Foodgasm of the Moment: Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe con fiori di zucca.

Welcome to my favorite traditional Roman pasta: cacio (pecorino cheese) and pepe (pepper). This particular dish is from one of our favorite restaurants, “Cuccurucù,” where they throw in some zucchini flowers for extra flavor (which is why I consider it one of the best in town).

The recipe is simple but delicious, as the star of this dish is the fresh pecorino cheese, a regional favorite. This specialty is one of the three most famous Roman pastas, and we could spend a lifetime trying the various versions at restaurants around the city. Actually, doesn’t sound too bad to me – let the taste-testing continue!

Foodgasm of the Moment: I Paccheri ai Frutti di Mare

I paccheri ai frutti di mare. Mmmmmm.

This week’s Foodgasm comes from the land where food reigns: la Campania, the region which is home to Naples, as well as the ancestors of many of our Italian-American friends.

The culinary tradition in Campania is staggering, so rest assured this won’t be the last time I highlight something from this area. My husband is also originally from here, so we’re down that way at least every couple of months.

This dish is one of my favorite primi (first courses), and is a specialty of the area. This particular beauty was served this past weekend at our niece Emilia’s communion party (along with about six other courses, which I apparently forgot to take pictures of due to food coma – I’ll try to do better next time).

I paccheri are a wide, flat pasta that lend themselves well to this dish; their shape creates a type of pocket for all the ingredients, assuring each bite is as full of deliciousness as the last.

I frutti di mare (seafood) in this case consist of fresh clams and mussels, steamed and prepared in a sauce of fresh cherry tomatoes with extra-virgin olive oil and a touch of hot pepper flakes. When ready, the paccheri are tossed together in a skillet with the sauce, then finished off with a sprinkling of fresh parsley.