tasting rome recipes cookbook review © Will Travel for Food

Tasting Rome: Fresh flavors and forgotten recipes from an ancient city by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’ve travelled to Italy often in the past few years. Rome is probably my favourite city–or at least it is among the ones I’ve already visited–and I have entertained the fantasy of eventually retiring there. I love the city’s energy, history and people. There are the inevitable grandiose sights, of course, but there are also the smaller surprises around every corner. Those little punctuations in the city’s grid are a constant reminder that Rome has been around for ever, so has its culinary culture. I also thoroughly enjoy Rome’s food and coffee, of course and I can’t recall a bad meal there, not even in those really touristy spots that still manage to dish out a better pizza or pasta plate than a lot of restaurants elsewhere.

tasting rome italian recipe cookbook © Will Travel for Food

Everything you need to make a great cacio e pepe

Tasting Rome: Fresh flavors and forgotten recipes from an ancient city by co-authors Katie Parla and Kristina Gill, also the book’s photographer, is not just a recipe book. It’s filled with tidbits of history and insider information you wouldn’t necessarily have access to if you didn’t have an intimate relationship with Rome. Reading through the book is akin to going on an intimate gastronomic tour of the city and learning about its food history, recipes, markets, produce and neighbourhoods, the touristy ones as well as ones away from the crowds. I’ve been a follower of Katie Parla for a while now and she has given me delicious advice on where to eat in Rome. Her blog and phone app on the best Rome has to offer have been an invaluable help whenever I needed to replenish in the Eternal City. My two usual pasta staples while in Rome are carbonara and cacio e pepe. I eat copious amounts of both and never knew until I read Tasting Rome that both have been around for about a half century only, a relatively short time for Roman cuisine.



tasting rome italian cookbook © Will Travel for Food

Cacio e pepe recipe {photo © Tasting Rome / Kristina Gill}

One of the great meals I’ve had in Rome was at Cesare al Casaletto. Although away from the city’s historic center where most tourists roam, it is the perfect spot for Sunday lunch. Surrounded by families, you can play the part of a Roman for a few hours while leisurely munching on some of the best food in Rome. “Cacio e pepe” means “cheese and pepper” but the Italian word for cheese is formaggio so what does “cacio” mean exactly, I’ve always wondered. It is apparently “the local Roman dialect word for Pecorino Romano, a sheep’s-milk cheese made in the region since ancient times” and one of the main ingredients in this recipe.

I’ve always wanted to make cacio e pepe, which seems so simple. I mean, it’s just 3 ingredients, how hard can it be? The technique is actually a bit tricky and takes practice, but fret not, because those trial runs will be delicious no matter what. I know because I’ve made it 3 times in the past week. Just make sure you prepare it with the best quality ingredients you can get and mix vigorously when you add the pasta to the sauce! Buon appetito!

Serves 4 to 6

Sea salt
1 pound spaghetti or tonnarelli
2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Salt the water. When the salt has dissolved, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 1½ cups of the Pecorino Romano, the pepper, and a small ladle of pasta cooking water. Using the back of a large wooden spoon, mix vigorously and quickly to form a paste.

When the pasta is cooked, use a large strainer to remove it from the cooking water and quickly add it to the sauce in the bowl, keeping the cooking water boiling on the stove. Toss vigorously, adjusting with additional hot water a tablespoon or two at a time as necessary to melt the cheese and obtain a juicy sauce that completely coats the pasta.

Plate and sprinkle each portion with some of the remaining Pecorino Romano and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.



tasting rome cookbook giveaway © Will Travel for Food

Tasting Rome: Fresh flavors and forgotten recipes from an ancient city by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill

This giveaway is exciting because it allows 3 of you to win copies of the book along with some exclusive gifts!

Leave me a comment below telling me what your favourite Italian dish is and I will randomly draw 3 winners among all those who left a comment on April 9th, 2016. I will contact the winners by replying to their comments here on this post. Each of the 3 winners will receive a copy of the book along with a set of photo prints from author Kristina Gill, an illustrated map of Rome by artist Lena Corwin, and a digital recipe book of all exclusive recipes.

Note that this contest is open to residents of the United States and Canada.

Good luck to you all!

For those of you who live in Montreal, Katie Parla will be bringing her Tasting Rome book tour here on April 23rd. She’ll be cooking a lunch “inspired by the flavours of Rome” at Impasto with chef Michele Forgione. Lunch is $60 (before taxes and tip) and that includes a copy of the book. Reservations are essential so make yours today at 514 508 6508.

Recipe and photos reprinted from TASTING ROME: FRESH FLAVORS AND FORGOTTEN RECIPES FROM AN ANCIENT CITY Copyright ©2016 by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Many thanks to Clarkson Potter for providing me with a review copy of this book.

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