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A Roman Feast at Home {Featuring Bucatini All’Amatriciana}

Back in September, while traveling in Italy, I wrote up an ambitious Roman Party menu as part of one of the Project Food Blog challenges. While I conducted extensive research to come up with this menu, I unfortunately didn’t have the chance to cook it in Rome, being too limited in both space and tools in my small Trastevere apartment and also lacking the requisite friends to invite. When I returned home, my suitcase was full of delicious souvenirs I wanted to share with my friends, but I waited for the just the right occasion to invite everybody over and cook my Roman feast dinner party menu.

My table for the Roman Dinner Party

A Roman Dinner Party

Welcome cocktail: Limoncello

Antipasti
Platter: Pecorino-Romano and Honey, Aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, Roasted Figs, Fig “Salami” & Fennel-Scented Salami.
To Drink: Champagne for the birthday girl

Classic Bruschetta & Grilled Lemon Shrimp on Arugula
To Drink: Folonari Pinot Grigio 2009

Primi Piatti
Cacio e Pepe
Bucatini All’Amatriciana
To Drink: Masi Modellissimo

Secondi Piatti & Contorni
Involtini Alla Romana
Spinach Salad with Crisp Pancetta
Zucchine a ‘Scapece
To Drink: Allegrini Valpolicella 2009

Dolce
Dark Chocolate Gelato
Fresh Raspberries
To Drink: Vinsanto del Chianti Classico, Vignamaggio, 2000

The Roman dinner party menu

The Roman dinner party table and the delicious bottle of Vinsanto Del Chianti Classico by Vignamaggio we had for dessert

One of my friends was turning 35 at the end of November, and her boyfriend wanted to make her a surprise party. I volunteered, knowing the birthday girl would love everything on my Roman menu, and I enlisted the help of my friend Lucie to assist me in preparing everything. There would be 11 guests at the table, so we planned everything a week in advance.  I wrote up a shopping list, reserved some time in my schedule to go to the grocery store, and my friend promised to come and cook with me.

Lucie came over the day before the party, and we split up all the tasks between what could be done in advance and what had to be done at the last minute. We ended up doing the bulk of the work during our first afternoon, so when she came back the following day, we only had a few, small last-minute tasks left to take care of. We then had plenty of time to relax, paint our nails, get dressed, and have a drink while we waited for everybody to arrive.

A delicious antipasti platter featuring extra-old parmigiano-reggiano, fennel-scented salami, fig "salami" (figs pressed with spices and nuts), crunchy spicy & sweet pecans, pecorino-romano with honey and oven-roasted figs.
A delicious antipasti platter featuring extra-old parmigiano-reggiano, fennel-scented salami, fig “salami” (figs pressed with spices and nuts), crunchy spicy & sweet pecans, pecorino-romano with honey and oven-roasted figs.

Parmigiano-Reggiano "Stra Vecchio" (extra-old) and Pecorino-Romano

I’m proud to report that the evening was a great success. Over the course of dinner, we asked a couple of people to help us with specific tasks (pouring wine and water and clearing the table after each course), both to allow us to concentrate on service and to prevent the “everybody gets up to help” syndrome. Everything went smoothly, and the evening was a terrific experience for me.

Preparing the grilled lemon shrimp and the plate featuring the classic bruschetta and the shrimp.

Classic Bruschetta and Grilled Lemon Shrimp on Arugula

There was one particular dish that I was very eager to try: the Bucatini All’Amatriciana. First, bucatini pasta are a party to eat in and of themselves: shaped like very long and thin macaroni (imagine a spaghetti with a fine hole in the middle), they are known as the most difficult pasta to eat, because they don’t seem to enjoy cuddling with forks. They curl up and roll off every time you lift up your fork, and they continually threaten to splash the sauce that they’re coated in onto you.and your clothes. Why would you want to eat bucatini? Because they are very popular in Rome, and their coarse nature is precisely what makes them so pleasurable to eat–a great bite and the perfect pasta to host the delicious and legendary Amatriciana sauce.

Bucatini All'Amatriciana

The sauce was the second but most important reason as to why I couldn’t wait to make this dish. Its main ingredient is guanciale, a special and precious variety of cured bacon made from pig cheeks. Back in Rome, I was given a huge chunk of guanciale by a very kind butcher, remember? It was vacuum-packed, so I lovingly carried it back home. I couldn’t wait to taste its promising, luscious flavor in the Amatriciana sauce, which was how the butcher and our guide, Eleanora, said we would best enjoy it.

Well, the recipe delivered, and it alone made my trip worthwhile. The flavor of the sauce was spicy and rich, the guanciale providing a subtle smoked flavor and its fat melting to a creaminess that coated our palates. This is not a recipe to make if you’re on a diet, but why would you be on one while a piece of guanciale is waiting for you in the refrigerator?

Click here for my recipe to make Pasta All’ Amatriciana

Bucatini All'Amatriciana

Buon Appetito!

A sweet ending: White chocolate and pistachio biscotti, dark chocolate gelato and fresh raspberries with a glass of Vinsanto del Chianti Classico.

A sweet ending: White chocolate and pistachio biscotti, dark chocolate gelato and fresh raspberries with a glass of Vinsanto del Chianti Classico.

Yum
Posted by Marie Asselin on • Category: Italy7 Comments

7 Responses to A Roman Feast at Home {Featuring Bucatini All’Amatriciana}

  1. i have made and tried different receipes of amatraciana and prefer it without onions, matter of taste, but the bottom line is it is one of my fav italian meals, along with your bolognese sauce, and tagliatelle a great receipe as i am always trying to make the perfect bolognese, drives my wife crazy but growing up with italians it is a passion.. tks for the grt receipe

  2. Wow that is one luxurious dinner party and I have no doubt your guests enjoyed getting spoiled by such delicious foods. I wish one of my friends would bring loot from Rome and throw me a dinner party! :D I actually never had real guanciale until recently and you're right – it's out of this world. Too bad it's so hard to find. Congrats on your FNJ shoutout! :)

  3. Guanciale is wonderful and your party a stunning success! Congrats. And just so you know, once the pork jowl withdrawls begin you can order a fix online through the Sr. Batali shop in Seatle called Salume. GREG

    • Thanks Greg for the tip! I'll have to look into this but I'm afraid it can be difficult to import this kind of perishable food over in Canada… I can probably find it in Montreal, I'll have to look for it next time I go!

    • It would be a pleasure to have you over, next time you come to Quebec :) I'll be in Paris next week, I'm going to Hélène Darroze for sure! Can't wait to see the city around Christmas time.

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