Cacio e Pepe: Cravings or Lupo Verde

I”m so excited to be writing my first post!  If you ever want to know why I decided to blog my cooking/eating adventures you can read it here.  Almost as excited as the prospect of eating Cacio e Pepe for dinner.  I first came across this dish last spring, traveling around Italy.  We came across a bustling restaurant in Trastevere, Rome whose most popular dish according to our server was their Cacio e Pepe.  Now I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, where the restaurant was, or basically anything else that was on the menu.  That’s how mind blowing this dish was.  Before Cacio e Pepe slurped it’s way into my life, I had a severe cheese aversion.  Now I sneak slices of Parmesano Reggiano as “snacks” throughout the day.  That’s how life altering Cacio e Pepe is for me.

The first recipe is from Chrissy Tiegen’s newest endeavour, Cravings.   I’ve been looking forward to this book for quite awhile now.  Mostly because Chrissy Teigen is the supermodel that you envy but would love to be BFFs with.   Mind you however, Cravings is not for those hoping to learn Teigen’s bombshell bod secrets.  It’s exactly as it is titled: it’s all about craving those delicious foods that really hit the spot.  The photos are nothing short of beautiful and mouth watering.  The recipes are rich and decadent, to a point in which I find myself constantly saying “I want to try that”.  As soon as I saw a recipe for Cacio e Pepe I asked my boyfriend if he was in the mood for the dish tonight and was answered with an unfaltering “of course”.CRAVINGS_ChrissyTeigen_highres.0

Slight disclaimer though, we decided to make our on pasta from scratch.  Part of our time in Italy was spent learning to cook and soaking up the culinary culture.  Since then, whenever we have pasta we try to make fresh noodles if we have the time.

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The recipe itself was simple and straightforward.  The ingredients are easy to find and the instructions were clear and concise.  The predicted cook time is pretty accurate to the actual cook time (sans pasta making).  The results were incredible.  Chrissy adds fresh lemon juice giving the dish a lighter feel (regardless of the TONS of delicious Parmesano Reggiano I grated on to my noodles) and the mixed greens added some depth both in flavor and aesthetics.  There was some kick to the dish which was also different from the Cacio e Pepe that I’m used to  but paired nicely with the parmesan cheese.  We devoured our dish within minutes of plating, even sneaking in seconds (guess we won’t need food for lunch tomorrow).  First recipe was a success.

Final product

Final product

Now forgive me for not actually taking a photo of the restaurant take on Cacio e Pepe (rookie mistake I know – I promise it’ll never happen again).  We decided to go to Lupo Verde along the 14th St corridor.  Located in a previous row home, Lupo Verde popped up in the neighborhood two years ago.

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With a great little outdoor seating area that is perfect for people watching, Lupo Verde provides a cozy, rustic Italian atmosphere seating up to 100 people.  There is a bar on each floor of the two story row home and is surrounded by beautiful exposed brick and dim, romantic lighting. The staff are pleasant, even during the insane Saturday dinner rush going on.  We could tell our server was spread too thin but she nevertheless checked in on us regularly and made sure we were always satisfied.

We ordered the Cacio e Pepe.  Decently proportioned, though slightly steep in price.  The dish however fell flat compared to our homemade version.  The pasta was fresh and quite tender.  The taste on the other hand was bland and unimaginative.  Maybe it’s because I prefer my Cacio e Pepe smothered in Parmesan Cheese (and who wouldn’t?), the dish didn’t make me jump up and sing to the pasta gods.  It also lacked in the pepper department and could have used a couple of more turns of the pepper grinder.

To cook it or book it??

Another celebrity cookbook can and will cause eyes to roll but Tiegen’s Cacio e Pepe knocks it out of the park.  Unfortunately, there was no creativity or uniqueness in Lupo Verde’s version.  Easy to make with wonderful results, Cravings brings a fresh, lighter twist to an Italian classic.  When you have to tell your boyfriend to stop picking at the leftovers  you know you have a winner.  This time around, I’d choose to cook it.

Cravings
Author:  Chrissy Teigen
Hardcover: 197 pages
Publisher: ClarksonPotter/Publishers (2016)
Language: English
ISBN-ebook:9781101903926

 

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