Dinner in Ravenna: Enoteca Ca’ de Ven

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After the lunch in Cierva, we drove to the city of Ravenna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site by the coast. We checked in to the hotel and walked around the town, which was quickly done, and then sat down outside on Pizza del Popolo for a drink (frankly, one has earned one after driving in Italy!).

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With our Aperol Spritz and prosecco we also received a basket of crisps and a plate full with different nibbles: pizza slices, toast, chicken nuggets and a ham sandwich cut into pieces. Quite random stuff, but I like the idea of receiving a snack with your drink.

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We then had dinner at Ca’ de Ven, a very large and popular rustic restaurant. There must have been well over a hundred people eating here when we arrived, so do book ahead.

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We really wanted to try the local speciality piadina, two flatbreads sandwiched with a filling in between and as this seemed to be a very popular place for it we asked the waiter to recommend a filling and we thoroughly enjoyed his recommendation of creamy cheese, ham and rocket. It was really nice but also very filling. I recommend sharing one like we did or have a whole one as a light meal.

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Then we, unsurprisingly, had a pasta each for our main course. My ravioli with asparagus was nice, but not fantastic, but it was nice to eat some vegetables after all the cheese I had for lunch.

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Caroline chose a very interesting pasta made with eggs, flour and breadcrumbs which created a coarser texture. It also came with asparagus, but also tomatoes and clams. It was nice and different.

The food here didn’t blow us away, but it seemed to be a very popular place, filled with locals and the piadina was great so I would recommend coming here if you find yourself in Ravenna.

Ca’ de Ven, Via Corrado Ricci 24, 48100 Ravenna, Italy

Lunch by the coast: Cruderia Al Porto, Cierva

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Our third day in the Emilia-Romagna area we drove to the coast for lunch. It seemed like all Italians had made the same plan for Easter Sunday as us, so it took us a good half an hour to even find a parking space about a 15 minute walk from the restaurarant. But it was a nice day for a walk so we didn’t mind.

We started our lunch with some thinly sliced raw fish (tuna, salmon, octopus and two types of white fish) served with a grassy olive oil and lemon juice – nice and fresh!

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Thinking of the lovely red prawns from the night before we decided to also share a red prawn tartar with endive, fried garlic and saffron. It was nice but sadly not as fantastic as we had hoped.

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The restaurant was full to the brim with guests, and the staff was very busy looking after all the guests, but between our starters and our main courses it took about 45 minutes. I honestly think they had forgotten about us, and as we were absolutely starving (the starters made us more hungry if anything) it was a long wait.

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My ravioli with burrata (inside the ravioli – such a brilliant idea!) with large prawns and the most amazing tomato sauce with both depth and sweetness, was well worth the wait. It was one of the best dishes I had during our trip and it was just fantastic. So wish I had the recipe so I could recreate it at home.

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Sadly Carolines squid ink pasta with squid and bottarga wasn’t as impressive. In fact, we couldn’t understand how it was produced in the same kitchen as my delicious ravioli.

OK, the actual pasta was well cooked and the squid was nice, but it lacked a lot in flavour and didn’t really come together as a dish. Such a shame!

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Even though we were (finally) full after our pasta dishes we couldn’t resist the mini tiramisus we saw carried around the restaurant on trays, and it was just a perfect ending to the meal. It was great in flavour but a little more crunchy than your regular tiramisu but I liked it!

I’m a bit ambivalent in my opinion of this restaurant; my ravioli was extraordinarily good and I really want to come back to eat it again, but at the same time I don’t think the other dishes we had quite measure up, but since they can produce that amazing ravioli I’m willing to give them another chance. They were incredibly busy, and the potential is there, I just wish that all the dishes were as good as the one I had.

Al Porto, Lungomare D’Annunzio 2 – 48015 Cervia Ra, Italy

Trattoria Caminetto d’Oro, Bologna

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Our first day in Bologna (Good Friday) we walked all over town to explore, but despite the many restaurants here we really struggled to find a nice place for lunch in the area where we were. After a while we settled for Pizzeria Trattoria O Sole Mio, where we had an OK lunch. I had a pizza with plump porcini mushroomsch and Caroline had gramignone pasta with salsiccia and copious amount of cream. Nothing to write home about but just what we needed.

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Our dinner that day was a little more exciting, as we had booked a table at Trattoria Caminetto d’Oro. The menu looked really good so we decided to share two starters to get to taste as much as possible. But first we had the amuse bouche above; a fish mousse with fennel I believe.

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One of the starters was this potato filled ravioli with pecorino and black truffle. It was absolutely delicious and just the type of Italian food I had been dreaming about before our trip.

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The second starter was the daily smoked fish: seabass, with finely chopped vegetables, orange peel, rosemary and thyme. Absolutely delicious! I must remember to pair orange with fish, it works so very well!

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I never tire of truffle so I chose the poached egg with parmesan, white truffle, purple potato purée, croutons and a whole artichoke for my mains. Everything was delicious but it was a dish that you ate in sections because of the artichoke, but still lovely.

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Caroline tried the ‘traditional boiled meats’, which was similar to a pot au feu, tender meats in a deliciously flavoured broth. Very filling though as some of the meat was sausages.

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It came with two sharp sauces, to cut through the richness of the meat; one with herbs and one with chilli, both really nice.

We really enjoyed the food, but the service could have been better. The sommelier was not helpful at all, and actually quite rude. The saving grace was the restaurant manager/owner who really did a great job, but he should hire better staff!

Worth a visit.

Caminetto d’Oro, Via de’ Falegnami 4, Bologna, Italy 

Mushroom ravioli with trumpet mushrooms, girolles and sage butter

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It was a while ago I made pasta but last Saturday I had a whole day to potter around the kitchen so out came the pasta maker.

I’m still quite amazed at how easy it is to actually make the pasta. Making ravioli out of said pasta is a little fiddly but not difficult at all. And it is so very delicious!

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The filling with shallots, garlic, mini portobello mushrooms, dried ceps, parsley and ricotta is simply divine and easy to make. Served with fried shallots, trumpet mushrooms and girolles as well as sage butter this is such a satisfying autumn dish. Ideal for dinner parties (you can make it ahead) or a romantic evening at home with a significant other.

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Hanna’s mushrooms ravioli, serves 2-3

double batch of pasta dough

polenta

3 tbsp butter, for frying

3 small shallots, finely chopped

1 large garlic clove, grated

300 g mini portobello mushrooms or other flavourful fresh ‘shrooms 

2 tbsp dried ceps (porcini) covered with hot water and drained 

2 tbsp chopped parsley

salt, black pepper

75 g ricotta

To serve:

1 handful dried trumpet mushrooms and girolles, covered with hot water and drained 

1/2 shallots, finely chopped

50 g salted butter

5 sage

parmesan, finely grated

Melt the butter in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add onions and garlic and fry until translucent for about five minutes (be careful not to brown it). Add the mushrooms (both dried and fresh) and fry until nice and golden and all the juices have evaporated from the pan. Add the parsley and season generously. Leave to cool completely. In a food processor pulse the mixture until it is finely chopped (but not a mush). Mix with the ricotta and adjust the seasoning. Keep in the fridge until needed. 

Make the pasta dough according to the instructions. After it has rested divide it into 3-4 pieces. Flatten each piece out and run it through the pasta maker, twice on the 0 setting and once on every setting up to 5. Sprinkle your work surface with polenta (for the pasta not to stick) and place the pasta sheets on top. Measure with your ravioli stamp how close you can place the dollops of filling on one pasta sheet and place teaspoon sized dollops of the mushroom ricotta mixture on that sheet. Dip two fingers in water and ‘brush’ the surface of the pasta, all around the dollops, with your fingers. The water will act as glue between the pasta sheets. Carefully place another pasta sheet on top of the one with the filling (brush off the polenta first). Start at one end and carefully encase the filling in the pasta, making sure there are no air bubbles and that the pasta sheets stick in between the filling. Use your ravioli stamp to cut out the ravioli. Place on a plate or baking sheet sprinkled with polenta. Cover with clingfilm until needed.

Repeat the process using up all the pasta dough, including the scraps left from cutting out the ravioli.   

To cook; bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the ravioli (if a lot cook in batches) and let it cook for 2-3 minutes (they should rise to the surface). Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer straight to the deep serving plates.

While the pasta is cooking, fry the shallots and mushrooms in some butter. Season. Place the rest of the butter in a small saucepan and let it melt. Add the sage.

Spoon the sage butter on top of the ravioli, scatter the mushrooms around and top with plenty of grated parmesan. Serve immediately. 

 

Butternut squash and ricotta ravioli with lemon and nutmeg

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When I went to school back in Sweden I was a very fussy eater when it came to school dinners. The food was just so far away from the made from scratch kind of food my mother and grandmothers cooked.

I remember my mother being very concerned, and on a school visit she made sure she had lunch with me. I was so glad that it was ravioli that day – one of my least favourite dishes, so my mother could see why I was so fussy. And she too, struggled to eat it. And from then on she always made sure to send lots of buns, crisp breads and fruit with me to school, just in case I didn’t like the lunch.

Nowadays I don’t think I am considered a fussy eater, but I still don’t eat ‘bad’ food, like those school dinners. They put me off things like lasagne and ravioli for years.

This ravioli however, is as far away as possible from the school version. Instead it is light and fresh with the sweet butternut marrying the earthy nutmeg and sharp lemon. The ricotta I think, add balance to the flavours.

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Butternut squash and ricotta ravioli with lemon and nutmeg,  serves 4

Pasta dough:

200 g 00-flour

2 eggs

Filling:

1/2 butternut squash

plenty of freshly grated nutmeg

approx 125 g ricotta

ca 1 tsp lemon zest

salt, black pepper

Sage butter:

50 g salted butter

5 large sage leaves, more to decorate

Cut the butternut squash in half and remove the seeds. Place skinside down on a roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Roast until soft, about 40 mins, 180C. Scrape out the soft flesh and place it in a bowl. Mush it up with a spoon or a stick blender. Add nutmeg and seasoning. Leave to cool completely. 

Weigh up the flour in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the eggs. Knead into a dough. If too dry, add a tsp of olive oil, if too sticky add more flour. Shape into a ball and cover with cling. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

Mix the butternut squash mash with roughly the same amount of ricotta. Add the lemon zest, season to taste and if you like, add some more nutmeg.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll it out using a pasta machine. Let the dough go through the widest setting three times while folding in between, then once on each setting until as thin as you prefer. I stopped at setting 7. 

Place the thin pasta sheets on a floured surface.  Place a teaspoonful of the filling on one of the pasta sheets with the same space in between the dollops. Brush the pasta with water all around the fillings. Cover with another pasta sheet, non-floured side down. Start at one end and flatten the pasta sheet on top of the other using your hand to protect the filling and to avoid air bubbles. Either cut into ravioli with a knife or use a ravioli cutter. If any excess dough is left over just roll it out again. 

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add plenty of salt to it. Add the pasta pieces 8-1o at the time. Remove with a slotted spoon once the pasta pillows have surfaced. This takes about a minute. 

In the meantime melt the butter in a pan and add the sage leaves. 

To serve, place 6-8 ravioli on each plate. Drizzle with the sage butter, add a sage leaf as decoration and serve with plenty of grated parmesan.