Have you ever had one of those unforgettable dinners?
Once upon a time, we were new parents and we had a brand new little baby. We decided early on that we weren’t going to become one of “those” parents whose baby dictated the family plans. We were living in San Francisco at the time and made frequent day trips up to wine country as a couple. It was an easy drive up. Maybe we’d visit a winery or two and end the outing with a nice leisurely dinner. There was a roadside restaurant on the main highway that we frequented that was known for their amazing unpretentious Italian food in a very unassuming building.
Our son joined us at the end of October and after a couple of months, we felt we were comfortable to take him out. We thought, “Wouldn’t be it cool to go up to Sonoma Valley for Christmas?” We packed up our son and loaded up our tiny Honda Civic with blankets, two changes of clothing, stroller, toys, bottles, and diapers, diapers, diapers. It was a usual gorgeous sunny day in the Bay Area and we were ready to hit the road with our son clad in his Ralph Lauren onesie and us in our chunky cozy sweaters.
The car ride was eventless and our son dozed off on our way up. We visited one venue where a huge Christmas tree lit up the lobby. Perfect setting for our first family portrait for our Christmas card. It was relatively uncrowded since we were visiting during the week and the staff was particularly helpful. We fed the little babe when he got a little fussy and gave him a toy when he got fidgety. Easy breezy.
We were so amazed at how relaxed this little day trip was going. It was getting close to dinner time, our son had a full belly, was still docile, and so we figured we could stop at our favorite restaurant on the way home. I couldn’t wait for a heaping plate of pasta to fill my belly. We would be quick and back on the road, and the drive home would lull our dear little son to sleep. Easy breezy.
As soon as we walked into the surprisingly packed restaurant, the din of the diners or the bright lights invoked squirminess with our son. I felt a tinge of anxiety - the first that day. It was the type of eatery where we ordered at the counter and they served the order at the table. We were rolling the stroller back and forth as we waited in line. The cries from our son were crescendo-ing with every move. We scooped him out and did the combo side-to-side bob to comfort him. And as a new self-conscious anxious parent, we were trying to silently apologize to every stranger with our eyes and a shrug, yearning for empathy.
My husband and I finally got our order in, found a table in a corner (thank goodness), and sat down. We looked at each other, relieved. Our son was still fussing, but nothing a little rocking in the stroller couldn’t fix. And as quickly as we sat down, our steaming plates of pasta floated right in front of us. Whew, we made it.
Cue the crash of the cymbals. Our tiny little son couldn’t take it anymore and turned up the volume to fully express his exasperation and exhaustion. And this is when we learned how to dine with infants. I deserted my husband at the table and took our screaming son outside and rocked him in the cool evening air until he quieted down. I returned to our table. I inhaled a few forkfuls of the now cold pasta with one eye on our son and literally sitting at the edge of my seat. One cry and my husband then scooped him up and took him outside. I took this chance to eat in peace for a luxurious 2 minutes, then packed up the stroller and didn’t even bother to take the leftovers. The last 20 minutes was all that I could handle for that evening.
And as predicted, our son promptly fell asleep as soon as we all got into the car.
Here is the dish I left behind that evening. It is one of my favorite pasta dishes and the Gallo Family Merlot works perfectly for this dish. Spaghetti All’Ubriaco translates to “drunken pasta” in Italian, but don’t worry the alcohol is cooked off and the pasta is left with a beautiful jewel tone hue and subtle flavors. Great on its own or served as a side dish to steak.
- 1 quart water
- 1 bottle of Gallo Family Merlot
- 8 oz. thick spaghetti or linguine (dried pasta)
- 1 fat clove of garlic, or two small cloves, sliced thinly
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 oz. finely diced pancetta
- Dried red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
- Grated Parmesan cheese to serve
- Bring the water and wine to boil. Drop in the pasta and cook to 2 minutes less than required on the package instructions.
- Meanwhile, heat a skillet over low to medium-low heat. Add the butter, olive oil, garlic, and pancetta. Keep the heat low to prevent scorching. Add red pepper flakes if desired.
- When the pasta is ready, transfer the pasta to the skillet with a pair of tongs. Raise the heat of the skillet to medium. With a ladle, add up to ½ cup of the reserved pasta water/wine to the skillet to create a little sauce.
- Serve pasta in warmed pasta bowls. Garnish with cheese.
- Enjoy in peace.
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The best recipes always have a good story. Here is what the rest of the Sunday Supper family is sharing today!
- Crepes with Sweet Wine Poached Berries by Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
- Overnight Blueberry Baked French Toast by Alida’s Kitchen
- Sangria Stuffed French Toast by Melanie Makes
Mains and Sides:
- Angel Hair Pasta with Chicken Spinach and White Wine Sauce by Family Foodie
- Baby, That’s a Good Merlot Onion Burger by Cupcakes and Kale Chips
- Beef Braciole with Parmesan and Prosciutto by The Little Ferraro Kitchen
- Beef Daube by The Foodie Army Wife
- Chicken and Couscous Stuffed Peppers by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Chicken Sausage and Mushroom Skillet over Goat Cheese Grits by Neighborfood
- Giambotta an Italian Veggie Stew by Country Girl In The Village
- Grilled Pepperoni Pizza by Ruffles & Truffles
- Rosemary Garlic Chicken Thighs by Hip Foodie Mom
- Short Rib Ragu with Rigatoni by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff by Foxes Love Lemons
- Spaghetti All’Ubriaco by kimchi MOM
- Tarragon Chicken by girlichef
- World’s Best Turkey Meatballs by Shockingly Delicious
Beverages and Desserts:
- Tropical Breezes Sangria by The Weekend Gourmet
- Lemon on a Cloud by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Merlot Cherry Cupcakes with Sweet White Frosting by Magnolia Days
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Disclaimer: Compensation was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family