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Sometimes you have to leave London to appreciate what time of year it is. August is just another month in the city but in the countryside the harvest is in full swing and huge balers are working flat out to bind up the straw into enormous golden wheels.

The sight of these huge mountains of hay reminded me of the many nights I spent at Yellow Bar as a student in Florence. We’d scoot into one of the booths, order a vat carafe of house red and a steaming plate of paglia e fieno (straw and hay). No this isn’t some strange student pre-loading ritual – paglia e fieno is the Italian name for green and yellow tagliatelle. In Yellow Bar, they served it with cream, pancetta and mushrooms. It was delicious.

Serves: 2

4 nests of tagliatelle ‘paglia e fieno’

1/2 tub mascarpone

100g bacon, chopped into bite-size pieces. Please note, the fine side of bacon you see above is from Sainsbury’s basics range. 670g for 99p. Yes, really. Amazing how posh it looks when you take it out the shrink wrap and pop it  in a wicker basket.

1 punnet chestnut mushrooms (reduced to 49p), peeled and sliced

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

A spring of thyme

A splash of olive oil

Lashings of parmesan to serve

Salt and pepper to taste

Plunge the pasta into salted boiling water and let it bubble away for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the bacon bits until crispy and brown, then set aside. Then fry the mushrooms, garlic and thyme in a splash of olive oil. Turn off the heat and add in the bacon and mascarpone and stir to a smooth silky sauce.

Drain the pasta, pour into the frying pan to coat with sauce and serve with a bowl of grated parmesan at the table.

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“I saw from out the wave of her structures rise / As from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand”

I have yet to visit every city in the world, but I have no compunction whatsoever in declaring Venice the most beautiful of them all. Here’s a little taster of what 24-hours in Venice looks like, as long as you don’t count the meetings, that is…

1300h Speeding towards The Cipriani

1900h A passion fruit cocktail on The Cipriani’s terrace

2000h Sunset at The Cipriani Dock

2100h The moon resplendent over the lagoon

0900h Breakfast with a view

1000h A tour of The Cipriani’s kitchen garden

1100h Attempting to hide among the grape vines in The Cipriani gardens (I don’t want to go home)

1300h Off the beaten track: a quiet back street in Venice

1310h A gondola floats by…

1330h Drooling over biscotti at Fuori Menu

1340h Buying a souvenir from Italy: Parmigiano Reggiano

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