Cacio e Pepe – A dish that literally translates into “cheese and pepper” was a foreign word in our culinary palate till a recent trip to Rome. A cousin of a dear friend, a Roman who we had never met picked us up at our hotel and announced that she was taking us to a Trattoria, a family run restaurant frequented only by locals.
The place “Li Scalini De Marisa” was tucked away in a residential area and was packed. Right away, our hostess insisted that a visit to Rome would be incomplete without trying Cacio e Pepe. We consented and as the dish appeared, our thoughts were, “What’s the big deal? It seems to be spaghetti with some cheese and pepper.” That was before we had our first bite. And we were in culinary heaven. The pasta cooked just right, the cheese lovingly embracing each strand with the perfect seasoning of freshly cracked pepper. Could something this simple be so divine?
Passionate about trying out recipes in my own kitchen, I thought it would be a simple task to recreate such an “easy” dish back home. But success was elusive. It did not achieve the magic of that night in Rome.
That was until we ended up in Eataly in NYC….the everything Italian can be savored under one roof concept by Batali and Bastianich. With an Italian from Milan for company, we decided to order the Cacio e Pepe, expecting it to be a far cry from our Roman experience. And Eataly did not disappoint. The Cacio e Pepe was an almost exact rendition of our Roman plate…..the pasta cooked to perfection, the cheese coating each strand perfectly and the pepper oh so freshly cracked.
As a foodie, nothing makes me happier than a great meal and the fact that I can now just head to the city any time and grab a perfect dish of Cacio e Pepe and be transported back to that magical night in Rome makes me smile.
Who? Have a beautiful day to spare? Love to be outdoors? Love to walk and take in the surroundings? Ready for adventure?
What? Circumnavigating Manhattan island should be on your MUST-DO experiences.
How? Grab a healthy breakfast, don a good pair of walking shoes, organize some good tunes, get someone you love to spend time with and head to Battery Park to start your 32 mile walk along the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. Depending on your speed, how many stops you take to refuel or simply take in the views or relax, the walk can take you from 8-10 hours.
Why? At the end of the day, you will feel exhilarated and triumphant for experiencing NYC in a way that only a small fraction of people have.
To learn more about doing this trip, read the article that got us inspired!
This leg of the High Line feels like a living frame of some delusional surrealist film. It’s just so strange. Barely visible railroad tracks squash the fledgling green life below them. The rails are prison bars, the grass their victims. Above the ground looms a high-rise with clean glass windows and clean glass doors. It stands like a man on Wall Street, erect in a black designer tux that’s too elaborate, too expensive, too out of place. This sight is a collage of hideously misplaced magazine cutouts. Shattered windows against sleek new buildings, black gravel and trash against spotless paths, fading graffiti art against blocks of new concrete. But in the midst of the woefully incoherent setting is a symbol of redemption. It is a man shaving ice. Inhale, shovel, exhale. Inhale, shovel, exhale. The block of frozen water hides his torso. Only his face and working hand are visible. He is calm, at total peace. Every nerve on his face is relaxed, every ounce of taxing effort his block of ice demands dissolves in his serenity. At first, his presence is almost as displaced as the concrete jungle this High Line has become. He is too human, too real to be standing against such a plastic backdrop. But that very authenticity is what makes the rest of the atmosphere bearable. The contentment on the man’s face is a small but powerful beacon of hope. The broken windows and scattered rails no longer feel like disturbing memories of what was once a beautiful past. The man is still smiling. Everything is in its right place, part of an endless cycle of construction and destruction. Because, no matter how much the urban monster kills the monuments of the past, no matter what knocks down beauty and brings up concrete walls of gray, the man’s face will always be at ease. His art is his spirit, his spirit is eternal.