Ilustration by Andrew Saeger, tHE ARTdept.
Hey fellow lushes! Dunno about you, but all this Olive Garden hoopla has given The Wino a powerful hankering


We Don't Need No Stinking Olive Garden! DIY Dinner Recipe + 5 Cheap-Ass Spaghetti Reds

Ilustration by Andrew Saeger, tHE ARTdept.
Hey fellow lushes! Dunno about you, but all this Olive Garden hoopla has given The Wino a powerful hankering for cheap-ass spaghetti and the wines that make those saucy noodles sing "Amore!"

Come on and grab a hot date, but instead of plunking down 30 or 40 bucks on din-din out on the town, I'm going to walk you through prepping a super-easy DIY pasta sure to impress. If you follow my advice, you'll save enough dough to upgrade your wine buy.

First, head to DeLaurenti at Pike Place Market. Oh, shush. I don't want to hear whining about finding parking and fighting the sea of tourists. This shop is beyond friggin' awesome, especially if you step up to the counter and ask for the cut-to-order pasta, which is $4 a pound!

These noodles (made from Cucina Fresca dough) are so damn delish, you could serve them with olive oil and Parmesan and call it good. Just do not overcook them!

OK, now for my crazy Uncle Bob's 12-minute marinara. Oh, sure you could open a jar of prepared sauce. I won't lose respect. But this fool-proof recipe gives even the beginner cook some made-from-scratch cred: Chop half an onion and a couple cloves of garlic. Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the chopped stuff. Let it cook for a couple of minutes, or a half a glass of wine. Add a teaspoon or more of red pepper flakes and stir in a 29-ounce can of organically grown crushed tomatoes. Turn the heat way down and add half a teaspoon sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Pour yourself another glass of wine and wait 10 minutes, done! Oh, don't forget to taste it and finish this dish with a shit ton of cheese on top.

Here are those 5 fine spaghetti wines:

Nipozzano Riserva has racked up a gazillion points in ratings and won some awards, but that shouldn't stop you from picking up a bottle. Priced at $20, it's NFSO. (Not For Snobs Only.) It's smooth, it's got great fruit flavors. And, hell, it's just fun to say Chianti.

And speaking of tongue-twisters, let's travel to Entiat, home of Snowgrass Winery, where sheep farmer Alan Moen makes a lovely Sangiovese. This teeny producer's wines can be a challenge to find, but ask for 'em at 106 Pine Wine Bar.

Yes, please pour me some more Ravenswood Petite Sirah, which, despite its name, has a big flavor. The rich red with the affordable price-tag ($12) might remind your tongue of tangles with plums, dark chocolate and Bing cherries.

Always been a big fan of Peter Dow's Cavatappi wines, especially the Nebbiolo, an inky black Italian varietal that's tricky to get right in Washington. Find the Maddalena Nebbiolo at Ballard Market, Central Market, Met Market Uptown, Soul Wine or Whole Foods at Westlake and Roosevelt. Bonus points for the screwtop!

Finally, the French might flip out when I suggest a Rhone-style wine to pair alongside a classic Italian dish, but dang! Some of the best pasta I ever ate was at some country inn in Provence. The Buried Cane Red -- made with fruit from the Columbia Valley -- transports me to those good old days when I could still afford a European vacation. Love the way the spicy character of this rustic red mixes it up with the rouge sauce. It's $20, which is way cheaper than airfare.

As far as re-creating The Olive Garden's endless bread sticks and bottomless iceberg lettuce salad bowl goes, you're on your own!

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