Eye Candy: Cacio e Pepe with Egg Noodles, Manchego, and Oregon Black Truffles
Hilary DeutschHilary Deutsch
October 12, 2015
“Water & Wall, where creative meets delicious,” reads the headline of Tom Sietsema’s glowing Washington Post review of the Arlington, Virginia restaurant. The credit goes to chef and owner Tim Ma, a Momofuku Ko alum, who recently served his creative and thoughtful mid-Atlantic cuisine at the Beard House. With an evening filled with contrasting flavors, textures, and temperatures (including but not limited to: foie gras croquettes, pickled quail, and live scallop with cold soba noodles), Ma delighted palates and intrigued taste buds with his eclectic menu.
And nowhere else was Ma’s expert technique and care for ingredients highlighted more than with his silky cacio e pepe dish: tender egg noodles were coated with the traditional Italian combination of salty cheese and a mass of freshly ground spicy black pepper. Instead of only using Pecorino Romano—the classic cheeses most Italian nonnas use—Ma added buttery and creamy Manchego to the mix, which tempered the piquancy and gave the dish a subtle nuance. Topped off with a generous shower of Oregon black truffles, this showstopper was a deeply satisfying reminder of how simplicity can often be a chef’s best friend in the kitchen.
Hilary Deutsch is editorial assistant at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram.