Monday, August 2, 2010

The Gift of Food

Today I'm joining the Follow Us Monday Morning crowd and answering the question of the week: "What is the best blog giveaway you have won, and why?"

Well, that's very easy to answer -- I've only won one giveaway! But it was a great one -- read on ....

"There's nothing like the gift of food to bring people together. And gathering friends and family around mouthwatering favorites ... is what Applebee's does best."

And that it did on Saturday night, when Jeremy and Tom and I ate there with the gift card that I'd won last weekend from Karen of I Made It Through the Rain. Lots of laughter, LOTS of food ... a grand time was had by all!

Jeremy always orders a Reuben if he sees one on a menu, and he has long bemoaned the fact that Applebee's never offered one. Or, at least, they had never offered one until Saturday night, when Jeremy gleefully announced that this was what he was ordering.

It was a beautiful thing when it was presented -- generous portions of corned beef, and toothpicks required to hold everything together. Some places will skimp on the meat and load up on the inexpensive sauerkraut, but not Applebee's! True to their m.o. of subscribing to two different celeb-u-chefs' mottoes -- Emeril Lagasse's "Kick it up a notch" and Nigella Lawson's "Never knowingly undercatered" (one of my own personal favorite slogans, I might add) -- the plate was fillled with Jeremy's very favorite foods.

As I watched him eat, he started with the pickles and then moved on to the fries. "How come you're not eating the sandwich?" "Rule #1 of eating a Reuben -- eat the Reuben last; it is the staple of the meal." Okaaaaay. "But what if you're not hungry after eating all those fries and pickles???" I know -- 19-year-old male not hungry, ever?!?!? Stupid, stupid question. Jeremy was in his glory, with his beloved Reuben, crispy fries, and an opportunity to feel superior to his mom. Does it get any better than that???

Tom and I, as per usual (especially in my case, with my noted menu-induced brain paralysis), took a considerable amount of time trying to decide what to eat. Split something? If so, split what? Appetizer? Variety plate? Salad? Jeremy tried to persuade me to get barbecued pork sliders, and he ranted (as is his habit) about my always ordering salads (which I don't, though I often do); he tried to forbid me from doing so. Complicating all of this, Tom didn't want the chicken sandwich with portobellos, as that would have been too much mushroom. He didn't want pineapple with his chicken, thus ruling out one of the salads that Jeremy didn't want to see me eating anyway.

So I let Tom choose 2 options that I would split with him because I, of course, will eat virtually anything -- no sushi, no tofu, preferably no green peppers, but almost anything else is happily devoured. So I have a difficult time ordering because everything looks good; it would be easier if I liked only 1 or 2 options and could simply go with "the usual."

Tom chose a plain burger -- who knew they had them on the menu??? -- rather than the ones with cheese and bacon and Ranch dressing and all the other stuff poured on top; but we made sure we still got the lettuce, tomato and onion which are crucial items. And he chose the Santa Fe Chicken Salad: "Grilled marinated chicken breast on a bed of greens with homemade pico de gallo and Mexi-ranch dressing. Crunchy tortilla strips, cheese, guacamole and sour cream too!" Excellent choices, Mon Amour!

The burger was very good, as one would expect from a place like Applebee's which serves so very many of them. Huge, juicy, served with all the fixin's and with crispy fries ... sigh. Tom conscientiously cut it in half, divided the fries, and placed my share onto the empty plate our waitress had very kindly provided when we told her we'd be splitting our two options. We watched as my portion of the burger slid off the vegetables, and then Jeremy skewered it all back together again with the toothpicks from his Reuben. All was right with my dinner again.

We had ordered a full salad because I always do so, with the hope that there will be leftovers. And we did, indeed, have leftovers to bring home because the salad was ENORMOUS! Lots of lettuce, crispy little colored nacho chip strips, what appeared to be practically an entire chicken cooked and sliced and placed decoratively on top ... it was beautiful, truly beautiful.

Tom is devoted to not eating too much fat (he is absolutely one of the most disciplined eaters I know, vs. my being an omnivore with 28 sweet teeth), but had to let that little bubble burst upon seeing this salad. It was not a healthy option, but it was absolutely fabulous! The chicken was moist, the vegetables crisp and crunchy, the rich dressing coupled with guacamole and sour cream was just luscious ... sigh.

Since there was so much salad left, I asked Jeremy if he'd like to try it. His response? "Rule #2 of Reubens: Never wash out the taste." He had spoken.

Our waitress asked if we wanted dessert, and I just burst out laughing. I do admit that the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae -- a large cookie topped with ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream -- had looked seductively enticing on the menu, and would have made an indulgent and coma-inducing dinner all by itself. But there was no more room left for food after this amazing dinner, so we left without eating any sweets.

Again, MANY MANY thanks, Karen, for the fabulous giveaway and for drawing my name as the winner! We are all truly grateful for your generosity, and you were with us in spirit as we celebrated on Saturday night at our wonderful meal ... :)



Marissa said...

what a fun giveaway to win and what delicious food that was! that salad looks SO good, but you're right, doesn't look the slightest bit healthy :) We miss Applebee's, there used to be one in the town where we went to college, but sadly none around here!

Cranberry Morning said...

And just what is it about guacamole that makes so many things so much better! Love it! The salad does look wonderful, especially with the color and crunch, but marinades poison me.

Loved Tom's remark about 'not washing out the taste' of his Reuben. :-)

Jenn said...

Sounds like your meal and the time spent together was fantastic! I envy Jeremy and his decision making skills...I'm with you and Tom, I never really know what I want...there are always so many yummy choices!! Congrats again on your win...what a great giveaway prize!

Cassiopeia said...

Wow! I'm Canadian, so we don't have an Applebees. After reading your description and looking at the mouth-watering photos, I'm ready to jump in my car and cross the border!

Well done!

Kathleen said...

Okay, now I am hungry and want to go to Applebee's LOL. Unfortunately, I will have to settle for a Lean Cuisine and an apple in about an hour.

Great photos!

Abby said...

Free food ALWAYS tastes great, right?! My favorite giveaway win was a subscrip to Cooking Light magazine!

Nicole said...

Lord have mercy, I simply CANNOT stop by your blog until I have eaten! LOL

FrugalMom said...

Congratulations on your win, it looks delicious!

Thank you for joining me at Follow Us Monday Morning, I am now following your blog. I would love it, if you would come and join me at The Wednesday Window . The Wednesday Window is the place to link up your favorite blog post of the week, check out Frugality Is Free for more details.

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