I got high quality Madagascar pepper as a gift last week and in addition I had leftover Pecorino. Time for the classic Cacio e Pepe.

The quality was stunning in comparison to the normal pepper, nuanced and elegant. The heat comes in the finish. Such delicious this italian classic with the right pepper.


Cacio e pepe is one of my favorite dishes and it looks like you nailed it.

On Valentine’s Day my wife and I went to a restaurant that did a pink peppercorn cacio e pepe. Neither one of us liked it because it was too floral.


Pink pepper?? Yes, it doesn’t fit in this dish.

Bottom-line, NEVER change classic italian dishes, there is a reason why they are classic.

A favorite.

For my little son I do a quick bastardization of it - pasta, dump a shitload of butter in there, add cheese and lots of pepper. It ain’t the real thing, but it’s yummy as hell and takes 2mins. I end up eating most of it!

In NYC, they call this the Brad Kane special.

Martin, I’ve had problems with clumping. Something about getting the temperature right. I also tend to use freshly grated Parmesan.

One cheat that I’ve tried is to whisk up a little corn starch with pasta water, heat it to a boil, cool it a bit and mix in the cheese. Add the mix to the pasta and stir it in. Takes care of the clumping but it’s not quite right…not to mention sacrilegious.



my method is foolproof and truly italian, just watch the photos&instructions.

The trick is to turn off the heat when you add the cheese. And before, the cheese must be carefully whisked with the pasta cooking water. You have to use as a tool a whisk.

Pecorino Romano is often a better choice than parmesan for several classic italian pasta dishes.

Good luck,

I just ordered Madagascar pepper corns from a very nice lady in Texas who says she’s the only US importer of the stuff. Your mention of them got me interested and now I’m craving Cacio e Pepe. Thank you for posting Martin!

Here’s the link to her site:

Thanks for sharing this recipe Martin! This looks delicious and worth a try, and I’ll have to pick up some Madagascar peppercorns now!

Reading your note and recipe takes me back to when my family visited Italy in 2009 and made our way into Rome. We visited a friend who grew up and lived in Rome all of his life and, as a high schooler, stayed with my family a couple of summers as a foreign exchange student in California. We only had one night to spend together and we requested he take us to a locals joint for food. “I have just the place” he said, and took us to his favorite place for cacio pepe in town. The place was humble, but the food was amazing. It was all locals and he insisted that we order the same thing we saw on everyone else’s table; cacio pepe. What I remember most about it was the crispy/crunchy parmesan cheese bowl that they served the dish in….which is making my mouth water just thinking about it. I’ll have to put your recipe to use soon to see if I can recapture some of that magic, and I might just try my hand at the crunchy cheese bowls to serve it in.


Great, I am curious about your experience with the pepper.

Lovely memories, Rick. I also have such memories with Italy and food. In my case it was 30 years ago in Montepulciano/Tuscany, Gnocchi with burro di salvio.

Fair to say in Italy and on holiday everything taste much better than at home. Since many years I rent a house in Sicily and I have to say the quality of food is stunning. Parmesan is such good and cheap in the supermarkets, sometimes I think the Italians send inferior parmesan quality to Germany.

P.S. please use good quality pasta like the brand Rummo which is good and cheap. Also good are brands like Rustichella and Martelli.
I used Pastificio dei Campi which is certainly not easy to find. The difference to pasta brands like Barilla is the texture, but more importantly how the pasta absorb the sauce.

I’m not sure how widely available it is, but in our area in CA, Safeway now has an own-brand pasta from Italy that is really good, similar to Rustichella but just slightly more expensive than Barilla. It has very good texture.

P.S. if you live in London, you will find it here:

Made some last night using the new pepper. Everyone commented on how much better it tasted. Thanks for the tip Martin!

Good to hear.

I would recommend to use the pepper also for a sauce for steaks. Classic Pepper sauce.

That’s tonight!