This past October I spent three weeks in beautiful Italy! Three weeks was not nearly enough to see all Italy has to offer, but I had a wonderful time soaking it all in. My first stop was Rome. When I wasn’t walking down cobblestone roads, buying candy from street-vendors, lunching in front of the Trevi Fountain, or people-watching while savoring amazing pastas at street-side cafes, I made time to see some historical monuments. Some of my favorite places were:
The Roman Forum
The best meal I had in Rome was at a street-side cafe next to The Pantheon. I had Bucatini all’Amatriciana followed by Tiramisu and Espresso. Bucatini is the regional pasta of Lazio (of which Rome is the capital), it is like a thick spaghetti with a hole going through the middle.
You know how we, in America, can walk into any market and find dozens of pasta shapes? Well, they have all those same shapes in Italy, except each region also has its own pasta shape. So there are even more shapes to choose from! Isn’t that fantastic?
Back to my meal. Bucatini is thicker than spaghetti so it is a little chewier. Amatriciana is a pancetta and tomato sauce. The fatty, salty flavor from the pancetta is really the star of this dish. Think of a basic tomato sauce, but with the flavor of bacon coming through and accented by grated pecorino-romano. Yum yum yum! I can taste it now… I need to recreate this meal, pronto.
Okay, back to writing!
My dessert (of course I had dessert every chance I got!) was tiramisu with espresso. I told this to a few friends while I was still floating on cloud nine from this tiramisu experience: if you go to Italy and just eat tiramisu, your trip will be well worth it!
Espresso-soaked savoiardi enveloped in heavenly whipped mascarpone cream and topped with cocoa powder. It’s okay if you’re drooling, my keyboard is soaked. (Did I say that out loud?) Good thing I’m making tiramisu in a few days for a ladies’ get-together. I could make one for them and one for myself… Hey, don’t judge! You know you would eat a whole pan of tiramisu if it was just sitting there in your fridge, looking beautiful and delicious.
I had tiramisu a few times while in Italy. We made it one day during the Amalfi Coast culinary tour and I had four servings, it was so delicious!
My week in Rome was a week well spent. Again, not nearly enough time, but a good time. I can’t wait to go back and see what I missed. You can view the rest of my Rome photos on my Flickr.
Recipe adapted from the kitchen of Antonella Luca, from the Amalfi Coast Culinary Tour.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 thick pancetta slices, chopped
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 (28 ounce) can chopped or crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 pound bucatini pasta*
- Grated Pecorino-Romano cheese, for serving**
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 8 oz mascarpone cheese
- 2 tablespoons marsala wine*
- 1 cup of strong coffee, brewed and chilled to room temperature
- 24 savoiardi (ladyfingers) or one sponge cake**
- Cocoa powder
- Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat, add pancetta and cook until crisp.
- Add onion and garlic to pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent.
- Stir in tomatoes (and juice from can), crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
- Reduce heat to low, and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened. About ten minutes.
- While the sauce thickens, cook pasta according to package directions.
- Drain pasta and add it to the sauce. Sprinkle with freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese.
- *Thick spaghetti can be substituted for bucatini
- **Parmesan cheese can be substituted for Pecorino-Romano
- With an electric mixer, beat whipping cream and confectioners sugar until soft peaks form. Chill until ready to use.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until pale and thick.
- Beat in mascarpone and marsala until just combined.
- Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture.
- In a 9x13 pan, pour a thin layer of cream.
- If using ladyfingers, dip them in the espresso and then make a single layer on top of the cream. If using pound cake, make a single layer on top of the cream and then spoon the espresso onto the sponge cake.
- Cover with half the cream mixture, and sift cocoa powder on top.
- Repeat with another layer of ladyfingers, coffee, the remaining cream, and cocoa powder.
- Cover, chill in refrigerator at least six hours, or overnight.***
- Serve cold, with espresso.
- *If you prefer not to cook with alcohol, you can omit the marsala.
- **Ladyfingers are little sponge cakes with a crisp crust. If you can't find them, store-bought or homemade sponge cake is an acceptable alternative.
- ***The longer this chills, the longer the ingredients have to marry, and the better it tastes. You can make this in the morning if you plan on serving it in the evening and it will taste great, but it will taste even better the next day.