A Surprise Lunch

Today I accompanied TLW on a bunch of errands to the part of town we call ‘The Mall.’ We don’t usually go into either Mall…but it is an easy way to label it. We always go to the point that is the farthest from our house and work our way back.

We have passed Carrabba’s Italian Grill at least 50 times since we have moved here, but never once have we ever set foot in there…or any of their restaurants. Today I had a feeling we should stop for lunch…and of course the ever-willing missus agreed.

Upon entering, we were greeted by a very vivacious and competent hostess/waitress (Karen) who seated us immediately. After taking our drink orders she returned immediately with them and instantaneously appeared with bread…nothing unusual about this so far. Then she reappeared with Ceasar salads, plopped them down and disappeared.

TLW is on a
damn diet and lately never orders Ceasar salads…but after giving each other a few strange looks we decided to dig in and ask questions later. Nearly finished with the salads we still had not seen a menu…so TLW thought that perhaps it was a “surprise lunch” kinda place…just show up and get whatever they have prepared for lunch…a unique idea for a restaurant! We finally flagged down Karen, and asked if we could have a menu and she started laughing!!…at The General…of course she was nice about the laugh.

It seems Carrabba’s is never open for lunch. But today they were having a fundraiser for a local boy named Chris Barr who has recently had a kidney transplant and all the proceeds of the lunch were going to him. Apparently Carrabba’s does a lot of charity work…way to go Carrabba’s!! She told us that his monthly medications cost around $6,000 a month!

Karen apologized for not making us aware of it when we walked in…but I think we must be the only people on the planet who do not know Carrabba’s is not open for lunch! She said if we did not like Chicken Marsala (again NOT on TLW’s meal plan) we could leave and the drinks and salads were on her…how could we say ‘no?’ So we stayed, and were presented with chicken marsala and rigatoni with red sauce. Now I will say up front that I am not a chicken fan…in fact I eat very little of those fellas…but both of us agreed that the chicken itself was extremely moist and flavorful. The marsala sauce was wonderful…and I noticed TLW did not hesitate to eat her chicken with the sauce.

As we were finishing (and continuing to chuckle over our surprise lunch) a lady came over to our table and introduced herself to us as Chris’s mother. She thanked us for coming and told us more about his plight and how he received his kidney. Unfortunately, TLW did not get the correct address for his website 🙁

Lessons learned today:

1) How lucky we are to have our health…how can one pay for medicines costing 6K a month.

2) Carrabba’s has very good food.

3) Carrabba’s gives back. That is a good thing. We like to give back and they will be rewarded for doing that.

4) Carrabba’s has a great staff. I betcha that every employee there was giving their time to make this lunch successful

TLW found the following recipe for a “copycat” version of Carrabba’s Chicken Marsala today. The General suggests you try it at home, but he also suggests that you go to your local location and see if all of the Carrabba restaurants are as generous with their time.

PS…when we were leaving we noticed that they had put up a small sign on the front door indicating the special event taking place…thanks, Karen!

Copy Cat Recipe for Carrabba’s Chicken Marsala

4 tablespoons butter

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

4 shallots, chopped fine

1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup dry marsala

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Pound chicken breasts to even out thickness and lightly salt and pepper.

In large skillet, saute chicken in 2 T melted butter until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side.

Remove from pan and set aside.

Melt remaining butter in pan and add shallots and mushrooms.

Cook until mushrooms are lightly browned.

Add Marsala and bring to a boil, scraping browned bits from bottom of pan.

Add cream and lemon juice and return to a boil.

Season with salt and pepper.

Return chicken to pan for about 3 minutes to reheat and finish cooking.

Serve with buttered fettucini.

**The comments for this recipe were very good. We were told that Carrabba’s grills their chicken, but this recipe is worth trying. We will…and we will go back to CIG.