Anthony Bourdain’s: No Reservations episode in Rome could be the greatest display of food porn I have ever seen. I have just recently discovered the awesomeness that is Anthony Bourdain. I admire his no bullshit attitude towards not only food, but life… and the fact that he makes inappropriate sexual references and uses the f-word constantly. The episode in Rome is the first No Reservations I had seen. It couldn’t have been any more profound. The episode is mostly in black and white, mainly to catch that dreamy Fellini vibe, which worked. I daydreamed about the food and city of Rome, walking down the narrow cobblestone streets, sitting on the patio of some family owned restaurant that had been there for 60 years, falling in love all over again… mmm……….. oh sorry, must have dozed off. Anyway, I adore Italian food. There is nothing more comforting than a giant bowl of deliciously rich pasta and a nice glass of red wine. I am (not so) patiently awaiting the day I travel to Italy. But for now, I have to settle on making pasta here.
In the beginning of the episode, Bourdain goes to a local restaurant to have a very typical Roman dish: Cacio y Pepe. Translated it means cheese and pepper. He says that Romans believe “there is good cacio y pepe, adequate cacio y pepe, and everything else… which is a sin against God”… oh, no pressure at all. Well, I’m glad I served this dish to just Derek and I. I certainly don’t want to offend any Romans… and God for that matter. But in my humble non-Roman opinion, it came out beautifully, especially for such a simple dish.
Cacio y Pepe
fresh pasta, like linguini or spaghetti (it’s important that it’s fresh)
2 Tbsp butter
lots of freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated, good quality, Pecorino Romano, plus more for garnish
reserved starchy pasta water
Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add a lot of salt. Anne Burrell of the Food Network says it should be “salty like the sea”. This is your only chance to season the pasta itself. Cook pasta to just barely under al dente. Reserve about a cup of the cooked pasta water. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the reserved water into a sauté pan over medium heat. Add butter and freshly cracked pepper. Add cooked pasta and the 1/2 cup of pecorino. Mix everything together and it should have a creamy consistency. If it’s too dry, add a little more of the pasta water. Garnish with more pecorino and cracked pepper. In a separate non stick sauté pan, preferably an egg pan or the smallest pan you have, heat over med to med low. Add grated pecorino in a thin layer and leave it alone. It will start melting together. Wait a couple of minutes until it is light golden in color. Take off heat and let cool in the pan. Once cool, you should be able to slip the crispy cheese right out. Then beak into big pieces and garnish the pasta with it.
Yield: 2 servings