American Noodles is a living idea. We are exploring noodles, sauces, and accompaniments that, individually and together, create an unbelievable pasta experience. Two ideas in the noodle world have been guiding forces in our ongoing obsession, bolognese sauce and bucatini.
Years ago, when we ran The Bradley Inn, and were taught many life lessons in a short period of time, we began serving bucatini bolognese. The catalyst was the lack of interest in small tasting portions at a coastal Maine Inn. We needed larger portions of comfort food that we could feel good about serving. As usual, I made the road as difficult as possible. Instead of making or buying a quick cooking pappardelle, I sought out the long cooking bucatini. I was enamored with its design, a long, circular strand of noodle that had a hole in the center. Our bolognese sauce was a combination of minced vegetables and meat slowly cooked down with wine, tomatoes, and milk. We did not pre-cook our pasta, so every order took at least 15 minutes to prepare. We were cooking the pasta in a single pot of boiling water. If several orders for pasta came in there was an immediate backlog that was somewhat mitigated by the delicious dish that rewarded diners for their patience. It was rich and delicious and immediately became a favored dish. We served the pasta until our very last day at The Bradley Inn. I would eat it nightly. It was warm, comforting, and texturally exciting. The bucatini soaked up the sauce, the long strand wrapped around the meat and vegetables, and the small hole inside gave and added tenderness to each bite. We knew we were onto something and the combination has stuck with us through the years.
Thankfully we have learned a lot from overcoming challenges and making mistakes. For American Noodles we have made a slightly larger bucatini. It has a more dramatic hole and makes the eating experience even more exciting. It is a fresh pasta that cooks in 3 minutes in boiling water plus an extra minute in the pan absorbing our sauce. (We use die 62A and the AEX18 from Arcobaleno to make the noodle.) Our newest version of bolognese sauce features Taylor Pork Roll and beef bacon as meaty additions. The smokiness and spices add a background savoriness to the sauce. We also use a judicious amount of crushed red pepper to pique the palate. Amaya points out it has exactly the amount of spice that she likes. (She avoids black pepper like the plague, but has an affinity for the tingling heat of capsicum.) The noodles and the sauce do not have to be combined, we sell other pastas and sauces. When we serve them together they invoke memories of a life lesson, a hard knock experience that helped shape the cooks we are today, in a place where we ate plenty of hot noodles in slurpy sauce.