Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Orlando Elite Yelp Event- Olive Garden Test Kitchen

A few weeks ago, I was able to go to a Yelp event at the Olive Garden Test Kitchen as the Darden headquarters.  And it was just as neat as I'd hoped it would be!

When we first arrived, we were treated to some Prosecco.  Yum!

When we sat down, we saw the menu of what we'd be trying and spaces for our comments (I found out that I'm not good at writing comments!)

First up was some appetizers.  Clockwise from top-left: Crispy Risotto Bites, Parmesan Olive Fritta, Polenta Shrimp alla Greca, and Spicy Calabrian Wings.  I really enjoyed the Crispy Risotto Bites (they'd be great with alfredo sauce) and the polenta with the shrimp was amazing.  I'm not a fan of olives so didn't much like the Parmesan Olive Fritta and the wings were waaaay too spicy for me.  But I'm a wimp!

Then we got to head into the kitchen.  I felt like we were on Top Chef!

 Some of us got to help make flatbreads.

 It was really yummy!

Then we headed back out for one of my favorite parts of every Olive Garden meal...salad and breadsticks! I LOVED the chunks of cheese in this Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad Topper.

Next up was the Large Paccheri with Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato, Bucatini with Spicy Diavolo and Shrimp, and Smashed Chicken Meatball Sandwich.  The Pacherri was really good.  I don't like tomatoes (I know, no red sauce either!) but the sun-dried tomatoes wasn't a strong flavor in it.  The shrimp was too spicy for me.  And the chicken meatball sandwich was one of my tops for the night (although I'd order it without the sauce.)

By now I was really full.  But there was still more!: Chicken Primavera with Giant Fusilli, Pappardelle Pescatore, and Chicken Abruzzi (I might have gotten the two chicken dishes mixed up...but they were both good).  The winner of the night for me was the Papardelle Pescatore.  I LOVED all the types of seafood in this dish.  Just yum!

We were all stuffed and Olive Garden knew that but still taking care of us, had boxed dessert for us.  I enjoyed this immensely the next night, along with the leftovers that they let us take home!!

And of course, we had some fabulous swag...Yelp playing cards, an I love pasta tshirt and a gift card to Olive Garden!  It was such a fun night!

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