Picture rolling hills dotted with olive trees and vineyards, fields filled with bright yellow sunflowers and medieval villages perched high on the hilltops to set the mood for this week's region: Umbria.
Some say the region, located in central Italy, has resisted globalization more so than others, and that it continues to cling to its family traditions, recipes and artisan food products. The Slow Food philosophy is thriving in Umbria and you will find many traditional places where local products are the foundation of the typical dishes of each area.
Umbria is known and respected for the quality of its cured meats. The typical products such as capocollo, prosciutto, guanciale, coppa, pancetta, mortadella, coralline and many others are produced in artisan shops throughout the region. The one pork product that you must try if you visit Umbria is porchetta. A whole pig stuffed with wild fennel, rosemary, garlic, and salt and pepper and roasted until it is crispy on the outside, juicy, tender, aromatic, rich and tasty on the inside. Go to a piazza on market day, and find the porchetta truck, all they have is one pig, get a slice, on a simple crusty piece of bread and munch it down, the perfect breakfast. Go early, but not too early, because you don't want the first couple of slices. Let them get down into the loin a little – heaven.
The recipe for this week, Gnocchi al Sugo d' Oca, may seem like a winter dish, but is actually served during the summer as well. In fact, it is during the end of June and early July that outside Orvieto a celebration of the goose takes place, and one can feast on Gnocchi al Sugo d' Oca as well as several other excellent dishes featuring oca (goose). You can substitute duck for the goose in this recipe; you can even substitute a local organic chicken.