Intro

5392533706_379ecf0049_b

We got engaged in Rome. I had been living in Italy for 5 months when Gabe flew in to meet me in Rome for the weekend.

I knew the ring was coming. Maybe it was because I had designed it before I left for Italy to study art history or maybe it was because the week before the proposal I had talked to my dad on the phone who informed me, “When you come home you won’t have a boyfriend.”

“Excuse me?!” I said, panicking as if he knew Gabe was calling it quits.

Sensing my hysteria my dad continued, “You won’t have a boyfriend, you’ll have a fiance.” My heart skipped a beat and I immediately went out and bought an Italian wedding magazine.

Gabe arrived in Rome tired, hungry and to a girlfriend who was eager to get a diamond on her finger.

He didn’t ask me the first night. We were only going to be in Rome for two nights before heading back to Orvieto, where I had been studying and I knew I wanted to be engaged in Rome as I had fallen as madly in love with that city as I had with Gabe.

5392538546_8ce7834b6d_b

We shared an incredible dinner on the second night complete with a red and white checked table cloth, acqua con gas and the house red. The only thing that would have made that dinner better is if our lips would have met as we each sat gazing at one another while simultaneously enjoying the same spaghetti noodle. But life can’t always be like it is in the movies.

After dinner we set out for an evening passeggiata (stroll), hand in hand, only releasing our grasp to enjoy our gelati.

We continued on our walk. The only thought I had was, where do I want to get engaged? We walked to the Pantheon but the crowd was too big and I didn’t want to cause a scene. I made up some excuse for why I didn’t think we should stop there and continued to take the lead as we headed through the bustling night streets towards the Spanish Steps. Meanwhile, my sweet, jet-lagged boyfriend was nervous as all get out and clueless that his girlfriend was mapping out the exact location where she wanted to have this spontaneous romantic moment.

5391937207_f6b0ebfe97_b

Near the top and to the left of the steps just in the shadows of where Keats sat and wrote some of his most famous Romantic poems, Gabe got down on one knee. It was then that it really hit me. This is who I am choosing to spend the rest of my life with. I was young, naive and yet managed to make the one of the best decisions of my life.

“Yes.”

We were immediately interrupted by a young Italian boy who caught us in the perfect moment to hand off some of the red roses he was selling. Gabe hurriedly bought one so the vendor could let us revel in our moment. Just us. My ring. The rose. And the steps.

Eight years later and I find myself snuggled up next to my husband on the couch, having just put our three kids to bed, watching Anthony Bourdain eating in Rome. “Let’s move to Rome.” I say longingly as I watch Anthony sensually eating what looks like the most amazing pasta dish I’ve ever seen.

Cacio e Pepe.  A dish so loved by Anthony that he vows never to disclose the location of the restaurant. He refers to it as “Restaurant X”. I want to find Restaurant X. But until that time I decided to make my own Cacio e Pepe.

5391942573_d405af6276_b

Essentially is it spaghetti noodles with Pecorino and pepper. That’s it. Well, there’s butter too and Restaurant X serves there’s in a Parmesan Frico bowl (baked Parmesan) so that’s how I intended to make it.

5393631408_2edecab528_b

Simplicity is both painfully hard yet overwhelmingly beautiful. The hard part about this dish is making sure to acquire the best ingredients possible as there are only three. What these three ingredients do in combination with one another creates a full sympathy of flavor with a little orchestra. Salty and nutty, spicy and perfectly buttery. What it lacks in visual appeal it makes up for in savory perfection.

5392545690_c336973ba5_b

Our little family of five made a day of gathering our ingredients for mommy and daddy’s date night. We ate our way through Pike Place as we collected our butter, Pecorino and European pepper from Penzey’s. I taught Baron about Bucatini while we selected our cheese. Gabe, Roman and Ivy waited for us while enjoying the mini donuts at Daily Dozen.

During our first trip to Italy Gabe and I made a pact to each other to return for our 10th anniversary. At the time that seemed centuries away. We would be old and gray by that point. It’s 3 years away. Until then we’ll eat like Romans.

5393034189_75379f8284_b

Menu

Prosecco
Baguette
Cacio e Pepe
Fennel, radish and apple salad
Baci

5393595944_5cc94c0639_b

To ensure a timely dinner…
Make the baguette dough up to 3 days in advance. (Of course you could buy it instead)
Day of date:
5:00 start chilling the Prosecco
5:30 feed the kidlets dinner then start shaping the baguettes while they’re entertained – hurry!
6:30 Pre-heat the oven to 450*
6:32 Open Prosecco and pour yourself a glass.
7:00 Put baguette in the oven, feed baby then tuck her into bed. Meanwhile daddy reads and tucks thing 1 and thing 2 in.
7:30 Pull baguettes out of the oven. Start the pasta water. Prepare the Parmesan bowls. Remind kidlets that it’s bedtime and it’s time to be quiet.
7:47 Pour second glass of Prosecco.
8:00 Thinly slice fennel, radish and apple for salad. Drizzle on olive oil, salt and a touch of lemon juice. Add some parsley leaves.
8:10 Finish the pasta and serve.
8:15 Sit down. Pour third glass. Enjoy the company of husband.
9:00 Baci, the chocolate kind and the not chocolate kind.

5391941065_e4bafd236c_b

Cacio e Pepe

10 oz Bucatini or Spaghetti noodles
3 Tbl butter
½ cup reserved pasta water
2 tsp pepper (more or less depending on how spicy you want it)
3 ½ oz Pecorino Romano, finely grated (about 1 cup)

Boil your pasta until perfectly al dente in water that tastes of the sea (heavily salted).
In a large saute pan add your butter and half of the pepper. Melt the butter and let the pepper infuse a bit. When spaghetti is done, add a bit of the cooking liquid to your melted butter and pepper and swirl the pan to combine.  Turn heat down to low. Add the pasta and toss. Sprinkle in half of the cheese and toss to combine. Plate the pasta in your parmesan bowls then sprinkle each serving with more pepper and cheese.

5392539724_4bfdc41e86_b

Parmesan Frico

¾ cup (roughly) finely grated Parmesan

In a small non-stick saute pan cover the bottom with a layer of Parmesan. Wait a couple minutes for the cheese to melt and turn golden brown. Carefully remove the cheese from the pan and place over a small inverted bowl or cup so that it takes on the shape of the bowl. Cool for 30 seconds then remove.
These can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container.

Enter your email address: Delivered by FeedBurner

 

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe

10 oz Bucatini or Spaghetti noodles
3 Tbl butter
½ cup reserved pasta water
2 tsp pepper (more or less depending on how spicy you want it)
3 ½ oz Pecorino Romano, finely grated (about 1 cup)

Boil your pasta until perfectly al dente in water that tastes of the sea (heavily salted).
In a large saute pan add your butter and half of the pepper. Melt the butter and let the pepper infuse a bit. When spaghetti is done, add a bit of the cooking liquid to your melted butter and pepper and swirl the pan to combine.  Turn heat down to low. Add the pasta and toss. Sprinkle in half of the cheese and toss to combine. Plate the pasta in your parmesan bowls then sprinkle each serving with more pepper and cheese.

36 Responses to “dating my husband”

  1. Anna

    Lovely story! I would absolutely love to go back to Italy.

    My husband and I are planning to make dinner together on Sunday and we were thinking of something Italian. This looks great, thanks for the inspiration.

    Reply
  2. Sara

    oh i’ve always wanted to make a parm bowl – thanks for the directions! Such a sweet story and I love the pasta in action picture – you two are a great team.

    Reply
  3. Nicole

    I am now curious to know how he reacted to you knowing the whole time :) I remember how nervous my husband was, too. Adorable. Pasta in a Parmesan bowl sounds fantastic!

    Reply
  4. The Fromagette

    I’m a big fan of this classic pasta!! Amazing how a few perfect ingredients come together…and for those who don’t think they are fond of pepper – give it a try anyway, you may surprise yourself!!!

    Reply
  5. Julie

    I love your story, it made me (a non-romantic) feel warm and fuzzy, a rare thing indeed.

    Your photos are beautiful simple but very elegant like the dish itself.

    Reply
  6. Hanna

    What a lovely personal story! And the menu seems great. You made long for going to Rome, as I haven’t yet been. It sounds magical there :)

    Reply
  7. Hande

    What a nice story! I live in Rome and know the real name of Restaurant X (it is actually just a trattoria). If you come (in 3 years?) I’ll take you there!

    Reply
  8. MG Atwood

    mmmm makes my mouth water! I have used parmesan cups for salad, but never pasta…that I will have to try! Italy is always on my mind..a visit would be perfect. Hope you make it in 3 years.

    Reply
  9. Brooke @ Plum Pie

    What a beautiful story! I just love this post. And it is so important to keep dating after you get married. Beautiful! And the dinner looks spectacular as well!

    Reply
  10. Susan

    Ashley, thank you for sharing your lovely story as well as the recipe. My husband and I will celebrate our 5th anniversary this month (having been engaged for 12 years) and I think I’ll make the Cacio e Pepe for us. It sounds perfect.
    Congratulations to you both.

    Reply
  11. Crystal Malek

    Oh yum. Ashley, you cross my mind every Saturday night when we’re getting our date night started and I’ve told your story to numerous people. Everyone loves the idea. It’s certainly becoming the highlight of our very busy, chaotic and crazy week. Continue sharing because lots of people are listening.

    Reply
  12. Katie

    I love your style of writing – it makes me smile. And I want to find Restaurant X too! We should form an elite club and buy telescopes and watch reruns of Bourdain and scour the globe until we find it.
    Daydreaming aside I love your blog – glad to have you on my reader!

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Katie – Thanks for the kind compliment. After I wrote this someone sent me the link to the restaurant!! I asked her how she found out – she said she googled it. haha. Good ol’ google.

      Reply
  13. kathleen

    beautifully written, my family and i are now moving to rome. haha i wish! but really, this would be a great valentines “date”!

    Reply
  14. heather

    I swooned all the way through your enchanting story. Haven’t made it to Italy yet, but I wish very much for my fiancée and I to get there someday. While we wait, we’re enjoying Prosecco and cacio e pepe (plus many other traditional, homemade pastas). Have been meaning to try frico also, as a topping for soup — might have to splurge on a topping for pasta tomorrow!

    Cheers,

    *Heather*

    Reply
  15. Brenda

    Hi Ashley…read this while on our family vacation in Hawaii. So touching. Hold onto those memories and keep creating more. Life is fragile. Enjoyed your story.

    Reply
  16. Jenna

    This is so inspiring. Since we had our baby I think I haven’t doted on my husband much – Friday I am going to make this meal and make it special! Thanks for the help!

    Reply
  17. Camila

    Lovely story! Absolutely beautiful! Congrats, cause it seems you have the perfect recipe for happiness and for dinner.
    Loved your website!!
    Greetings from Chile ;)

    Reply

Post a Comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>