Spaghetti Carbonara | First Attempt

pasta, spaghetti, carbonara, bacon, dinner, italian

Spaghetti Carbonara. Creamy. Salty. Perfectly cooked pasta. It was a thing of beauty when I ate it in Trastevere, outside of Roma. So, good that my latest quest is to master it. Or come as close as I can to the inspiration dish. To the internet to read up on different recipes and tips! After reading Mario’s recipe, America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe and the array of takes on The Kitchn, I settled on the “foolproof” option from Chris Kimball and Co. With basket in hand I wandered the three aisles at Trader Joes. I grabbed pecorino and organic spaghetti from whole durum semolina. All the recipes stressed the importance of quality ingredients, especially when there are only four. I wasn’t pleased with the bacon offerings and lack of pancetta, so I walked to TJ’s unknown sister: Aldi. They had thick cut applewood bacon and some salad fixins. Last night’s dinner was of the traveling variety. I hadn’t spent bro time with my buddy in a while and I wanted to test run this dish before serving it for the masses. So I cooked at his place. He had cage free, organic eggs. 20140617-124515-45915128.jpg

They were so fresh the package gave the name of the chicken.

I fully expected one of the eggs to hatch. Step one is to fry up the bacon/pancetta. The quantity of bacon strips was cut off by the printer, so I guessed that the number was a 3. Turns out it was an 8. So my creation was lighter on the salty greatness. 20140617-124514-45914782.jpg While the bacon cooked, I shredded the cheese to combine with the eggs. I also started the half pot of water to boil for the spaghetti. 20140617-124515-45915453.jpg This dish comes down to timing. None of the steps are that time consuming or difficult. ATK’s procedure is a good one to follow as a starting point.

  • Start the bacon.
  • Then the water.
  • Mix the cheese, eggs, salt & pepper.
  • Place pasta in salted water once boiling.
  • Use a spoon to remove the bacon and place on a paper towel to drain some of the fat. Save the fat! (I want a t-shirt that says that.)
  • Reserve a cup of pasta water before draining.
  • Drain pasta.
  • Quickly dump hot spaghetti into egg/cheese/bacon fat/seasoning mixture.
  • Add bacon to bowl.
  • Toss.
  • FEAST!

This dish wasn’t as good as the Italian inspiration dish, but I have some thoughts on the next batch: two whole eggs, two yolks. That may create a texture closer to the original. Or maybe I should just go back for another taste. 20140617-124516-45916255.jpg

When Do You Leave?

travel, translation, italian, iphone, europe

travel, translation, italian, iphone, europe

Every day for the past two weeks I have been asked the same question. I am unsure if my friends and coworkers can’t wait to be rid of me, or if they are as anxious as I am for the grandest adventure of my life. This includes that time I walked across the US/Mexico border and spent the day traipsing around Tijuana.

I have been fortunate to travel domestically (and to Canada and Mexico last year) since college. Most of these trips involved visiting friends in cities I had never seen. Glamorously, this also included crashing on couches or in dorms. When you rarely sleep well at someone’s place, be it a relative or friend, staring at the ceiling on an air mattress or on a couch is irrelevant.

This vacation may signal what psychologists call “adulthood.” A thing that I often avoid at all costs. The trip involves zero couches or air mattresses. It also features seeing some of the world’s greatest art, origins of the modern city and the finest cuisine.

When do I leave, you ask?

The scheduled departure is this Friday evening. The destinations, if you haven’t been subjected to my repeated questions or discussions, are Rome, Florence, Venice and, at long last, Paris.

For the past four to five weeks, I have been researching every travel guide and blog I can find. Rick Steves has become my close personal friend. For one week he accompanied me on my commute, sharing stories on Rome at Night, the best churches, Trastevere and walking through the countless museums that house priceless treasures.

Another few days were comprised of mimicking an “Italian for Travelers” CD my girlfriend picked up. Should I be concerned that all of the hotel dialogue was about the rooms being small and too expensive? I still need to learn how to ask where the library is and what noises Italian animals make.

Then I hit the podcasts and apps. In a true measure of nerdiness (or being curious about the world), I found lectures on the great artists. This lecture from Washington University Professor William E. Wallace was particularly fascinating about Michelangelo as artist, sculptor, foreman and aristocrat. One might call him a renaissance man.

All this crammed research made me wish I took more art and world history classes in college. I realized I would’ve paid a lot more attention if I were going to Rome and Florence at the end of the semester.

I haven’t done as much research on Paris, mais j’espère que les années de français sera de retour à son arrivée à Paris.

This trip will mark the first time I haven’t been in Chicago for my birthday. Instead, I’ll be in the eternal city and Florence. In lieu of buying me a drink this year for my birthday, feel free to send me some euros my way.

Mille grazie et merci bien to my lady friend for agreeing to join on the adventure and to all my jet setter friends who have shared their experiences on places to see, places to skip and reminding me to plan to time to enjoy la dolce vita/la belle vie.

I’ll try to update BachelorBasics with pictures and vignettes when I can. If you want more, follow me on the social channels (links are up top).

No one has asked when I come back. I think they know that I wasn’t kidding when I replied that I wasn’t.

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