Not being cable subscribers, we were a few months late in seeing The Layover: Philly, until it finally dawned on us that we could ask Tom’s brother to record it for us. Happily, he did, and when we went to his house to watch it, he first had us watch The Layover: Rome to get a feel for Bourdain’s style. This turned out to be a great decision, not only to properly warm us up for the Philadelphia episode (which we enjoyed), but also to introduce us to a dish prominently featured in the Rome episode: Cacio e Pepe.
This Cacio e Pepe recipe is possibly the best combination of simple, quick, and delicious that we’ve come upon in recent memory. Pretty much just 3 ingredients; how can it be so good??? Butter, crushed black pepper, and cheese, with pasta. Boom. This might even replace our laziest comfort meal (canned San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, pasta). It’s the ultimate in our home cooking mantra, “simple goodness.”
What makes this even better is good quality ingredients from local sources. We got the fettuccine noodles and parmesan cheese from Di Bruno Bros and the pecorino cheese from Garces Trading Company. Whole mixed peppercorns came from The Spice Corner in the Italian Market, and our fresh butter usually comes from Pumpkin Market.
This has turned into something that is especially perfect for nights when we have to work late and have little energy for cooking. It’s easy enough to put together when we’re tired, as the only prep required is to grind the pepper and grate the cheese, and the whole thing only takes about 15 minutes at most, depending on the cooking time of the pasta. Having such an easy recipe on hand also keeps us from doing something less healthy, like eating out or heating up prepared foods. Unfortunately it’s so good, there are never any leftovers!