adore cities. The sparkle, the shopping, the entertainment and the art. I love the shiver of activity in the morning and the ebb-and-flow sense that everything’s seemingly in reach.
I’m fortunate. I travel often on holidays. The effect cities have on me is the same whether I’m in Bangkok, Singapore or Rome, three of my favorite places.
For three days I soak in it — and then run back to my quiet mountain in Umbria.
Late summer and early autumn is the time of year when I refuse to miss a minute of the countryside.
After the fierce August heat, the sun turns gentle and the sunsets are mellow. The colors, greens, golden and blues, brighten up in the afternoon breezes.
It might sound like a cliché, but Umbria at this time of year is beautiful beyond words.
It’s also a festival of fruits and flavors. I find myself on a permanent sugar high, almost like Christmas. There are sweet smelling figs, grapes, peaches, pears, and blackberries. All I need to do is stroll outside my door and I can pick them from trees, all of them perfectly ripe. What a privilege.
To celebrate this richness I even put fruits in my pasta. Honey also.
I may live away from the glitz, but at this time of year I don’t miss it even a bit of it. The hills, and the recipes they suggest, are my privilege. I can’t get enough of it.
Ravioli with pears, cheese and honey (makes about 50 ravioli and serves 4)
For the ravioli:
For the sauce:
— Peel, slice and dice the pear in very small pieces, sauté in 1 teaspoon butter until just tender and cool. Add to the ricotta cheese, lemon zest and grated Parmesan cheese.
— Divide the pasta into pieces of the size of a large egg. Using a pasta machine roll them out into long strips.
— Place teaspoons of the pear and cheese filling about 5 cm (2 inches) apart on the pasta sheet. This lets you make a “parcel” by folding over the pasta sheet.
— Using a pasta cutter seal each parcel by cutting on three sides (the fourth is the fold). Dust a large tray with flour and carefully place the ravioli on it taking care that they don’t overlap.
— Cook in salted boiling water until al dente, about 3.5 minutes. Drain and toss ravioli with the butter and a little pasta water. Stir on high heat to absorb the water and bind the sauce to the ravioli.
— Distribute onto four plates, top with Parmesan (or pecorino) shavings and drizzle with honey. Serve at once.