I have a shameful secret. Well, it's shameful to me. I go to restaurants and I order the same things over and over again. The chicken and pork ragu at Vine. The Roman carbonara at Enoteca. The lamb kebabs at The Lamb Shop. Seriously, I eat a lot of fucking lamb kebabs. Sometimes with chips.
But it's that fucking fettuccine carbonara at Enoteca that's gonna kill me. Not by clamping my heart in a deliciously creamy stranglehold and squeezing until it explodes – although there is a fair chance of that – but more likely through frustration.
When I lived in Sydney I used to have fettuccine carbonara three or four times a week at a cheap trattoria in King's Cross. It wasn't silver service dining, but it was pretty good, and reasonably priced at a time when I couldn't afford much more than cheap pasta. Fast forward a couple of decades and the Roman variation served up at Enoteca in the Woolloongabba dining precinct is a revelation. About three times more expensive for starters, but so good I can't get past it, and they can't take it off the menu. Motherfuckers got cut last time they tried.
But because I can't afford to eat there every night, and because it's supposed to be a simple dish, I've tried recreating it at home. The restaurant guys have even talked me through how to do it. It should be ridiculously easy. You boil up some fettuccine, natch. Choose your porkalicious protein, I usually go for smoked speck, which I gently fry in a pan while the fettuccine is cooking. The pasta comes off the boil and get strained. A couple of eggs, sometimes more depending on the size of the meal, are gently folded through, say, a minute after the pasta has come out of the water – otherwise you're a fair chance of scrambling the eggs in the heat. Toss through the chopped up smoky pigmeat. grind over some fresh parmesan. Plate that bad boy up.
It's delish, honestly, even when I do it at home. But I'll be damned if I can get my carbonara to the same thick, heart stopping consistency as the restaurant’s. Seriously. Theirs is not even a sauce. It's more like a gravy. I normally program a couple of hours high-intensity interval training before I eat there and then, like a bear in winter, I don't eat again for months afterwards.
I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. There is just… something… missing. And I cannot rest until I find out what it is.