Chitarra with Guanciale and Sottocenere al Tartufo
INSPIRATION COMES FROM many sources. And as I have secretly—if unwarranted—taken a little credit for the increase of food-related photos and updates of my friends on Facebook, I have made sure to put that additional interest to good use.

As was the case last Thursday when my friend, Kristen, posted about sprinkling truffle oil over her popcorn. This lead to this lively comment thread.

Well, it only took me a week, but I went to my local Citerella to buy the Sottocenere al Tartufo cheese (a pale yellow, Venetian, semi-soft, raw cow's milk cheese with flecks of black truffle in a cinnamon and nutmeg-spiced ash rind), and, on the way back home, picked up some fresh chitarra (short, thin, squared semolina pasta that is made by pressing through thin metal strands strung between two sides of a wooden box—as in a guitar), and some thin slices of guanciale (a highly delicate cured bacon made from pork jowl that is more rich in flavor than even pancetta).

Once I got home, the fresh pasta cooked al dente only in a matter of minutes, which was just enough time to sauté two slices garlic cloves in some olive oil and adding sliced strips of the guanciale to render its abundant fat. The pasta was drained and tossed into the olive oil with the guanciale and garlic as I added a tablespoon of butter, the juice of half a lemon,some chopped scallion greens, and salt and fresh-cracked pepper. Finally, the Sotocenere al tartufo was grated on table.

All this fancy-sounding ingredients wound up making a delicious version of what is essentially a pasta with ham and cheese dish, but made more upscale by the quality of the ingredients, and possibly by me taking these al fresca (that just means "outdoors") shots on the roof of the kitchen of the restaurant below me, which is right outside my window.

This dish appeared and tasted pleasantly bright and rustic. The pasta—thicker-than-most "thread" pasta—supported and hugged all the flavors of the rendered pork fat, garlic, lemon, and butter extremely well, while starting and ending each bite with, first, the aroma of truffles in the cheese on top (and, trust me, you don't need much)—made greater by it being grated!—then, lastly, the flavor of truffle.

Surprisingly enough, even with the $10 price tag of the sliver of the Sottocenere, the price tag of all the ingredients was less than twenty bucks, with plenty of each ingredient left over. With that kind of low cost,maybe I should consider opening up a restaurant where all the menu items are inspired by my Facebook friends.

Wouldn't you LIKE that...?! ;)

Bun Apple Tea!


Chitarra with Guanciale and Sottocenere al Tartufo