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Monday, June 4, 2012

To Rome, With Love

Yesterday, I actually got to see a movie.  In the theatre.  This happens less often than you would think.

One of the previews was for the new Woody Allen movie, To Rome with Love, which was apparently shot there last summer.  It stars Roberto Begnini, the Italian comedian who was the lead in Life is Beautiful, a movie I thoroughly disliked.  It's been more than ten years since it came out and I still can't believe it won an Oscar.  But I digress.  It doesn't necessarily look like a movie I like, but the shots of Rome were gorgeous.

David and I spent four days of our vacation in Rome, which is an unruly mixture of the ancient and modern.  You walk down a street of little restaurants and shops, and boom, there's the Colosseum.  You turn the corner from an equally modern street, and there are the Baths of Caracalla.  The latter of which closes promptly at 1 p.m. every single day, BTW, and woe to those who show up at 12:45. 

We had a couple of spectacular meals in Rome, which I will post about separately, but it's mostly not the major tourist sites that will stay with me, but things like the Borghese Gallery.  Unlike the Vatican museum, which was absolutely overrun with tour groups, the Borghese allows only a very tightly controlled number of people in at once and features spectacular art set in the gorgeous villa for which much of the art was purchased.  The villa is set in large, beautiful gardens and was one of the highlights of our time in Rome.  Tickets sell out several weeks in advance--if you're planning a trip to Rome, buy them once you know your dates.

There are certain sites in Rome that look exactly as you have seen them in movies and in photographs, the Colosseum foremost among them.  Then there are places that you've never seen, like the former Jewish Ghetto and the (still active) synagogue there.  If you have any interest in Jewish or Holocaust history, this is a must-stop place and is surrounded by a still active Jewish quarter full of small kosher restaurants.  The food was so good that David and I returned to one kosher meat restaurant for a second lunch.

That salad in the background is the bomb
It's coming at you later this week.

Since we arrived home six days ago, we've been eating a lot of Italian-style food.  For our anniversary a couple of months ago, David bought me another Lidia Bastianich cookbook, Lidia's Italy, in which she picks her favorite spots in Italy and provides recipes specific to that area.  This very simple pasta takes less than twenty minutes if you don't make your own pasta. 

At a restaurant in Emilia-Romagna, the homemade pasta had a gorgeous golden yellow color.  We asked the chef about the color, and he said that he simply doesn't use the egg whites.  David had to give it a try last night.  The color and texture were great, but it does yield a slightly stickier dough.

Pasta Cacio E Pepe
Adapted from Lidia's Italy

1 1/2 tbsp. whole peppercorns, coarsely ground
3/4 lb. fresh pasta or dried spaghetti
1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

Boil a large pot of salted water for the pasta.  Depending on whether you are using fresh or dried pasta, cook either very briefly for the fresh or until just al dente for the dried.  Drain the pasta, but reserve a cup of the pasta water for tossing.

Put the drained pasta into a large bowl and toss with the cheese and pepper;  it will likely be very dry, so drizzle in the pasta water and a little olive oil until the cheese coats the pasta.  Adjust by adding more pepper, cheese or oil to taste.

Serve immediately.  Makes four small main course servings;  could serve six as a pasta course.

47 comments:

  1. Tasty pasta dish, lite and easy. It sounds like you had a wonderful vacation. I love Italian cooking. Looking forward to your salad recipe next. Have a lovely day.

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  2. One of my favorite dishes. Rome is so many places, isn't it? I loved the young American couple fighting outside the Colosseum about whether or not that was the "real Colosseum" when I was there. I wanted to shout at them, "Yes, it is. Just go!"

    I am going to have to play with making noodles with only egg yolks.

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    1. Yes! Not to mention the men dressed as gladiators standing outside waiting to have their picture taken with tourists.

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  3. Have I mentioned how jealous I am of your trip? 'Cause I am. This pasta is a perfect example of the beauty of simplicity. Yum!

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  4. The pasta is very light and simple which I like,,Yum !!

    Ridwan

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  5. Oh yummy in my tummy! Love this.

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  6. Glad you had a great trip and you are really teasing us with all these "posts to come!"

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  7. How was the trip? I wish I could tag along with you. I love simple pasta like this! I look forward to your salad recipe next. :-)

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    1. I would love to travel with other foodies!

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  8. pasta looks wonderful I like the healthy dish

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  9. Glad to see you back from Rome. The pasta looks elegant with that bomb salad which I will be looking forward for.

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  10. Sigh...Seeing Italy is on my bucket list. I know what you mean about wanting the foods you ate on vacation when you first get back home. Happens to me too. :)

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    1. This was my second trip to Italy, and there are still large parts of it I haven't seen--Venice, Naples, Sicily--and those are on my bucket list.

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  11. Sounds like a wonderful movie because well, I am obsessed with visiting Italy one day :D
    BEautiful pasta dish too!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  12. Such simple ingredients for a fantastic pasta!! I keep telling myself... Italy... someday. :)

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  13. Italy is on my list as one of the places I want to travel to. Great food, great art and culture. Sounds like you had an amazing time.
    I do get in a mood where I am craving some light pasta and this looks like it is the ticket! Interesting tip about using egg yolks only, I have never tried that. Delicious post!

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    1. It hadn't occurred to me to use only the yolks either, but the color difference is truly astonishing.

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  14. Reading your sharing brings back memories of my holiday to Rome. With the many places we went to, my fav was Vatican City and The Colosseum. Sad to say the food was not my kind though my other half was fine with it. You know I need my rice with plenty of chillies and these was what I missed all the time.

    I adore this simple pasta recipe, you know I am so alien when it comes to cooking pasta. I have a packet which has been sitting for so long in my pantry. Its time I brought it out this weekend to try your recipe. My other half will be happy that for a change its pasta and not rice.

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    1. Nava, I'm partial to rice dishes too--do you like risotto? You're right that I didn't encounter much spicy food in Rome, but I personally love to add pepperoncini when cooking at home for a little zip.

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  15. Karen (Back Road Journal)June 5, 2012 at 6:41 AM

    I know that your trip had to be wonderful. Simple pasta dishes are some of my favorites. I think another reason that the pasta is so yellow is because most of the eggs come from free roaming chickens. Their yolks are so orange. We enjoyed them for breakfast many morning in Europe.

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    1. That's true--I think the quality of the eggs is better. I need to find the notes I wrote when I was talking to the chef in Modena--he was using egg yolks only and had a very specific yolk/water ratio.

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  16. I love Lidia!!! And I love her cooking show too! :) Thanks for sharing the recipe! I am glad you got to enjoy a movie at a theater (happens very rarely here too!)

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  17. You need to stop by..... http://heidi-younggrasshopper.blogspot.com/2012/06/happy-featured-5-yes-we-have-winner.html?spref=fb

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  18. How lucky you are to have such a fun trip. The pasta looks like a perfect side dish!

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  19. Easy peasy and sounds really light. Surely it made for a perfect meal. :)

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  20. So glad you are back safe and sound and that you enjoyed your trip! How interesting not to use the egg yolks in the pasta...but it looks light and delicious! And looking forward to hearing more about your trip and to that salad recipe! : )

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  21. This sounds easy and tasty. My kind of cooking.

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  22. Simply pasta. That's the way I love it. When it is absolutely swimming in sauce, it really ruins good fresh pasta. Great recipe. Looking forward to more Italian recipes from your trip :)

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  23. Simply pasta. That's just the way I like it.

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  24. So jealous of your trip to Italy!! I think they'd have to roll me out of the country though lol!! Love a simple pasta dish like this one, sounds delicious!

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    1. I'm not going to lie--I gained a couple of pounds despite all the walking. I've been hitting the gym hard since I got back.

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  25. Your trip sounds amazing ... I'm so envious :-)

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  26. this looks so wonderfully elegant and simple - love it!

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  27. So jealous of your trip, it sounds like you had a wonderful time. Oh and there is nothing like a simple pasta dish. Can't wait for the salad recipe!

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  28. Ugh.. I miss Rome! That's where I studied in college :) And that Lidia recipe is a childhood staple, my mom would cook out of her cookbook most weeknights, we're a big Italian family! Your trip sounds amazing!

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  29. Your trip sounds like it was fun. I like the look of this dish and am looking forward to the 'bomb'!

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  30. Wow, the history, sights and the food must be awesome! Rome's definitely on my bucket list!

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  31. The pasta looks great... I can't wait to hear about the salad!

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  32. A simple and delicious pasta. Look forward to your salad recipe.

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  33. Love this - fresh pasta really needs no adornments. Simple, quick, and then you can spend more time enjoying great food with great people. :D

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  34. The Borghese Gallery sounds wonderful; how civilized that they only let in a small number of guests!
    And whether or not you like Woody Allan, he has the knack of showcasing the cities he loves so beautifully.

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    1. I actually do like Woody Allen--and you're right that the cities are often characters in his movies! All of the Manhattan movies, plus "Match Point" and "Midnight in Paris" are perfect examples.

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  35. Isn't that the most amazing thing about traveL? the inspiration when we arrive home? When I travel, I come home with food inspiration and new life thoughts.

    Great post! Great dish too.

    Cheers.
    velva

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  36. Begnini is a great comedian. I love his movies. The meal you prepared is so much inspired. Now you brought Italy to your home!

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  37. Nom nom nom! I make pasta that's like this, but I infuse the oil with garlic first :)

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    1. That's a great idea, and a nice variation on the dish.

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