As promised, the Carbonara.
I am a huge fan of spaghetti alla carbonara. Between the pancetta, eggs, cheese and cream (yes, I like mine with some cream) it’s a cholesterol bomb, and I try to only have it once every few months, and I enjoy every bite of it.
Of course there is debate regarding what constitutes a real carbonara. I’ll cite a couple of my favorite sources to underscore the fact that carbonara doesn’t seem to count cream as one its ingredients. David Leite of Leite’s Culinaria (one of my favorite sites) uses 3 egg yolks and 1 egg in his much adored recipe (4 servings). Batali himself, in his Viaggio magazine, states that “a true carbonara has no cream” and proceeds to recommend 1 egg a person and a mix of Parmigiano-Regianno and Pecorino Romano (as per his Molto Italiano recipe).
[Upon further research I found a few variations on Mario Batali's carbonara. On his Molto Mario episode he prescribes cream -- and onions; on Food and Wine magazine's recipe there is no cream nor onions, but only Parmigiano-Regianno. Guanciale, pancetta and bacon seem to be interchangeable. So there. Even the authority might allow for variation]
The carbonara I had at Otto was REALLY eggy. Or rather, REALLY yolky. You might notice on the picture how the pasta is sitting on a pool of egg yolk. Although the recipes I’ve seen keep the 1 egg/egg yolk per person/serving there is no way I didn’t consume a good 2-3 in the dish they served me. I asked the server how many egg yolks he estimated went into the dish, and he just replied “I have no idea… it’s rich isn’t it?” and proceeded to schmooze with the table next to me where film people were lunching.
But the yolkiness of the dish was not really the main problem. Rather, I think scallions have no place in carbonara. When I lived in Paris across an Italian woman she taught me to do her carbonara with shallots and cream (and lardons, since we were in France). I have used onions and even garlic at home, because I like the taste of allium in the dish, and I’m partial to Leoncini’s pancetta. Yet raw scallions just confuse me — raw scallions belong in Asian noodle dishes.