Author Archives: Annette Joseph

Preserving Italy Workshop:: the slow food experience

E8F40B1B-D2FC-4E35-B8E9-294D4DD1F73E fullsizeoutput_6d3d Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.48.54 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-14 at 7.24.39 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-14 at 7.11.42 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-14 at 7.13.36 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-14 at 7.17.42 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-14 at 7.18.17 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.55.51 AM

We just wrapped up the Slow Food Experience workshop, and I must say it was a wonderful experience not only for our attendees but for me too. We visited food artisans in the area and sampled local food like panigacci and chestnut fritters, and with the help of my foodie friends, I think we represented the region of the Lunigiana proudly.

There are so many interesting and different local foods here. It’s so different, in fcct, that I am writing my next cookbook about it (keep your eyes peeled for the La Fortezza Cookbook, due out in 2021). It is a region rich in history and food history with many kitchens born out of need and lack of funds; the “poor kitchen,” or as they call it, “cucina povere” was creative and inspired.

We made pasta with Chef Philip using jarred tomato sauce, (passata) from our kitchen garden tomatoes. We made grape jam with my friend and slow food ambassador, Giovanna, and sampled bread from the local bread maker Fabio

fullsizeoutput_6d60

We enjoyed chestnut fritters with chestnut honey and dined on all the products from around the area breakfast lunch and dinner, and of course many aperitivos…

This workshop will be available next year. All workshops for 2020 will post in November. We would love for you to join us and sample all the local food products and meet all the lovely people that work so hard to preserve the traditions of this beautiful region.

Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.50.47 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.48.05 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.50.15 AM

Thanks to all the attended and we really loved meeting your eating with all of you. See you next year.x

Some imagery is from our team photographer Kate Blohm

All baking behind the scenes celebration Cocktail Italiano cookbook collection cooking how to be a stylist Instagram italian cooking italy Meet the Team Notes from Italy Personal photography photostyling photostyling like a pro renovation in italy secrets on how to become a stylist style lessons Style Pin the art of a party The Fortress tips from a stylist Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My vacation in Puglia

fullsizeoutput_6b09

As some of you might know, I take August off and plan a vacation to explore a new region in Italy. Last year was Sicily. This year I decided to head to Messors Shepherds and Food Culture Workshop in Puglia I view these trips as my personal photo safari and with camera in hand, I love to have the luxury of just photographing everything.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tonio and his wife Jennifer

I made my way out to the Puglian countryside, to the Messors Shepherds and Food Culture Workshop location to meet Messors Workshop hosts, Tonio and Jennifer Creanza. All the attendees and most of the staff are hosted at a friend’s large home near Matera. What once was a hunting lodge, now serves as a working masseria (farm).

Tonio Creanza leads the workshop along with his wife Jennifer. Jennifer has tireless energy; she is no doubt the driving force and support system for the 6-day workshop with a wide range of activities. All meals served at the house and all over the countryside are produced by her and a staff of close family and volunteers from all over the world. Truth is, I was surprised to meet her since there is no mention of her in the collateral about the workshop. But she’s truly the star of the show and the glue that holds their workshops together. Jennifer is originally from Vancouver (where the family resides in the winter months). She met Tonio at one of his restoration workshops. As she tells it, he courted her by serenading to her with his guitar under the stars.

They also include their charming 10-year-old son, August. I had the pleasure of sitting with him during dinner, and I must say he’s one of the most interesting 10-year-olds I have ever met. Normally I am not a fan of having kids at workshops. I like kids, don’t get me wrong, I just like it better when I am on vacation to have adults around. But August proved that I was wrong, and he was one of the most delightful parts of the workshop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

August with his Nonno (Grandfather)

Tonio is a restoration expert and currently has several projects resorting cave paintings in the Matera area. As part of the restoration project, Tonio and Jennifer have purchased a property, a primitive shepherd’s house, which has several caves on the property with amazing paintings. The caves include crypts and churches and dwellings. Tonio, along with a rotating team of restorers, plans to restore them to their former glory. The shepherd house is where the cheese demonstration took place, followed by lunch and then Tonio’s afternoon lecture in the caves on the property.

Shepherd's House

Shepherd’s House

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

lecture in the caves

lecture in the caves

Tonio is deeply committed to restoring these beautiful cave paintings. He speaks passionately about his commitment to these projects. He views himself as an educator and throughout the workshop, there are many lectures about cave dwellings and paintings. He speaks about his connection to the land to the shepherds and the farmers and makers and to the caves. His core message is a good one. History should be respected, preserved and cherished, and ancient food traditions and preparations should be passed down through the generations and not forgotten, and I could not agree more. It’s a noble cause he’s chosen to share.

Breakfast was served outdoors, where sometimes Tonio drags his beloved chalk board to do a lecture about his feelings about food and food conservation in Italy. He has strong opinions which he shares by punctuating his points while drawing a map of Italy and writing all over his beloved chalkboard.

The night we all arrived, he even tried to teach a bit of Italian to the attendees. Which I found quite funny since many glasses of wine had been consumed. He even wrote Italian words on his chalkboard in the the darkness. He played the guitar, sang and whistled to us all. It was quite sweet.

Although Tonio did the brunt of the touring and talking, I was most impressed with the enormous effort that Jennifer put into dragging tables and chairs, dishes and flatware, wine and water and food all over the countryside. Since I do workshops, I am keenly aware of the monumental task she managed to pull off every day all with a lovely smile on her face. It is a mammoth effort on her part and the part of her hardworking team. So a big thank you to all of them.

Although there were some interesting attendees, the most interesting person was a volunteer helper, Allen, one of my favorites, an older gentleman from Canada, an ex soccer ref who has found the practice of meditation and yoga in his golden years. He was our driver, although he never knew where we were going, he was always funny and resourceful.

I loved talking to Melissa, a restoration student from Canada, trying to figure out her next moves. She was lovely and helpful and always so cheerful. I loved my conversations with them all.

Joe, employed by the homeowner, was a delightful young man from Ghana. He has immigrated to Italy and is trying to make a go of it. His story was poignant, and we had a few quiet conversations mainly about how he felt isolated and lonely. I took some photos of him to send home to his Mom. He was so grateful and happy.

Allen

Allen

Melissa- restoration intern

Melissa- restoration intern

Joe

Joe

cheese maker

cheese maker

fullsizeoutput_6b3c

We visited one of the oldest bakeries in Altamura, known for its soft semolina bread. I think some of my best images are from here, as it was shaded, and we got an earlier start.

Altamura Breadmaker

Altamura Breadmaker

We did visit the Shepherd in the field, although full disclosure, I was disappointed that we got there too late to see the sheep close up and in good light. By the time we were trekking out into the vast fields it was 11:00 am, over 100 degrees and way too bright to get any good imagery. But with 15 people in tow, it’s hard to get everyone out the door by 7:30 am when the light is the best.

shepherd

Shepherd

I think the biggest takeaway for me on this vacation was that group trips for a personal photo safari is probably not the best idea. The best bet is to travel alone or go to a photography-focused workshop.  In fact, one of the attendees at lunch asked me, “Why are you taking so many pictures?” which made me giggle. I explained that I loved photography, that this is my passion, and that I loved to photograph. It was my vacation. Further proof that photography workshops are probably the best bet if you want great photos and want to be with like-minded people.

My impressions: Since I am in the business, I feel it’s important that I am honest with you.

It was an interesting trip, and I think Messors is a good choice if you want to have a no fuss, no muss experience. One Note* All the rooms are shared rooms, but I lucked out at getting my own private room, for which I was most grateful. Since it’s a working farm, be aware that it is not a luxury experience. Something that I was not fully prepared for. So always read about the location amenities if air conditioning and your own bathroom is important to you, this is probably not the location for you. If this sounds like it is for you…one word of advice is that if you’re sharing a room, and you snore let them know….but just in case your roommate snores or noise keeps you awake, make sure you bring noise canceling headphones for a better night’s sleep. I brought mine and it saved me, I slept like a log.

Now that I have experienced Puglia, and will definitely go back with Frank and get those photos I missed. x

Check out this documentary from 2015 about Tonio’s cave project.

 

 

All behind the scenes Events Instagram italy Notes from Italy Personal photography Travel Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , ,

Lucca, a less traveled destination

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When we rented houses in Levanto over the summer with our family many years ago, we discovered Lucca. Lucca is a beautiful walled city with lovely churches and a wonderful antiques market held the 3rd weekend of every month in the summer period.

Our family would go there about once a month since it was the nearest “big” city. Home of Puccini, it holds a special place in our hearts as well as many great family memories. It is about 1 hour and fifteen minutes from La Fortezza, so it’s not unusual for us to go there for concerts even now. They have an amazing summer pop concert series. In fact, this year is was part of Elton John’s farewell tour! There are some fun activities that have popped up over the years. For example, food tours on bikes are popular.

Frank and I recently met a photographer, an American who has moved to Lucca with his wife. Tom England, was a photojournalist for Time Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, and National Geographic, to name a few.

Along with his on the road assignments, on his off time, Tom taught photography. Since Tom has tons of energy and a natural curiosity, he found exploring Lucca through the lens to be quite exciting. Last year Tom decided to start a photo touring business in Lucca. Since he has scoped out some amazing secret spots and knows all the best angles, not to mention his expertise, his tours have become quite popular. Frank and I decided that it would be fun to reserve one of his photo tours. It was amazing. Not only did he take us to some beautiful and photogenic spots off the beaten path, but he guided us to some really beautiful imagery. His teaching style was both informative, casual, and interesting.

We spent 3 hours walking all over Lucca, down alleyways and passages, all while listening to his stories about his amazing career as a photo journalist for iconic American publications. At times it seemed that he was the real-life Sean Penn, photographer in The Secret Life of Walter Middy. A great storyteller and teacher, it was a great idea to trek Lucca with Tom.

Tom and Frank framing the shot

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All the locals know Tom

Lucca is a small but scenic town on the far western side of Tuscany, near Pisa; it is an oasis for ex-pats because it’s so close to the Pisa airport and easy to manage as far as size goes. We had a great time, and I highly recommend Tom England’s photo tour if you’re looking the photograph Lucca in a more artistic and different way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Put Lucca on your list and head to the activities page on the Workshop and Retreat Website to get more suggestions about Lucca.

xx Annette

All Beauty behind the scenes Crushing On Events Instagram italy Notes from Italy Personal photography The Fortress Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rosemary Smoked Branzino

Branzino one of my favorite types of fish. It is flaky and subtle, and it takes on flavors quite well. Recently, I smoked it with rosemary from our garden. The results were a buttery smokey flavor with a soft and melt in your mouth texture. On the menu translated from Italian, they call it sea bass, but it really resembles trout more than what we think of a thick cut from a giant fish.

It’s a great summer recipe and the flavors could be translated to other fish types as well. Let me know if you give it a try!

s4EB2+4NRJyvnV9d0s3u+A

80D76B9E-53BF-4F23-8355-152CA668F8AB fullsizeoutput_681f

Smoked Branzino
Serves 4

You will need:
– 3  whole cleaned Branzino about 2 lbs
– 3 lemons
– 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
– 1 large bunch of fresh rosemary on the stems
– 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped coarsely
– 1 tablespoon salt
– 3 tablespoons olive oil

To prepare:

Have your fish monger gut and clean the fish. Rinse under cold water, pat dry and set aside.

In a glass dish place fish and coat with thyme, rosemary, salt and oil, squeeze 1 lemon over the fish and massage into the fish. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.

Start the fire, after coals are white, (about 1 hour) pull the fish from the fridge place on the grill, place the large bunch of rosemary next to the fish and close the lid of the grill. Smoke should start forming, do not open the grill for 5 minutes. This will ensure the smoky flavor permeates the fish.

After 5 minutes, gently turn the fish to cook the other side. Add more rosemary if the rosemary has burned. Cook for 10 minutes uncovered. Watching to make sure the fish doesn’t burn.

Remove and garnish with lemon slices and serve warm.

 

 

 

All behind the scenes cooking dinner party Entertaining gardening grilling italian cooking italy kitchen Parties Personal Recipes Tuscany Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Private Retreats at La Fortezza Workshops

Screen Shot 2019-07-15 at 6.16.43 AM

Ciao everyone,

We’re gearing up for our next round of workshops. As always, I am excited to welcome everyone, but I am especially jazzed about spending time with our private retreat end of September.

What is a “Private Retreat” you might be asking yourself? Well, a private retreat is just that. It is a retreat put together by a host or organizer, for a private group of friends or co-workers. We offer activity focused vacations or corporate retreats in Italy that include all aspects of our unique Tuscan location. Activities like shopping, art, food and cooking lessons, exploring local food artisans from the region of the Lunigiana, Liguria and Emilia Romagna. With 30 years as a producer, I can tell you with confidence we can facilitate any type of cultural experience. La Fortezza offers yoga, wine tasting, truffle hunting, foraging in the kitchen garden, horseback riding, hiking, cooking lessons, shopping for antiques or at local markets like Forte Dei Marmi, chic beach clubs, lingering lunches at a family-owned village, boat rides, styling lessons, social media tutorials, and outdoor movies on the terrace.

fullsizeoutput_66e9 IMG_7854 fullsizeoutput_5abf

We are ready to help you enjoy your time in Italy in our bohemian monastic styled guest quarters.

Screen Shot 2019-07-15 at 6.16.17 AM Screen Shot 2019-08-09 at 3.17.26 PM Screen Shot 2019-08-09 at 3.17.50 PM

Make pizza in our pizza oven…

fullsizeoutput_66a1

Harvest from our own vineyard and fruit orchards and kitchen garden, witness olive oil being pressed or wheat being milled.

IMG_3291 IMG_3314 fullsizeoutput_66e4

Are you ready to experience 5-star food from our amazing classically trained Chef Philip, take a cooking lesson or two in our commercial kitchen?

Screen Shot 2019-08-09 at 3.19.56 PM Screen Shot 2019-08-09 at 3.18.32 PM

and enjoy aperitivo and meals on our three beautiful terraces?

fullsizeoutput_681b 4F4F0890-50ED-414A-989F-CD6696E072FA Screen Shot 2019-08-09 at 3.19.31 PM fullsizeoutput_673e fullsizeoutput_57f0

If you’re ready we are taking bookings through the end of October 2019…

To book a private experience for 2020 email me annette@annettejosephstyle.com for pricing information, Private retreats are for 6-8 people. Gather your group and join us. La Fortezza is a special place to get in touch with your inner creative and to share it with your group. x

IMG_8729

 

All behind the scenes campari dream home Entertaining Food styling how to be a stylist Instagram italian cooking italy Meet the Team Notes from Italy Personal photography photostyling photostyling like a pro renovation in italy secrets on how to become a stylist style lessons Styling stylist tips The Fortress tips from a stylist Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,