If you’ve been following my blog, you would know that I’m a huge foodie. Many of the items on my bucket list consist of trying some delicious delicacies in their nation of origin. On the top of the list is try pasta in Italy. On my first trip to Italy (a day trip from the South of France at age 5), I had a newfound obsession with pizza and missed out on filling my pasta fix.
I went back to Italy last Summer and had the chance to try pasta dishes from around the country. First up was Cinque Terre, located in the Liguria region which is the home of pesto. I ordered gnocchi (potato dumplings) with pesto, which was very different from the pesto back in Canada. There was definitely a lot less salt than the pasta in Italy, but it was still delicious. I managed to snag a few jars of pesto to bring back as gifts.
Next up was Florence, which is famous for its pasta dishes with mushrooms. Surprisingly enough, I had the most amazing salmon linguine in a cream sauce. If I were to go back, I’d want to try tortellini or ravioli in Tuscany.
Rome was the next destination, and this is was a game changer for pasta. Rome has a plethora of famous pasta dishes; two of my favourite were Carbonara & Cacio e Pepe. Both are spaghetti type pasta; Carbonara with a cream sauce and pancetta, Cacio e Pepe with Pecorino cheese and freshly ground pepper (I like to think of this as a grown-up Mac ‘n Cheese). It was clear that the quality of these pastas was much higher than what I was used to back home. The noodles were clearly homemade and cooked Al Dente (when the pasta is on the firmer side).
One of my favourite restaurants in Rome came by recommendation of my father, and has the most amazing Carbonara. Roscioli’s is a gourmet deli and restaurant located and a definite must for a trip to Rome. I’d recommend the Carbonara; the pancetta was unlike anything I’ve tasted in Canada.
I tried making Cacio e Pepe when I was back home in Canada, thinking that it would be easy as it only has a few simple ingredients. That was not the case. The sauce is made from mixing melted cheese and water. Most recipes will tell you to add water until it reaches the desired consistency. You have to add just the right amount of water so the sauce will be able to evenly coat the noodles, but add too much and the sauce will be tasteless.
Although pasta is delicious in Italy, you still have to do some research when dining out. Restaurants targeted towards tourists tend to not put a lot of effort into their food. We ended up being tricked into a dining at some of these establishments out of desperation, and I suspect the pasta is not made fresh and they are reheating the food. If you read some reviews on TripAdvisor, this will give you a general idea of the quality of the food.
Let me know if you want to read more about my food adventures!