Archive for March 2012

NGW: Charles Smith Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon 2009   Leave a comment

Washington State has been coming on for some years now.  The Columbia Valley especially.  Today’s wine grabbed our attention with a high rating to price ratio from one of the wine mags of record.  You know the one… 

As for wine ratings, and especially the 100 point scale goes, I have to admit that I struggle with it because it does not reflect the way that most people drink wine.  First, let’s face it, most people will not drop the serious coin that’s often needed to get one of those 93+ point wines.  So, for them, the 100 point scale is truly meaningless.  Second, most of the time, you know in the first few sips whether you like something or not.  My dad has the simplest approach when it comes to wine– (a) Don’t Like It, (b) Like It and (c) Like It a Lot.  The rest of the process is really just a refinement and confirmation of those first impressions.  

Another thing that I do not like about the 100 point scale, and indeed my own 4 star system is the fact that it places wines from across all regions on equal footing.  The presumption being that you could readily exchange one for another at any point in tme.  What wines I drink at any point in time are a function of my mood, food, and ‘hood– how I feel, what I’m eating and where I am.  And with the star system, there is more flexibility to accommodate mood, food & ‘hood.  That’s one reason I try to include some information about speciifc subregions and varietals.   

Charles Smith Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($14).  Disarmingly Dark in a back alley kind of style, I half-expected to be mugged by this wine.  A whiff of cocoa and herbs and the scent of freshly fallen leaves in late October.  As expected, the fruit is dark and brooding.  Ripe black plum and a touch of spice.  And while this has the structure, with a touch of grippiness from the tannins, it just seems a bit too heavy and extracted.  I noticed that one reviewer rated this at 91 points.  So, who is checking the checkers?  Me, that’s who.  While a good wine, I think that rating is overly generous.  As you know we shun the 100 point scale around here in favor of a more flexible standard that does not have the veneer of arithmetic certitude. Your palate is not mine and vice versa.  So who will check me?  YOU will.  Tastes twice.  Rated **

Washington State Wine Map

And what can you pair with something like this?  I’m thinking of this a great pizza wine.  But you had better put some serious meat and garlic on that pizza.  I’m thinking about a pizza that requires you to wear your Big Boy pants– sausage, meatball, garlic, pepperoni.  The same sartorial advice applies to you ladies out there.

I can’t speak for the this green-shirted little guy, but my boy in the photo at the top of this page doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  No-Guilt Wednesday (NGW) is not about compromising on quality.  It’s all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank ($15 or less), eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.

Posted March 27, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

Mano-a-Mano: Eve Kendall vs. Vesper Lynd   5 comments

Like a She-wolf of London, her hair is perfect, makeup immaculate, eyes brilliant. 

I’m well dressed and seated in the dining car as the train sways back and forth on the way to some destination where mis-adventure awaits.  Ms. R strolls in wearing that killer red dress that always makes my throat muscles slacken and my jaw fall agape.  I force a smile as she glides into the other side of the booth never losing eye contact with me.  I am perhaps a little embarrassed that she already knows that I think she’s awesome.  It’s all in my eyes, you see. 

This is not an accidental meeting.  She planned it all along.  

Quickly!… order up a bottle of Social Lubricant– yes, that will calm the nerves.  She may be easy, but she is not cheap– it had better be a damn good bottle.  Hell, she’s not that easy either.

The waiter brings over a wine list.  You feel her eyes on you.  You gulp and sigh.  Did she see that?  You know she did.  Pinot Noir would be good.  It will go well with her trout or your lamb.  Ah, something Burgundian!?  Wait, that might be too predictable.  Perhaps something more Oregonian, instead? 

Watching North by Northwest for the umpteenth time followed a few days later by the Bond film, Casino Royale, I was struck by one interesting connection between the two: the dining car scene, which is where the magic starts.  For Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) it’s Eve Kendall (played by Eva Marie Saint).  And there is Vesper Lynd (played by Eva Green) playing point-counterpoint with James Bond (Daniel Craig) on that high-speed train.  What is it about Eves and Evas?  I’m smelling some forbidden fruit.  We realize that from the moment we are seated across from each other.  But that won’t stop us from having a little dinner, right?  After all, just sitting there, my mind in overdrive, I’m burning up more calories than is really decent to admit to.  A man has to eat to keep up his strength…  

Hitchcock costumed his characters in an understated and muted palate of grays, blacks and whites.  That is until he drops Eve Kendall  into that red and black dress.  But that dress is no match, for the more buxom, Vesper Lynd’s attire.  A similar approach is employed in Casino Royale– a sea of black formal wear parted when that purplish, burgundy colored number is unveiled.   Ah-wooooooooh!

Both of these ladies sport a kick-your-dashing-ass-if-you mess-with-me attitude.  That combination makes them consummately dangerous.   Could you choose one if you had to?  You already know how this works. 

Today’s Mano-a-Mano matchup features two nefariously good Pinots.  One from the Northwest, umm, Pacific-Northwest, specifically Oregon, and in a nod to Monaco and Parisian native, Eva Green, the second from Burgundy.   

I don’t need to choose amongst the ladies or the wines.  I’ve got Ms. R– dark and mysterious in her own way in that red dress.  And we have two bottles to share and explore.  Dare I kiss and tell?  Only about the wines.  The rest up to your imagination… 

"I'm Eve Kendall. I'm 26 and unmarried. Now you know everything."

  

"I'm the money" "Every penny"

If you want to check out clips for these two dining car scenes, just click on the photos. 

Pascal Marchand Avalon Pinot Noir Bourgogne 2009 ($21).  A typically pinot bouquet with hints of florals .  A more reserved approach to the fruit.  Strawberry fruit and graphite with an acidic backbone.  A nice wine.  Rated **1/2

Lundeen Pinot Noir Reserve Willamette Valley 2008 ($29).  The label says these are “HONEST, HANDCRAFTED WINES” And they really mean it– the vintage year was hand stamped on the label.  I love that.  But I love what’s in the bottle even better.  Starting off with a bouquet that was quite similar to the Pascal Marchand Avalon, the similarities ended there.  Lush raspberry fruit comes forward with a softer acidity than the Pascal Marchand.  Finishes with supple tannins.  This is a producer to watch.  Rated ***1/2

Bottom Line: both of these wines are like soft kisses.  The Lundeen is just a little bit softer and more sensual.

"You don't mind if I leave my loafers on, do you?"

Posted March 25, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in Mano-a-Mano

An Evening in Norwalk, Connecticut– Osteria Romana   Leave a comment

 I once heard that riding a Vespa is like taking an unattractive girl home from the bar at closing time.    It may be fun to do, but you never want your friends to see you doing it…

Last night, my good friend, JR, chose Osteria Romana for a late dinner.  With a Vespa parked out front, this had the makings for either a really good night or something less than that. 

The restaurant, located in a strip mall shopping center, has a welcoming atmosphere.  The wait staff were courteous, friendly and helpful.  In a word, well-trained. 

The food, though good in places was uneven.  For our appetizers, the four of us (including Mrs. JR and Ms. R) selected two standard dishes– a charcuterie/cheese plate and a fried calamari– both executed nicely.  The fra diavolo dipping sauce for the calamari was quite flavorful.  But most memorable is a dish they call, Spedino Alla Romana, a 1/4 inch thick piece of homemade mozzarella which is Egg-battered, breaded and pan-fried and topped off with a sublime sauce of garlic and capers.  It is compelling in its simplicity and I would return to this restaurant just for this simple little app. 

A word on portion size.  Osteria Romana delivers food in an America Style– that is to say, in overabundant portion sizes.  Any of their main courses could easily have been shared.  For my main course, my initial inclination, since this was my first visit to this place, was to go with a more traditional dish, like say, the Veal Saltimboca.  But our waiter suggested a pan seared and sesame crusted tuna instead.  I’m game– so I went for it.  The slab of tuna arrived nearly covering the plate it was served on and allowing it to hide the two bushels of greens underneath (perhaps a little bit of hyperbole on my part, but just a little– there were a LOT of greens!).  Although perfectly cooked with a nice crunchy texture on the outside and rare meat inside, unfortunately, it was not properly seasoned and it also could have used some sort of sauce to finish it.  My good friend, taking my cue ordered the veal, which by the way, was superior to the tuna in every way.  I should have gone with my initial instinct.  Ms. R ordered a seafood risotto, which delivered on flavor, though it was a bit too al dente for her tastes.  (Seriously, should risotto ever be served al dente?)  Both her item and mine came from a specials menu. 

The dessert, a creme brulee was unappetizing.  Lemon flavored (not mentioned in the menu), it was not to Ms. R’s liking.  I am OK with the lemon, what I am not OK with is the fact that there was a pool of liquid underneath the custard which was served at room temperature.  For me, the ideal CB should have a hard warm crust and cool custard underneath.  It seems this one may have been sitting around and that may have been why the custard broke down releasing the liquid.  The dessert gets a definite F.

Pricing is consumer friendly– we got out of there for about $50 per person before tip– and that included a fair corkage fee of $15 per bottle.

In summary, this is good place to go for Northern Italian fare.  The food is good so long as they are operating in their comfort zone.  If you stick to the basics, from the regular menu, you should not be disappointed.  If I had just had the Spedino and the Veal Saltimboca, I would be raving about the food.  But there were those other shortcomings and so in a Sybarite Sauvage first, we rate this place a C+

Tenuta Julia Amarone (2006).  Amongst the wines we consumed last night was this little Amarone that I pulled out of the cellar.  Mild yet confident aromas rose from our glasses.  Ripe dried fruit flavors, complemented with a silkiness on the palate gave this wine an elegance that set it apart from the wines that came before.  Rated ***

As for the Vespa, I think you would be the envy your friends if you had Gina Lollobrigida or Ms. R hanging on to your waist as you sped away!

Posted March 24, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

NGW: Château Clément Saint Jean Medoc 2009 Revisited   5 comments

I was not terrified– but I should have been.  I am not dead– but I so easily could have been. 

I was fifteen years old and riding in the back seat of my dad’s 1974 Pontiac Grand Prix after returning from a family vacation to Acapulco.  As we neared our destination, in Killeen, Texas, the car, painted a creamy almost yellow color was, in an instant, surrounded by an armada of dark sedans.  Angry Texas men emerged from these vehicles, drew weapons, shouted for us to get out of our car.   This was not the way we had planned to end our evening…

It was the Summer of 1975– the year my family almost died.  If you have never had an arsenal of loaded guns pointed at you by an army of jittery Lone Star State police officers, this may seem like an improbable tale.  Somehow, we managed, to avoid becoming roadkill on that Texas night.   

In a case of mistaken identity, our car, the aforementioned 1974 Pontiac Grand Prix, was taken for another car (same make, model and color, apparently) carrying felons that had been robbing God-fearing Texas-folk at shotgun-point earlier that evening.  It did not help matters that my dad brought back a souvenir Mexican sombrero that we just happened to put on the shelf behind the back seats so that it, and nothing else, was all that was visible by anyone following our car.  Yeah, from the outside, we even looked like Bandidos.  But really fancy red-velvet-sombrero-wearing-mariachi-bandidos— ay-yaay-yaay!

 

There we were, completely surrounded– my dad and my cousin’s husband, who were in the front seat, got out.  The latter was immediately set upon, bent over the hood of the car and treated to the local ritual salutation known as “Texas Frisk’em” —  just like in the movies.  My dad, despite orders to raise his hands, just kept asking in a spanish accent, “What did we do wrong?”  The barrels of a thousand pistols, though, seemed to be speaking a different yet completely understandable language.  Hands up might have been a better choice.  

I got out of the car next.  As a 135 pound 15-year-old kid, I do not believe that I cut a particularly threatening figure.  But with my mass of curly hair, I was probably not clean-cut enough to completely pass muster in this Texas town.  I recall as I got out of the car that there was one gun in particular that seemed to be pointed right at me– its aperture taking the measure of me.  If you asked me to describe the man behind the gun, I could not do it.  All I saw was a gun pointed in my direction.  And when I think back on that night, that is the first image I see.

Next, my cousin, a lovely, though pudgy girl emerged from the vehicle.  I vaguely remember telling my mother and sister to get out of the car.  As mom stepped out, shoes in hand, with my 11-year-old sister in tow, the officers had an OSM (“Oh S**t!” Moment), now realizing they had almost taken out a family of innocents visiting from New Jersey. 

“Holster up, boys.  There’ll be no killin’ tonight”– we survived a near Texas mass-a-cree.

Do I hate Texas?  Hell no.  Why?  Well, aside from the fact that we were permitted to live, this was also the Summer of my first real kiss courtesy of  the red-headed Texas lass that one of my other cousins fixed me up with.  Turns out her specialty was the flip side of the Texas constabulary welcome we had received just a few days earlier– she was the first to introduce me to the infinite pleasures of the French Kiss in the back seat of my cuz’s family car.  Who knew they parlayed the Fraan-say in Texas?  How could I possibly be anti-Texas after that?   

Château Clément Saint Jean Medoc 2009

What, you may ask, do these recollections have to do with wine or food?  Wait for it, cuz here it comes…  In what is definitely a bit of a stretch, tonight’s wine, a little red-headed French number reminds me of that girl.  Don’t ask how this happened– it just did.  And when it does, you go with it.

Château Clément Saint Jean Medoc 2009 ($14).  Concentrated, as befits a very good vintage, but not over-extracted this nice little wine is another Cru Bourgeois from the 2009 vintage,  with sweet spice and a tinge of earth and gravel on the nose.  It’s filled out with stoney red fruit, red cherry lip gloss and cedar notes.  Tame and well structured tannins leave me licking my glass.  Where did she go?  What was her name?  Rated **1/2

I have reviewed this wine before, giving it what at the time I thought was an admittedly generous *** rating.   Is a little bottle variation at play here?  Perhaps.  Could it be  palate variation?  Maybe.  Most likely, it was just my state of mind then and now.  But this is consistent enough that I would still not turn up my nose to it at any time and you shouldn’t either.  That’s part of the magic of drinking wine– how you feel about it depends on what’s going on between the ears as much as what’s going on in your mouth in the moment.  I’m not making apologies for the earlier review.  But that was then and this is now.  In any event, this is worthy of further consideration (e.g. drinking, slurping, lapping and licking). 

As befits this post, and in honor of the fact that we did not become Texas Toast on that Summer night in 1975, predictably, I give you a recipe for Texas Toast– OK, it’s just really good garlic bread.  As Cookie says in the movie, City Slickers:

You ain’t gonna get any nouveau, amandine, thin crust, bottled water, sautéed city food.  Food’s brown, hot, and plenty of it.

Texas Toast

Serves:
12 to 15 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 cloves garlic, pureed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 loaves good white bread, cut into 1-inch thick slices

Directions

Mix together the butter and garlic in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Brush both sides of the bread with the butter and place on the grill. Grill the bread for 1 to 2 minutes per side until lightly golden brown.

Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay and the Food Network

While I don’t hate Texas, I have a respectful, and quite rational, fear of the place.  I have been back since then– almost getting into a road-rage-paint-swapping-fist- fight in Houston once (I was a passenger that time as well).  So when visiting the Lone Star State, here are a few simple survival rules to consider: 

  1. Like they say, “Don’t mess with Texas.” 
  2. But if Texas wants to mess with, pray that she will be gentle.
  3. If instructed, at gunpoint, to put your hands up– do so.
  4. Always, “Remember the Alamo!”
  5. Drive yourself, but take it slowly over some of those dangerous curves, regardless of the form they may take.  Giddy-up!

The little guy in the photo at the top of this page doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  No-Guilt Wednesday (NGW) is not about compromising on quality.  It’s all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank ($15 or less), eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.

Posted March 20, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

NGW: Trimbach Riesling 2008   5 comments

One of the things that I have promised myself is to be more open to Alsatian and German wines this year.  I’m not a resolution making kind of guy, but if I were, this is a resolution that I could live with. 

We enjoyed this with a grilled swordfish dish from fellow blogger, Razel Rull-Navarro of Food Safari (http://rgrull.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/grilled-swordfish-steaks-with-baked-chantenay-carrots/)

Do yourself a favor and make the swordfish.  Also make the carrots that she recommends with it.  I tossed and roasted the carrots with some fingerling potatoes and served it all on a luxurious bed of Stir-Fried Bok Choy.  Anyway, check out Razel’s blog.  Simple, delicious cuisine.  You go, Girl! 

As always– get the freshest fish possible.  This is not the place to skimp.  On my first pass though the Supermercado, I spotted some, but it looked like it might be a little too dry.  I asked if it was fresh.  Of course came back the answer– came in this morning!  Great, I thought and then asked her if I could smell the sucker.  I know this sounds obnoxious, but the fish counter server may lie to me, but my nose does not.  If it smells like fish, walk away.  I passed the swordfish back to her and strolled away.  To quote a Malaysian friend of mine, “In God We Trust, In Man We Check.”

Still, I was having a swordfish craving and off to the pricey fish monger I went.  For $20 a pound, I had secured the evening’s main course.  It smelled of the ocean and I watched as they cut a beautiful 2 pound steak for me.  Not cheap– but well worth it.  It’s a good thing I saved some money on the wine.

Riesling TrimbachTrimbach Riesling 2008 ($12).  Today’s wine from Alsace, will not be to everyone’s liking.  In fact, I was not so sure its style was to my liking– at least initially.  And yet, it grew on me with each passing sip.  Bone dry.  As it warmed, it softened and as a  food wine, with acidity aplenty, it played well against the grilled swordfish that found its way onto my dinner plate.  It also sang a beautiful duet on another night with some grilled salmon.  I just kept going back to the bottle for more sips.  Rated **1/2

 

 

Stir-Fried Bok Choy

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Bok Choy wash and cut into coarse pieces
  • 2 Tbsps. Peanut Oil

For Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsps. Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Nam Pla (Fish Sauce)
  • 2 Tbsps. Mirin (sweetened sake)
  • 2 Tbsps Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp. Garlic Chili Paste

Procedure

  1. Combine all sauce ingredients in a non-reactive bowl (glass or ceramic is preferable).  Taste for flavor and adjust seasonings to your personal liking.
  2. Heat up a wok and add peanut oil and just as it starts to smoke, add Bok Choy and stir fry for 3 to 5 minutes 
  3. Add enough of the sauce to flavor the cooked Bok Choy being careful not to drown it. 
  4. Cook off some of the liquid and taste Bok Choy for flavor. 
  5. Plate and serve with the Food Safari Swordfish

© Sybarite Sauvage

The little guy in the photo at the top of this page doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  No-Guilt Wednesday (NGW) is not about compromising on quality.  It’s all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank ($15 or less), eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.

Posted March 13, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

Serradenari Barbera d’Alba (2006)   Leave a comment

The Serradenari Estate

Legend has it that the Serradenari farmhouse was purchased by the current owner’s ancestors as a sort of Bachelor pad— a place where great-great-grandpa and a couple of his mates could quietly provide romantic diversions to some of the local lasses.  My guess is that if the wine was as good then as it is now, then  the idea of an afternoon “guiding” a fine young lady down the slippery slope of flesh-bound weakness in a secluded farmhouse would not have been such a tough sell. 

So while I picked up three bots, once Ms. R and I opened this, we quickly came to the realization that we should have taken at least six.  I have to admit that I love it when her eyes light up on the first sniff of a bottle of a new wine we haven’t tried before.  All I need now is a secluded farmhouse… 

Map of Piemonte (Piedmont) and Alba

Needless to say my wine guy was really happy to hear from me…again  While we are not likely to run out of wine in this house anytime soon, an extra bottle or two of this particular one wouldn’t hurt to have around.  Most of the Barberas we have had are from Asti.  This one from just next door in Alba took us by surprise.  Deeper in sentiment than many a Barbera, it just seems to have a stronger more self-assured sense of self than others we have tried.  With almost 6 years of age, this wine is really just starting to come into its own.

Serradenari Barbera d’Alba 2006 ($18).  A perfume of earth and sweet spice.  I nearly stroked out from the black olive coupling with bursting red fruit berries in my mouth.  Finely structured tannins from the oak treatment and that characteristic Barbera acidity.  A rich and long finish.  I don’t need to say more.  In fact, I can’t say more, I’ve got too much of a party going on in my boca.  Rated ***

Posted March 12, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

NGW: Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2008   Leave a comment

A couple of weeks ago, I heard from an old friend that I see about 3 or 4 times a year.  When Ms. R and I get together with him and his wife, there is usually too much wine.  Usually it’s him and me doing most of the damage.  Of course, at the beginning of the evening, there is no such thing as “too much”.  At the end of the evening, there is no such thing– even as we commit acts outside of the established limits of stupidity.  One more bottle?  SURE!  During our last drinkathon, we popped open a bottle of this week’s NGW wine.  He paid over $20 for this– at least that’s what he said, though when I quizzed him about that he said all that he remembered from that night was that he went to bed and awoke in a Spitzerian state of inebriation wearing only his socks the following morning. (For the benefit of our non-New York readers– Eliot Spitzer, former governor of New York State, apparently did not remove his socks during his liaisons with prostitutes). 

$20+ is a fair price for this wine.  Guess what I think about it at $15?  Sometimes, you just have to shop around for the good stuff.  And, for the record, I’m not thinking about a Spitzerian shopping spree.  Eliot, Eliot, Eliot– you’re no Berlusconi. It’s uncanny, but once caught with their hands in the cookie jar (“She said her name was Cookie”), it looks like both of these politicos went to the same source for contrition coaching.  How else to explain that funny expression, almost like a cat that is trying to keep down that bird it just swallowed. 

Burlusconi and Ruby

Spitzer and Spouse

But we have gone far afield from this NGW post.  Fun though that detour may have been, we now return to our regularly scheduled programming.  And with Silvio Burlusconi as our inspiration, we turn to an Italian wine, a classic Italian pasta and if you execute these first two properly a private little Bunga-Bunga party.

Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2008 ($15).  A blend of Corvina and Rondinella with some Sangiovese thrown in for good measure.  A whiff of cherry pie.  Is that a touch of plum, too?  Nah, that’s just the little voice in my head, or is that an imaginary friend?  Savory red fruit notes mixed with sumptuous ripe blackberry.  Supple tannins and just enough acidity to say this is just a beautifully balanced wine.  Is that my imaginary friend speaking again?  Perhaps.  Here’s what I say– find this and you will not be disappointed.  I’m not imagining that.  Rated **1/2

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe.  Today, we get back to that.  This is a traditional Roman dish that could only have been born in a place like Rome.  Imagine Marco Polo returning from the Orient with this strange new spice, pepper.  Imagine a local chef getting his hands on this new stuff and combining it with the traditional ingredients found in Rome– Pecorino, butter, and spaghetti.  Imagine we call this Cacio e Pepe (literally Cheese and Pepper).  I’m making this history up as I go along, but it’s plausible, no?

Plausible?  Perhaps, but actually, no.  Marco Polo was born in the 13th Century whereas it seems pepper has been around Rome since at least as early as 40 B.C.  Around 77 C.E. Pliny the Elder (I have always wanted to quote him) complained: 

It is quite surprising that the use of pepper has come so much into fashion, seeing that in other substances which we use, it is sometimes their sweetness, and sometimes their appearance that has attracted our notice; whereas, pepper has nothing in it that can plead as a recommendation to either fruit or berry, its only desirable quality being a certain pungency; and yet it is for this that we import it all the way from India! Who was the first to make trial of it as an article of food? and who, I wonder, was the man that was not content to prepare himself by hunger only for the satisfying of a greedy appetite?  Both pepper and ginger grow wild in their respective countries, and yet here we buy them by weight—just as if they were so much gold or silver.[The Natural History, 12:14]

No Cacio e Pepe for Pliny!

Romans have been eating this stuff since forever and there are probably hundreds or thousands of variations of this dish.  But I enjoyed it so well, I couldn’t resist posting it up here.  The ingredients are the definition of simplicity and elegance.  Oh yeah, one more thing, skip the bread and butter unless you’re wanting to have people stare at your arse for all the wrong reasons.  

Cacio e Pepe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of coarsely grated Parmesano Reggiano (for the Parmesan bowls)
  • 16 oz. spaghetti (Fresh pasta is better.  Dried will, however do just fine.)
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
  • 1 tbsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup finely grated Pecorino

Preparation

Ahead of time: Prepare the Parmesan Bowls.  Place 1/3 cup of grated Parmesano to a hot nonstick pan and cook till it bubbles.  Remove from heat and when cool enough to handle peel from the nonstick pan and drape over the outside of a bowl used as a mold to create a an edible parmesan bowl.  This can also be done ahead of time.  Makes 6 bowls.

  1. Bring 6 quarts water to a boil.  Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until firm but not quite al dente. Drain, reserving 2-3 cups pasta cooking water.
  2. Melt the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute. 
  3. Add 1 1/2 cups reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. 
  4. Reduce heat to low and add Pecorino Romano and pasta, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted.
  5. Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.
  6. Transfer pasta to Parmesano bowls, sprinkle with some more Pecorino and serve.

Serves 4-6

© Sybarite Sauvage

Unlike the other two guys pictured on this page, the little guy in the photo at the top of this page doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  No-Guilt Wednesday (NGW) is not about compromising on quality.  It’s all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank ($15 or less), eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.

Posted March 6, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday