After our trip to the River Café last month, maman kindly gifted us her old copy of the first River Cafe Cook Book. Flicking through this book is inspiring: so inspiring that it every time I open it, it tempts me to quite my current life and go and live and cook in Italy for the rest of my years.
Shutting the book and returning to real life doesn't stop that dream, but I can make it just a little bit real by cooking that food here, in my East London kitchen. So last week, our final meal in our previous flat in Bethnal Green, I cooked up an enormous plateful of penne alla carbonara. It was one of the best meals we'd had all year, eaten on the floor round the coffee table as everything else had been packed away.
This may not be the healthiest of meals. But that's not the point.
200g pancetta, cut into matchsticks
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 egg yolks
120ml double cream
150g Parmesan, freshly grated
250g penne rigate
1. Slowly fry the pancetta in olive oil. Add some black pepper.
2. Beat the egg yolks with the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Add half the Parmesan.
3. Cook the penne in a lot of salted water. Drain.
4. Combine cooked penne with hot pancetta and oil.
5. Pour in the cream mixture. Stir so that every piece is covered.
6. Add the remaining Parmesan to serve.