one once in Augusta, Maine and enjoyed the salad a great deal more than I expected to, and of course whatever pasta + pound of cheese combo I ordered.

However, still shocking that when one can go here or here, one would choose to meander to the Olive Garden, which is conveniently located in every other city in the United States.

How did I find this out?

The Olive Garden, which I have just spent the last several paragraphs degrading, generously donated pasta, salad and breadsticks for 50 people to the American Cancer Society for our DetermiNation pasta dinner on Friday night. So....thanks!

I went to go pick up the food prior to the dinner with 2 fellow volunteers and while waiting for our order, perused the menu. In New York City, chain restaurants are required to post calorie counts on their menus. Let's just say that the calorie counts of some of our favorite Italian-American classics are maybe not what we would hope they would be. A dish that was 800 calories started to look "low-cal" to me.

My big question upon leaving the restaurant can you look at this menu, see a 1400-calorie alfredo dish and think "yup. That's the one. I'm going to order that." I mean, doesn't that strike you as sort of insane? But people obviously do order these dishes, even here in NYC where they are fully aware of the damage it's doing to their waistline.

Makes me sort of feel like shaking them and saying, stop being an idiot, don't eat that! It's not rocket science.

Anyway, the spaghetti and marinara sauce we enjoyed was not one of the grosser offenders and we did very much appreciate the Olive Garden's generosity. Now if only we can get A Voce to cater next year's dinner, then we'll really be set.

Even more enjoyable than the food was the venue - we were able to hold our dinner at the Hope Lodge, which has recently been re-done and looks really wonderful. Such a special place for patients receiving treatment in the city and staying at the Lodge.

The sweet Lindsay spoke at our dinner, giving us athletes a heartfelt reminder of why we run. Check out her words on the American Cancer Society's blog here. Her speech really hit home because we all have an inspiration when we run, and for many of us on the DetermiNation team, it's a loved one we've seen suffer from cancer. Thinking of them, their perserverance and strength, keep us moving through those moments when we feel like we don't have any juice left. If they can fight cancer, we can take another step.

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