Tag Archives: Anthony Bourdain

Cacio e Pepe

Thursday,  I was feeling under the weather, so I took a sick day.  Mindy’s sick day looked like this:

 *wake up

* running late to the doctor’s office so I skip coffee & breakfast

*get lost & stuck behind 15 school buses during my rush.

*see doc

*head home

*eat english muffin with natural peanut butter & Nutella

* Tweet that I want to marry Nutella & change my name to Mintella

*watch No Reservations Rome episode that I recorded on demand

*think (okay, daydream complete with drooling) about dinner…

*drive to the Italian market and purchase an obscene amount of imported cheeses

Anthony Bourdain hits up this hole in the wall restaurant and orders the special.  Rome is known for it’s Carbonara (I’ll test that recipe out next week) and it’s Cacio e Pepe.  This dish got me going.  Nothing cures like carbohydrates right?  Tonight’s din will be pastastic. 

 I scoured the net for the most authentic sounding recipe, and found a kindred spirit!  “A Food Lover’s Oddessy” is a blog about, you guessed it, travel & food!   Here’s the recipe from the blog.  The red type is my wacked out commentary. 

Cacio e Pepe alla Roma Sparita

(Serves 2 people)

Half pound spaghetti

About 6 cups well-salted boiling water

For the “sauce”:

About 1 1/2 cups (2 large ladles) boiling pasta water

1 tablespoon freshly, coarsely grated pepper, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons butter

1 3/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for garnish

For the Parmesan bowl:

3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

This dish is served in a parmesan bowl.  Like the moon is made of cheese, only it’s a bowl.

Like that.  To make the Parmesan bowl, spread a very thin layer of the cheese onto a slightly warmed non-stick pan in the form of a circle, about six inches in diameter.

Here’s my attempt.

 (The cheese should slowly start to melt when you place it into the pan). Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling. Using a spatula, slide the cheese circle out of the pan and onto a turned over bowl. (To create a pretty bowl like that at Roma Sparita, it’s best to use a mold/bowl that’s not higher than 2 inches, letting the excess fan out with creases at the edges.) Use tongs to press the cheese, only while it’s hot, down or out, as you like. Cool while you make the pasta.

Or do what I did.

Then dump it down the garbage disposal and turn the kitchen fan on.  Burnt cheese stinks. Well, at least I tried to get fancy. Cook the pasta according to the directions for that brand. When the pasta is not quite cooked, about 3 minutes before you would normally take it out of the water, Get a large pan, and add the boiling pasta water, the butter and the pepper to a hot saute pan.

Add the drained pasta to the pan and toss through the water mixture until the pasta absorbs almost all of the water.

Remove from the heat, and add the grated cheese to the pasta.

No.  We aren’t doin’ low fat up in Casa FSL tonight.  When Mama is sick, I eat what I want 😉  Quickly stir the cheese into the pasta. Place into the Parmesan cup and garnish with more grated cheese and freshly grated pepper, to taste.  I added a sprinkle of garlic powder for an extra kick. Buon Appetito!

 Simple, always in season, a bit creamy, a bit cheesey, pastaliscious, and peppery.  Hopefully, next summer, I’ll be able to gush about how amazing this dish was when I ate it in Rome (not in my small Connecticut kitchen).  Until then, this recipe will have to send me away, well maybe just my tastebuds.

What’s your favorite pasta recipe?  Share it with a sistah so I can road test it, then blog about it (obviously 😉 ). 



Living Like A Real Italian?

When you hear living like an Italian do you think of spaghetti and meatballs?  Spray tans, spiky hair, and a gold chain (GTL anyone?!)?  Simplistic fashion icons? Homemade wine perhaps? 

Yeah Buddy!  T-Shirt Tiiiiime!

Well, growing up in a VERY Italian town, and being raised in an Italian American household, I see things a bit differently than the stereotypical Italiana. 

I was watching No Reservations and Anthony Bourdain makes some serious points in the Naples Episode that many people shoud take notice of.

 It dawned on me that real Italians (people who actually LIVE in Italy) have a lifestyle that reflects their surroundings.  They cook with only fresh ingredients, caught or picked within their own neighborhood.   They don’t use imported cheese.  They use the cheese from their Uncle Luigi’s sheep.  They don’t buy chilean sea bass.  They use the mussels caught from the beach across the street.  Italians are very resourceful this way.  It’s really a beautiful and uncomplicated way of life (and a way of eating).  This episode was my favorite one yet.

This guy

owns a restaurant in NYC and he calls it “Italian”.  Some patrons have been put off because there was not any chicken parm on the menu.  This man used what was local and at its peak of freshness and put it on the menu for the day.  The mentality is Italian.  It is more Italian than all of the Italian restaurants we know in the USA. The concept is brilliant.  It captures the essence of Italy.  This concept (even if you aren’t Italian)  is kind of like modern art.  It may not look like the DaVinci painting that we have forever known (or labeled) as art.  We must look closer into it to appreciate its depth, its soul.

It is my philospohy in the kitchen and where most of my best recipe ideas come from.  Use what you have on hand.  I’ve always said necessity breeds creativity.  If you need juice from 5 limes for your Key Lime Pie but only have enough juice to fill a shot glass, try using those limes, a lemon, an orange, and some coconut extract for fun! (See that action in real life here).

 If you need a flower vase and don’t have one, chop down your stems and pop the flowers into short drinking glasses. I talk it out here.


Do you live like an Italian?