Trippa alla Romana

When in Rome, eat as the Romans do.

So I was in Rome, and wanted to eat as the Romans do. We had settled into a friendly and popular trattoria around the corner from our apartment, and scanning the menu, I landed on one of the most traditional Roman dishes of them all — trippa alla Romana.

Tripe — architectural shot

Tripe — architectural shot

I’ve always wanted to like tripe. Many a regrettable weekend morning I tried to gag down a bowl of menudo, the supposed cure-all for the hangover. And each time was reminded why I swore the last time I was never going to order it again.

More

Advertisements

Skinny Girls Roadshow LIVE from Rome — Empire of Delicious

They say that it is impossible to get a bad meal in Italy. I have, in the past, found this to be more or less truth. It seems as true as ever now.

Our impossibly good first meal we put together ourselves with odds and ends from the Carrefour market — a bottle of grassy green olive oil, some bufala mozzarella, a heavenly soft salumi and a nearly perfect San Marzano tomato, paired with a crusty whole wheat bread and a fine $2.99 bottle of Montepulciano.
Salumi, bread, tomato, bufala mozzarella and olive oil and vino rosso in our flat

Salumi, bread, tomato, bufala mozzarella and olive oil and vino rosso in our flat

We attempted to have a bad meal at a dirty looking casual pizza joint our first night in Rome. The salad came, and it appeared of the sort you might choke down at your neighborhood pizzeria called Little Tony’s or Rocco’s back home — lettuce, tomato wedges, black olives, pickled vegetables, artichoke hearts, oil and vinegar. Except that here, the lettuce was exceptionally flavorful, the tomatoes perfectly ripe, the black olives briny and toothsome, each pickled mushroom and celery and pepper cured I’m sure in a vat in the back of that very restaurant.

More

Simple Perfection, Perfectly Simple

My pal and sometime Skinny Girls sidekick Bob and his lovely wife Shoba came for dinner the other night with a small tub of gazpacho.

“Bob, this is incredible!” another dinner guest gushed upon first taste.

Cacio e pepe

Cacio e pepe

“Sean’s recipe,” Bob immediately fessed up. Although I must immediately fess up, it is the simplest off all recipes — ripe tomatoes, stale bread, water, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and salt into the blender. Done.

Simplest of all recipes besides, perhaps, one of Italy’s easiest, most delicious pastas — cacio e pepe. Or, roughly translated, “cheese & pepper”.

All the world’s great, simple dishes are the sum of the very best parts — sushi, for example, depends entirely on the quality of the fish and the rice. Traditional cacio e pepe is composed of three ingredients — pasta, cheese and pepper. I add butter and chopped parsley because I like to, and a real Roman might tell you that I have completely @#$*ed it up. But I am particular about the quality of the butter and the parsley. If I’m counting on five ingredients to make my dish a success, you better bet I care.

*    *    *

Speaking of those five ingredients… the dish will be tasty even if you purchase whichever brands of spaghetti, pecorino, butter, parsley and pepper they’ve got at the local Safeway (or, because I can track readers on six of the seven continents, whatever the local grocery store in your neck of the woods/jungle/savannah/desert may be). But I highly recommend finding a beautiful aged pecorino, the highest quality spaghetti you can (I like spaghetti alla chitarra), fresh organic parsley, a freshly churned or raw butter and some tellicherry pepper.

If you’re like me, I’m guessing you won’t want to drink a white wine with this. And fortunately, the towering flavors of the pecorino and pepper stand up nicely to a medium to full-body red — try a Chianti or a California zinfandel or sangiovese.

And please… enjoy!

*    *    *

Cacio e pepe
serves 4-6

1 lb. spaghetti
1 packed cup grated pecorino romano
1 heaping tbsp. best quality butter
2 tbsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Cook spaghetti to al dente in a large pot of salted water.

Drain spaghetti, retaining 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Return spaghetti to pot. Toss spaghetti with remaining ingredients until creamy and incorporated.

Season to taste with salt and serve.

Rocking the Roman Easter

I like to glom onto religious holidays that have interesting regional food traditions and make them my own.

IMG_5113

I’ve often been inspired by Saveur magazine, my favorite food rag. Such was the case all those years ago when I got issue #11, March/April 1996 (yes, I’m proud to say I was a charter subscriber to the publication in its first year), and there was an article on a traditional Roman Easter feast. More

Little Silver Fishies

Sardines are not a fence sitter’s fish. Like anchovies, people tend to either love them or hate them. But in the hater’s camp, I usually find folks who have only encountered small tins of the tightly packed, long-deceased fish. And I aim to convert them with the revelation that is a fresh sardine.

Most people have never seen a fresh sardine, with its sleek profile and pearlescent silver and blue skin. A favorite food of large baleen whales, sardines are one of the most abundant fish in the sea, swimming in massive shoals numbering in the millions. More

Previous Older Entries