Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I'm Back + Olive Garden's Lobster Ravioli

Vacation's over, and I'm back in the culinary saddle.  While I was away, I partook of my share of holiday treats.  Being the holidays though, I didn't photograph my meals or make notes as I feasted and spent time with family.

One Chinese restaurant is grateful, even if they don't realize it, that I wasn't "on duty" when I ate there.  Their  "spicy" Orange Beef was bland, and when I ate my Vietnamese Roll I found the Lime dipping sauce to be cloyingly sweet, with no citrus flavor.

Nevertheless, I did come across one note worthy dish while I was away.  Olive Garden has brought back their Lobster Ravioli for $18.99.  The menu describes the dish as (Ravioli filled with North American lobster and cheese, topped with a lobster Alfredo sauce, sauteed jumbo shrimp, basil and sun-dried tomatoes).

The "Alfredo sauce" was flavorful, tasting of cheese, garlic, and seafood broth.  Plus, I had six fairly good sized shrimp accompany approximately 20 ravioli.  The flavors were there.  Honestly though, they were cheese ravioli with lobster, since each pasta pillow was filled with a savory cheese blend and a few small pieces of lobster.

Olive Garden's Lobster Ravioli is tasty and filling.  Yet, it falls short of delivering the big chunks of lobster diners might expect.  Therefore, while I like it, I can only give Olive Garden's Lobster Ravioli 7 out of 10 stars.

Side Note:
You'll notice I put the term Alfredo sauce in quotes above.  I did so because a portion of food society claims there's no such thing as Alfredo sauce.

Having grown up in suburban America, I've become accustomed to a savory cream sauce served over pasta.   It's the version Olive Garden, and most other Italian/American eateries base their recipes on.
Americanized Alfredo Sauce:

1/4 pound (1/2 cup) sweet butter, melted
1 cup heavy cream, warmed
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Mix all ingredients. Pour over 4 servings of warm noodles (I use angel hair). Serve immediately.
However, cuisine aficionados, such as Lynne Rossetto Kasper maintain Pasta Alfredo is a way of preparing a pasta dressing, rather than a sauce, named for the Restaurant Alfredo in Rome.
Rome Style Pasta Alfredo

1 lb pasta,
1 stick (4 oz) butter,
1.5-2 cups Parmigiano Reggiano,
1 cup heavy cream,
1 clove of garlic,
salt & pepper to taste

Melt the butter in the pan with salt and pepper. Add the garlic to the butter when melting but don't brown it. Add the freshly-cooked hot pasta to the butter and mix it together over low heat.  Then add cream in to the pasta and let the cream and butter will be absorbed by the pasta as you continue to toss the pasta.  Finally sprinkle on grated Parmesan cheese and keep tossing until the cheese joins with the coating on the noodles.  Season once more with salt and pepper if necessary end serve.
Truthfully, I can't grasp the difference between a dressing and a sauce.  One could argue a dressing's cooked with the pasta while a sauce is poured over the pasta.  Yet, I've known spaghetti to be cooked with its sauce.

While I don't see the value in making the distinction between a dressing and a sauce, and I think Alfredo sauce does exist, if only because the populace has agreed it does, I will concede the idea that our version probably pales to its Roman counterpart.

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