Funny and strange coincidences definitely spice up life…don’t you think so, too? Odd things like bumping into an old friend from school a 1000 miles away from home? Or picking up the phone to call somebody – just to find out that this person wanted to give you a call the very same second and is already in the line? The last memorable coincidence led me to a great restaurant experience as well as a touch-up for a classic pasta recipe and started with a little newspaper reading…
As soon as I stumbled onto this article about the best Spaghetti Carbonara at Roscioli in Rome, my need-to-send-link-mechanism kicked in. Our friends Hande and Theo have moved to Rome this year and with both of them being at least as much into good food and cooking as we are, I was quite positive to have some inside intel, a restaurant recommendation at a minimum. Fine, I wasn’t getting my hopes up too high knowing that Hande is never short of culinary tips and secret hideaways. So I almost anticipated an email saying “ha, of course we know Roscioli!”. But I didn’t expect an immediate reply on the same evening, saying that for one they just had dinner at one of their favorite places – Roscioli! And secondly, they were seated at a table right next to Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel. Now how is that for a coincidence?
Needless to say, Hande took us to Roscioli on the first evening of our recent trip to Rome, just after we enjoyed one of her fantastic wine tastings (if you ever visit the Eternal City, do yourself a favor and book one of her wine tastings, you won’t regret it!). At Roscioli, we were especially blown away by the starters, Burrata, Caponata, Insalata di Polpo,… you name it, finger-licking delicious. What got me intrigued though was the pasta, as many of the pasta dishes on their menu stood out by their exotic seasoning and especially the use of different peppercorns. Which, back home, inspired me to spice up my own Carbonara in a similar way – with a fragrant mix consisting of different peppercorns I was able to dig up in my spice box: Cubeb, Sichuan and Rose Pepper. And that’s it, a simple yet exciting twist on an old classic – thank you Roscioli :)
Mix all three different peppercorns and crush them in a mortar as finely as desired.
Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil, then add a very generous pinch of salt. Cook pasta according to package directions. Skim off two to three tablespoons of the cooking water halfway through the cooking process and set aside in a bowl (to let it cool off a bit).
Peel the garlic clove and lightly smash it with the blade of a large knife (it shouldn’t break apart though, just release some more flavor). Finely slice the guanciale. Heat a pan and fry the guanciale together with the garlic over medium heat (no additional fat needed) until most of the fat has rendered and the stripes have gained some color and turned crisp. Discard the garlic as soon as it’s starting to turn brown. Drain the stripes on a paper towel and set aside. Pour the excess fat from the pan into another bowl to let it cool off a bit until further use.
In a bowl beat together the egg yolks and about two thirds of the grated cheese, then add the reserved cooking water (which should have cooled off a bit, otherwise it may cause the eggs to curdle).
Drain the Spaghetti, then toss in a large bowl together with the egg-cheese-mixture and add some of the excess fat. Stir together until the pasta is evenly coated with a smooth and silky film and the cheese has completely melted. Divide onto two plates, then top with the Guanciale stripes, some more grated Pecorino and most importantly: a generous pinch of the ground peppercorn mix. Enjoy immediately!
Recipe source: own creation, Roscioli inspired
Prep time: ~20 minutes
Ingredients (for 2):
1/4 tsp Rose pepper
1/4 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1/4 tsp Cubeb peppercorns
250 g Spaghetti
1 garlic clove
50 - 75 guanciale (or pancetta)
4 very fresh egg yolks
50 - 75 g Pecorino, finely grated (or Parmesan)