cacio e pepe {and my honeymoon in Italy}

Cacio e Pepe

A month ago I became a Schmidt.  I’ve only legally changed my name with the social security office because there just hasn’t been time for all the other places (DMV, banks, credit cards, ARDC, etc).  I still haven’t totally mastered my new signature.  And just this Wednesday, I signed my old WM initials while signing a lease for a new! bigger! apartment {we move at the end of July and I can’t wait to share our new home with you!}.  But in the past month, I’ve mastered Cacio e Pepe.

Cacio e Pepe

I like to say that cacio e pepe is a grown-up, more nuanced, more Roman mac-n-cheese.  A mere 48 hours about becoming “Whit Whit Schmidt”, we flew to Rome for our honeymoon, with only one day scheduled (a tour of the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s), our trusty Rick Steves guidebooks, and the April 2010 Issue of Saveur.  We stayed on the Via Veneto in a hotel paid for by hotel points, a perk to our Westin-held wedding.

Day 2

We spent 5 days in Rome, seeing the can’t-miss sights (Colosseum, Roman Forum, Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain) and taking the time to people watch in the Piazza Navona and the Borghese Gardens.  We stuffed our faces with cappuccinos, pizza, pasta and gelato. After Rome, we took a train* to Cinque Terre, which is a beautiful cluster of 5 towns in the Italian Riviera.  This was a welcome, relaxing change to our time in Rome.

Day 6

We stayed at a cute little hotel complete with lemon groves, free afternoon batches of pesto, and a comfortable room.  I dipped my toes into the Mediterranean and we hiked the trail connecting all 5 towns, getting pretty dirty and exhausted in the process. That night we rewarded ourselves with big bowls of pasta, mine with mussels, Dave’s with pesto and a round of icy cold Limoncello shots.  It sounds silly to say, but the Cinque Terre towns were almost too perfect in a way that I felt like I was back at Epcot!  Really just so beautiful, relaxing and perfect.  Needless to say, it was a great trip, and I can’t wait to someday get back to Italy.  But thankfully, I have now have cacio e pepe in my cooking arsenal for the meantime.

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe
Recipe adapted from Saveur. Other verisons: Smitten Kitchen & Bon Appetit

1 lb. pasta, traditionally tonnarelli or spaghetti but we also like more forkable shapes like Cavatappi or fusilli so really use whatever you like
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, this is the time to bust out your good bottle
2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper, plus more
to taste
1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano
3⁄4 cup finely grated Cacio de Roma {I found this at Whole Foods but you could also just use parmigiano-reggiano in its place}

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add your pasta of choice and cook until just al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain pasta.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add pepper and cook until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Ladle 3⁄4 cup pasta water into the skillet and bring to a boil. Using tongs, transfer pasta to skillet; spread it evenly. Sprinkle 3⁄4 cup each Pecorino Romano and Cacio de Roma over pasta; toss vigorously to combine until sauce is creamy and clings to the pasta without clumping, about 2 minutes, adding some pasta water if necessary. Transfer to a big bowl or plate and sprinkle with remaining Pecorino and more pepper. Serves 2-4 depending on how hungry you are. The leftovers are pretty decent with just a little water added before microwaving.

You are see all our pictures here.  Or just some of my favorites.

*Pretty funny story with our train trip.  Apparently we traveled by train on a day of a scheduled train strike.  Our train from Rome was VERY crowded which we later realized was because many trains had already been cancelled that morning.  On the way, our train doors got stuck open in Follonica, and we waited about an hour to keep moving forward, only to make it to La Spezia, the transfer town near the Cinque Terre, and have no more trains coming.  After a quite scary 60 Euro cab ride with an older couple from Seattle, we finally made it to Monterosso al Mare.

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4 responses to “cacio e pepe {and my honeymoon in Italy}

  1. I’ve also made the adapted recipe from Bon App and SK – so good, right?! The Amateur Gourmet also did his take on it recently. And yes, I completely agree that it’s a bit like the adult, Roman version of mac ‘n cheese.

    Congrats on the wedding and the beautiful honeymoon! Italy is fantastic – I wish I could make my way there a bit more often.

  2. looks great! My husband and I met in Italy 10 years ago and swore we’d go back for our 5 year wedding anniversary, which was this year. instead, we ended up moving from chicago to san francisco, so the vacay had to wait! looks as gorgeous as i remember ;).

  3. Glad you had a great time, Whitney! Loved seeing the photos, and glad you and Dave made it back in one piece, train strike notwithstanding. This “mac ‘n’ cheese” is definitely more grown up – I’ll have to try it! :)

  4. Gorgeous, gorgeous wedding pix and the honeymoon doesn’t look to bad, either! :) Congrats again!

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