Quarter century cacio e pepe

I recreated this dish after trying it on a trip to Rome with friends I’ve know for 25 years. As a group we’ve lost loved ones, lost body parts and lost swathes of our memories through over indulgence of booze. Equally, we have helped each other through each of these episodes.

Our family are our nearest but our friends, those we choose to have in our lives, are our dearest. Here are mine…


I met Lucy while I was a student in Avignon 25 years ago – she had the best flat with the best balcony which is where we all hung out, playing pinochle, drinking wine and smoking way, way, way too much. She’s been my constant over this quarter century and we’ve shared the best holidays across Europe.

Lucy and me at the Blue Lagoon, Iceland – washing off the eggy-sulphur smell

Through Lucy I met…


Lucy and Stuart have known each other since early childhood and I met him first in Avignon and then in London where we’d be the first in G-A-Y to ensure we got the prime spot on the speaker or the podium.

The general motto for our 1990s was ‘Life’s too short to queue for a cloakroom when there’s disco to be danced to’.

Stuart and me – I had hair, he had rhythm

Stuart was my plus one at one of the best weddings I have been to which was held in Chinchon in Spain. The wedding was memorable, the reception boozy and the hangover was particularly epic.

It was during this hangover that Stuart’s husband, his truly significant other, entered the circle.

It’s time to meet…


Simon entered my life in a whirlwind of romance – not with me but with Stuart. He’s smart, funny, determined and soon became a good friend who takes none of the crap I have a tendency to fling around.

He’s also a quantity surveyor, part of the profession my organisation represents. As a friendship, Simon brings us all full circle.

Stuart, Simon, Me in Rome, late at night, the worse for wear but still fabulous

As a quartet, we travel well. Really well. Our last trip was an epic adventre in Rome which included visits to the Sistine Chapel (where we sneaked a naughty selfie), St Peter’s Basilica (where I got told of for photobombing) and some great restaurants.

Lucy (as a blur), me (photobombing), Stuart (looking sharp) and Simon (smouldering) in St Peter’s, Rome

This dish is typical of Rome, is easy to prepare and following the tenet of this post, serves four. It has no fancy creamy, buttery ingredients it’s simple, elegant, yet robust and tasty tasty tasty.

Music to listen to while preparing this dish: ‘Tu Vuò Fa’ L’Americano’ by Renato Carosone


  • 400g Spaghetti
  • 250g Grated Pecorino Romano cheese (don’t be tempted by Parmesan, it just doesn’t work)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste, you’ll need a good peppery spread through the pasta to get the kick you want
  • Maldon salt


  1. Cook the spaghetti in a pan of rolling, boiling salted water and cook until al dente.
  2. While cooking, boil a kettle and put the boiling water in a separate bowl to heat the bowl.
  3. Once the pasta is cooked, put a few cups of the pasta water to one side – this starchy water is what you’ll use to get a ‘creamy’ sauce. Once done, then drain the pasta.
  4. Once drained add the pasta to your warm/heated bowl and slowly add the cheese and water.
  5. Keep doing this, all the while robustly tossing the pasta, until you get a creamy sauce.
  6. If the sauce gets too wet, add more cheese, if it’s too dry, add a little water.
  7. Once you are happy add your black pepper, toss and serve with pride at a job well done.

Serve with Inama Vigneti di Foscarino Soave Classico 

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