Cacio e Pepe

This is a simple pasta dish we fell in love with in Rome. Very easy to make in a very short time. You can eat it with a simple salad, side dish for a protein, or just by itself. You should really give this a try. You will be glad you did!

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound spaghetti or bucatini
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • ½ cup grated pecorino romano cheese
  • Salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet until shimmering
  2. Add fresh ground pepper and cook until it is sizzling
  3. Remove from heat
  4. In a large skillet or pot, add pasta and just cover with water
  5. Add salt and cook until just al dente
  6. Remove from heat but do not throw out pasta water
  7. Return skillet with olive oil back to heat
  8. Add butter and 2-3 Tbsp of the pasta water
  9. Add the cooked pasta and the cheese on top
  10. Start shaking the pan and swirling the pasta
  11. Add more pasta water if needed
  12. The oil, butter, starchy water, and cheese will make a creamy sauce
  13. Place on plates or in bowls and drizzle some more olive oil for extra flavor
  14. Add more pepper if you wish
  15. Enjoy!

 

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Roast Sausages and Grapes

This dish is so easy to prepare, just arrange the food on a sheet pan drizzle with olive oil and chianti and shove it into a hot oven.

Roast Sausages with Grapes and Fennel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic
  • Balsamic Drizzle
  • 2 pounds Italian sausage links
  • 1 pound red potatoes or fingerlings
  • 5 to 6 cups stemmed black or red seedless grapes
  • 4 sprigs rosemary, stemmed
  • 2 bulbs fennel, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Chianti wine
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F
  2. Place the sausages on a large sheet tray.
  3. Arrange the grapes, potatoes, rosemary and fennel alongside, not on top of, the sausages.
  4. Drizzle generously with olive oil all over.
  5. Then drizzle chianti and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Roast sausages for 25-30 minutes.
  7. Casings should be brown and crispy and the sausages are cooked through.
  8. Serve with crusty bread.

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Siena and Montepulciano

10/8. After wandering around the campo and Duomo of Siena, we decided to head over to the hill town of Montepulciano. Or rather, we gambled and after using my limited Italian to secure a late dinner reservation at Osteria dell’ Aquacheta, a Rick Steve’s recommendation, we programmed the route into the Opel’s GPS and off we went. Very winding back roads, but made it to the town. These hill towns let you park outside their medieval gates and walk (ok hike) in. Montepulciano is known for a particular type of wine. The town was quaint, and had a fort at the end. Its most amazing feature was the view. Everywhere was a panoramic point, so we took lots of pictures.


Our dinner reservation wasn’t until 9:15, and for those of you who know us well, that’s really, really late for us, so with time to kill, we decided to drive the countryside a bit. Let’s just say dark winding Italian roads, roundabouts with many exits, and rumbling tummies. Returned in time for a wonderful long dinner of Steak! And then a long winding road back to San Gimignano by 3am. Needless to say, taking it easy a bit the next day. One note: Never fail to turn down a little street or you might miss the chocolate shop!

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San Gimignano 10/7

A few of the towers


The wall outside the San Giovanni Porta

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San Gimignano 10/7

After the non stop sightseeing, throngs of people everywhere, and hot humid weather of southern Italy, San Gimignano is literally a breath a fresh air. A late evening thunderstorm brought us and Tuscany into fall. The air is now drier and cooler. However, the sun is lightly warm on our skin and the absolutely stunning Tuscan countryside. From the hill top of the Town of Fine Towers, San Gimignano, we are enjoying a much needed slower pace.


Knock, knock! Let us in.


A couple of towers on Piazza di Cisterna

A couple of views from the top

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Train to Firenze 10/6

Another day, another high speed train. The chaos of Rome Termini.


Into Firenze just long enough to get the car (an Opel), then drove to San Gimignano, via a dirt road and a nice highway. San Gimignano is a medieval hill town that is pedestrian only. We rented a VRBO here, a really nice apartment off the Main Street and Duomo piazza. 


Big thunder cloud dumped torrential rain for about two hours late evening, but we were eating boar and fennel salami and drinking the local wine so we didn’t care AT ALL. Shops galore, selling high quality leather, florentine ceramic dishes and papers. 

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The Appian Way and Villa Borghese

So silly us. “It can’t be that far, let’s walk to the Appian Way and catacombs.” Sure. 5 miles one way. Along the way, we walked by the Circus Maximus, imagining chariot races. Stopped to get a walking breakfast required more Italian than I know, but the shopkeeper was very gracious anyway.  The road was beautiful on this early morning, even if we can’t understand why the Italians rush everywhere. Maybe because they are not on vacation! The tour of the catacombs was wonderful. 12 miles of underground crypts, with 4 levels dating back to the 1st century A. D. Before A.D. people were placed in “Cities of the dead.” Took the bus back to the city because five miles! Then a quick trip up to the garden of eden, or Villa Borghese. Yes, more sculptures! Our doggies were dragging, so after a peep at the Spanish Steps, and quick snaps of the Keats-Shelly House and Casa Byron, stopped to have gelato at Venchi. Delicious! Dragged ourselves back to Trastavere, and are now sprawled on the bed. A very good day.

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