Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In Rome: Bourdain's Cacio e Pepe

Anthony Bourdain's travels have always inspired me both in the kitchen and in travel. Recently while in Rome I sought out Roma Sparita, the restaurant on No Reservations that supposedly served up the best mac n'cheese in Rome. Of course there, it's called cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper), and there it's a fancy sit-down meal in a neighborhood just outside of the center of Rome.

From the Rome Metro I walked 2-3 kilometers to the quiet little restaurant depicted on the show. The dining room is small, less than ten tables both outside and in. It's located in an old fashioned area of quiet cafes and residential housing. Unfortunately I arrived around 3 O'clock, and the place didn't open up till much later (7:30 pm). I did meet the owner, and then had to unfortunately retire back to the center of Rome for other commitments I had made that night.

I later was able to purchase a similar dish nearby my hostel, however regretted not getting to Bourdain's official recommendation. That said, I've been making this dish since I was little in some form or fashion, and still do at home.

The official recipe is as simple as Romano cheese, butter, salt and pepper, but feel free to Americanize it with your choice of accessible cheeses (sometimes I use cheddar).

Roma Sparita also makes crunchy edible cheese bowls, a tasty gimmick that wows those lucky enough to get a reservation at Rome's best restaurant.

Step 1: Grate some cheese, and fry with some butter in a small pan until the fats separate and fill the pan.

Step 2: Quickly, lift the cheese and mold over a bowl.

Step 3: Once cooled, flip over, fill and enjoy!


Next come the fun of making the pasta. It's really simple:

Ingredients:
1/2 stick of butter
1 regular box of thin spaghetti (or other thin noodle)
16 oz of shredded cheese (Romano if you want to be official.)
Generous amounts of salt and black pepper
(Some wine to drink why you cook is never a bad idea!)

Method:


  1. Boil the noodles (8-9 minutes) per manufacturers instructions, drain and return to pot.
  2. Remove noodles from heat, and add sliced chunks of butter, and handfuls of cheese.
  3. Salt and pepper as you go, mixing with tongs till all is melted and happy.
  4. Plate noodles and garnish with additional cheese.

The result?

Delizioso!



Certain images: courtesy of  A. Person