Dinner and daydreams

Sometimes, when we are particularly tired of our current jobs, or when we have thrown a particularly successful dinner party, we daydream about what it would be like to open a restaurant or food truck. While we always agree that we would want the establishment to be tiny, the type of cuisine we would feature or what meals we would serve vary. I usually fantasize about a little bakery loosely modeled on a place we fell in love with when vacationing in Austin years ago. I would serve granola and a tightly curated list of pastries in the mornings, pie and large pretzels in the afternoon. I joke that I would name it after our hypothetical future cat, Mr Snuggles, and ideally bring said hypothetical cat to work with me to help entertain patrons (health code laws have no place in daydreams). Dennis usually dreams about a dumpling place, but with a multicultural twist. Occasionally, though, we dream about a joint venture, a homemade noodle place in either nearby Adams Morgan or along 14th Street that we would name ‘Noods, Noods, Noods.’

For those who don’t live here, Adams Morgan is a mix of a neighboorhood – filled with quiet brick rowhouses on one street and bars that cater to the fresh-from-college set next to jumbo-slice pizza places on the next. We envision our noodle bar in the middle of it all, catering to young families looking for a quick dinner in the early evening and partiers looking for something to soak up the booze by night. We would advertise with a giant neon sign featuring our name and a huge arrow, beckoning toward the door. If you have ever been around Adams Morgan or 14th Street past 10PM the brilliance of this concept will be clear. In a nod to Dennis’ vision we would feature noodles from several culinary backgrounds – we would have someone pulling traditional Chinese noodles by hand in a large glass front window, below the sign, but would also feature traditional Italian pastas. We would rotate toppings with the seasons, featuring fresh primavera styles in the spring and summer, heartier sauces in the fall and winter.

Given the detail of this fantasy, you may think that we regularly churn out bowls of silky homemade noodles. Alas, we do not. Though we both love homemade pasta, it is simply too much mess, time, carbs for an average weekday. Homemade sauce though, I always make time for.

Red sauce

  • 1 large can whole tomatoes (28 oz, I believe)
  • 1 large yellow onion, julienned or diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ~3T red wine
  • 1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • Fresh thyme, oregano, rosemary, to taste

Add ~2T of canola oil or butter to a medium pot. When pot and oil/butter are heated thoroughly, add the onion. Cook until onion is lightly caramelized. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for 1-2 minutes while stirring frequently. Add the red wine to deglaze the pan, loosening all browned bits. Add the tomatoes and their juices, crushing the whole tomatoes with your hands or a potato masher (warning about using the potato masher – they will shoot juice all over the kitchen if you don’t use a gentle hand). Add fresh herbs. Bring mixture to a simmer and let cook until thoroughly heated and until somewhat thickened (aim for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to fully meld). Remove from heat, add salt to taste. Serve over pasta, or just eat straight from the pan with a spoon (not that I’ve ever done that…).

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