It was a relief to be at home alone on Saturday night. Work has been draining lately, and with everything I had to do to prep for Sunday’s brunch party, I made sure to have no plans other than a bottle of wine and a simple pasta dinner.
For all my talk of good ingredients and organic produce, I’m a cheapskate. Hell, that’s a huge part of the reason I cook so much. And for a long time, it was unthinkable to open a bottle of wine just for myself. But for the past few years, I’ve developed a habit of drinking alone (which I think is quite healthy, so there), just a drink or two when I get home from work. So I’m always on the lookout for cheap wines $10 or less. I don’t know enough about wine to find those wines on my own, so I often go out of my way to get to Astor Wines in the East Village. I’m sure there are wine shops in the city that are more intelligent or thoughtful, but I love that the staff at Astor Wines is used to stupid people and that when you ask for a wine that is $10 or less, they don’t suggest wines that cost $10.99. Unfortunately, few of the cheapo wines I try are worth seeking out a second bottle, but I was pleasantly surprised by the easy, clean taste of the Spanish Blanc de Nulles.
It was a night of small, happy discoveries, as I also found a whole wheat pasta that actually tastes good. There’s definitely been a theme lately of me trying to eat healthier. I finally decided to face the fact that regular pasta is a blackhole of nutrients. But the one time I had tried whole wheat pasta before–I must have been living in California–it tasted so much like cardboard I couldn’t bring even my cheapskate self to eat the rest of the box.
To my great relief, the Bionaturae spaghetti I bought at the Coop had real flavor. Their advertising is truthful–it really does have a nutty, honest flavor, the flavor of good whole grain bread. It’s different, the way tofu is different from meat, but once I accepted that, its strong flavor held up well against sauteed kale and crumbled DiPaola’s turkey sausage, with a generous grating of fresh parmesan cheese. Me, wine, pasta, and the early Sunday NY Times: it was a happy night.