Have you seen the new Anthony Bourdain show on the Travel Channel yet? It’s called The Layover, and we at No. 208 have totes been enjoying the heck out of it. The premise is that Mr. Bourdain is in a city, ostensibly on layover for twenty-four-ish* hours, and he takes the audience to the places that one can go check out in that amount of time, dropping travel tips along the way. It’s pretty cool (and also, now I would like to live in Singapore at some point**).

So the last week was the show on Rome, and at the end there, he’s eating this pasta dish that looked pretty great, and which I neglected to write down the name of when I heard it. He did, tho’, mention what was in it, and much to my delight, it didn’t sound at all complicated.

I bought some fettuccine and some good cheese.*** I had the rest of what goes in it in the pantry already, and so was game to give this a shot.

OMFG. Dinner. Was. Amazing. Here’s how it went down:

The Approximate Pasta Dish We Saw Anthony Bourdain Eatserves 4

1# fettuccine
4 Tbsp salted butter
4 Tbsp raw sesame seeds
black pepper
Enough finely shredded fresh parmesan for each bowl to get a little heap

1. Boil up the pasta. While it’s boiling, handle the sesame seeds:

2. Place the sesame seeds in a small, nonstick pan over medium high heat,  and warm them until they turn a toasty brown and smell delicious and nutty. This will happen pretty quickly – a minute or so. Some might pop – no worries. As soon as they’re done, remove them to a plate – if they stay in the pan, they will continue to cook, even off the heat, and burn.  Sensitive little suckers, sesame seeds. Congratulations, you’ve just done the hardest part of the whole meal – for reals! Osm, huh?

3. Pasta done? Drain it and set it back in the pot. Drop in the butter, and mix until all the butter has melted. Add the sesame seeds, and a little dash of fresh black pepper, stir gently to combine without the seeds falling to the bottom.

4. Plate that business and top it with a little hill of the cheese (I’d say 2 Tbsp/person? I think that’s what we did.)  That’s it =D

I served this with steamed brussels sprouts, and they were delicious, what with the butter and cheese. Also, it would be great with spinach or broccoli rabe, I’m pretty sure.

The dish is deceptively simple – I don’t know anyone who didn’t make something like this in their college days. But let me tell you, friend, this is miles away from spaghetti with margarine and some powdery cheese from that green foil paper can. I’m going to blame it not just on the quality of the cheese, but primarily on the sesame seeds – some kind of Outrageous Kitchen Magic happens when you add them, and the meal becomes not only comforting, but kinda fanceh, even.

It was super easy, super quick, and pretty inexpensive. And delicious. Did I mention, delicious?


*Sometimes longer – I think the Miami one was thirty something hours. Anyway.
**After we spend a good long time living in Cardiff, Wales. But the Wales thing has nothing to do with Anthony Bourdain.
***From  S&S Deli, right over the West Boylston line – freaking OSM italian deli. The sister bakery, Gerardo’s, has moved into its own building now, just a down the street towards Worcester (tho’ you can still get yummy bread at the deli, the bakery has the goods on cakes and fancy treats) and the building that was the bakery, above the deli, has become an old school butcher shop (they make their own sausage – it’s amazing, btw). Right across the side street is S&S Farms, where you can get good, basic produce, and some niceties like fresh herbs, and this time of year, Christmas trees. The prices at S&S are excellent (frequently the lunchmeat is significantly less expensive than at a grocery – also, they roast their own turkey breast, which is To Die For), they have italian specialty items like imported olive oil, fresh parmesan, and prosciutto, and dude, they’re a local business – get outta the grodery hore and check this place out. Bonus: ask me sometime about Ed Hyder’s (did someone say lamb?) and I can give you a good review there too =)
† We have a teenager in our house – which is to say, here it actually served three.