Author Archives: Annette Joseph

Styling Your Life Workshop Recap:: La Fortezza, Italy

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Ciao guys! Well, our first La Fortezza Workshop went off without a hitch. We welcomed back Maren and Joanna for a La Fortezza Workshop reunion of sorts (they both attended my Strictly Styling Workshop last spring), and we met Joanna’s friend florist Sarah.

Eliza Honey was supposed to be our floral instructor, but the timing of her first baby made it impossible for her to join. I am looking forward to having her join us to teach us everything floral here in the next years. We missed her, but the trio did a great job and everyone who attended had a great time.

We enjoyed many dinners on the terrace including a lovely apperitivo prepared by foodstylist/insturctor Maren. There were many beautiful florals around La Fortezza made by our attendees, and you gotta love that. Joanna taught a table setting class on the terrace; it is always fun to see how instructors use our things. The table was lovely.

Thanks to the attendees, who quite frankly, I now call friends. The best part about these workshops is that new friendships forged, especially the friendships between the attendees. We had another duo form with 2 of our guests who met at the airport and became fast friends. We called them the “2 Kims”.

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Chef Philip blew it out of the park, once again, with his amazing meals so thoughtfully prepared from all local ingredients from our kitchen garden. We welcomed our first intern ever, Adri. She’s a wonderful addition to our close-knit team.

The highlight of the workshop was that Heidi Rew from the Heidi Rew Show was here as well. She filmed and interviewed all of us including my stylist friend from Modena, Barbara (she’s teaching with me this weekend at my “Strictly Styling Workshop”). It was wonderful having her with us. Heidi is a delight and her podcast is amazing. I hope you give her “The Italian Chronicles” a listen over the next couple weeks and make sure to subscribe to her channel. Her show is great!

If you’re in media drop, me a line. We are welcoming all media this year to help us promote this incredibly gorgeous place in Italy. Reach out at annette@annettejosephstyle.com

xx Annette

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The Tale of Ancient Bread of the Lunigiana

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Once upon a time, there was a region in Italy far to the north of Tuscany called Lunigiana. This beautiful place of rolling hills, green land, of olive groves and chestnut forests was remote and magical. The folks living in the region were very creative and clever with what the land provided.

They harvested and sold olives and the oil extracted from the olives. They kept the chestnuts for themselves to live off of and use in many incarnations. The chestnuts were fired on a low burning fire dried to be milled into flour. The leaves used in the kitchen as parchment.

The low constant fire also gave way to utility by way of cooking on low fire. Large covered cast iron pans called “testa” were put on the low fire and used to cook many staples like bread while the chestnuts dried.

Last week our workshop chef, Philip, and I went to observe a loaf of local bread being baked in this cast iron vessel over the open fire. My friend Cornelia, invited us; she and her family own Podere Conti an Agriturismo in Flatteria about 45 mintues from our place. Cornelia is passionate about food and very passionate about local food. She was preparing to be part of the regional slow food competition presented in Parma at the famous cooking school, ALMA

We were lucky enough to watch her practice with her assistant at her beautiful location. The process is very specific. They had been testing variations on proportions of wet the dry ingredients for weeks. Finally, after several attempts, they came up with the perfect ratio for a moist and light bread. Careful not to give away too many secrets, she simply had us watch as they heated the testa pans in the open fire and then gently placed damp chestnut leaves onto round wooden boards. While the bread rose, we enjoyed the beautiful grounds and talked about her sheep and the olive harvest last season.

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Cornelia dampens and then presses the leaves between heavy boards to flatten, before using it as natural parchment for baking the bread.

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Dried Chestnut leaves, picked at the waning of the moon. Cornelia believes in Luna harvesting technique. https://www.gardeningbythemoon.com/

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I’ll let you know how they did at the competition, but after tasting everything, I think we have a winner. Their entry for the competition: bread baked in the testa with chestnut leaves toasted and rubbed with sweet garlic, local head cheese, local Pecorino cheese, homemade persimmon jam, and their own fresh pressed Bio olive oil. These offerings should surely garner first prize. It was certainly a gold medal experience for Philip and I. Thank you Cornelia for your warm hospitality and friendship.

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Podere Conti’s Bio- Olive oil.

Living in the Italian countryside has certainly opened my eyes to a whole new lifestyle, new foods and ways to harvest and cook in season, but mostly to some very dear friends.

xx Annette

 

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Italy 2019:: the Arrival

My happy place with my happy cocktail, an Aperol Spritz, the New York Times may be hating on it but there’s nothing more refreshing and Italian than this baby, am I right?

Ciao Everyone! If you’re following on social media , you know Vivi and I arrived in Italy. We had a great flight over. Vivi is amazingly chill on a plane. As long as I am near, she’s just fine. I think that most dachshund owners would agree any anxiety is gone if the owner is nearby. She ceases to need food or water for the entire flight which makes me anxious, but she just sleeps. When we land in Milan, she’s cool as a cucumber and relieves herself for about 4 minutes once we are outside the terminal (how does she do that?). She’s the best.

We arrived and La Fortezza was in tip-top shape thanks to Gian Luca, our master gardener and overall amazing man. Cristina, our house manager, is the best. She caught that there was very little gas in our reserve (thank goodness because there is nothing worse than a cold shower after traveling for 15 hours, am I right?). I am blessed with a great group of people and darling friends in the neighborhood who look out for me (us). It’s country living at its best. I spent the first 2 weeks with friends and neighbors stopping by to say ciao and asking if I needed anything. It’s one of the many reasons we love it here.

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Panigacci a local specialty, we call them Italian tacos but they are so much more

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I also spent the first 2 weeks here prepping for upcoming workshops and entertaining visitors. First, our mother of the bride joined me for a quick tour and some wine tasting. Sometimes my job ain’t so bad. After the mother of the bride, was Ros Atkinson from Her Dark Materials . She was scouting La Fortezza, checking our gorgeous light, and playing in our studio. We also went prop shopping which was pretty darn dreamy. She’s more amazing than I had anticipated which was a lovely treat. We got along like a house on fire as they say. I love her and cannot wait to host her still life photography workshop. If you are at all interested in creating the most incredible images this workshop is for you. She’s so friendly, funny, and talented. We have limited spots, so check it out.

Still life Caravaggio style, created in the studio at La Fortezza by Ros, she is a master.

I just picked up our workshop chef, Philip and we literally stopped at my favorite shop on the way up to La Fortezza. Love this photo of him fresh off the plane stuffing his mouth with cheese and salami. Have you ever seen a happier guy?! He will be teaching everyone how to make pasta, and so much more this year. It is his second season, and now that he knows his way around the local food scene here, this year will be epic. Don’t forget to follow my stories and see what we are all up to as we launch the new La Fortezza Creative Workshop season.

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Come on summer!

xx

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Chef Philip’s Arugula Ice Cream

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As you know we are about to start our La Fortezza Workshop season. We have the most wonderful Chef, Chef Philip Meeker. You may have seen him on previous blog posts from last fall’s La Fortezza Workshops. He’s a cool guy that speaks Italian and drives a stick shift, but mainly he is super creative with local ingredients. So we all love him.

Today I am sharing one of his recipes. When he told me about it, I just had to share. With the last of the arugula popping up in our garden, it’s perfection for this time of year. Stay tuned for more of his recipes coming up as we cook for and with our workshop attendees. Buon Appetito!

Arugula Ice Cream or in Italian, Gelato di Rucola

Chef Philip says, “This time of year there’s a lot of fresh arugula at the market. Buying it from the farmer is a totally different experience than getting it at the store. The nutty and peppery flavors that you get from farm-fresh arugula are as striking as any herb which to me is a great indication that it would go well in a gelato just like rosemary or basil would. But what to pair the gelato with depends on whether you use cane sugar or glucose to make it. If you use glucose, the sweetness will be so minimal that you can use it in salad, like a carpaccio di fragole (a.k.a thinly sliced strawberries) with balsamic, fresh arugula and olive oil. And don’t worry: while glucose may sound fancy and hard to get, the light corn syrup you use for pecan pie is mostly glucose.”

Arugula Ice Cream

You will need:
– 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
– ¾ cups whole milk
– 1 ½  cups sugar (or glucose or light corn syrup)
– ¼ cup cornstarch
– 3 cups puréed arugula (about 3-4 bunches of field arugula)
– pinch of salt plus salt for boiling arugula
Note: There is no acid in this recipe because it will destroy the green color

Blanching and Puréeing Arugula:

Prepare a bowl of heavily iced water. This will be used to immediately cool down the arugula after it cooks. Bring a saucepan full of water to a boil. Salt the water lightly. Throw in the arugula and let it cook for three to five seconds. Remove it from the boiling water and immediately plunge it into the ice water. As soon as the arugula becomes ice cold, about 20 seconds, put it into a blender. Don’t worry too much about water that stays with the arugula as it goes into the blender. This will help the arugula blend into a smooth purée. Add a couple of ice cubes to the blender before starting to ensure the arugula won’t heat while blending which will allow the beautiful green colors to be , preserved. As you blend the arugula to a purée, add water and ice to the blender as needed to ensure the arugula has enough liquid to blend. Store the arugula purée in the fridge until you are ready to add it to the ice cream mix. Keeping it cool will ensure that its color will stay green and that the flavor won’t weaken.

Making Ice Cream Base:

To make the base of the ice cream, heat ½ cup of the whole milk plus the heavy cream in a small saucepan on high heat along with 1 cup of the sugar. Stir occasionally to make sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. In a bowl, mix together the remaining sugar and cornstarch with a whisk (mixing these two ingredients together ahead of time helps avoid lumps). Mix in the remaining milk.

When the dairy-sugar mix in the saucepan comes to a boil, mix a little of it in with the cornstarch mix. Then pour the entire contents of the bowl into the pot. Put it back over high heat. Mix it slowly while it comes to a boil. When the contents of the pot boil, mix it rapidly, carefully scraping the bottom to avoid scorching. The mixture needs to boil for 1-2 minutes until it lacks a starch taste.

Afterward, pour the mix into a sealed container, and store in the fridge to cool down.

Once cool, whisk the arugula into the dairy mix along with the salt. Spin in an ice cream maker to make ice cream.

*Tip: Make sure the arugula mix has enough salt in it to make it have maximum sweetness but not enough to make it taste salty instead of sweet. You do this by adding salt to the mix, little by little, tasting as you go. It will bring out the nutty, peppery flavor of the arugula.

*Suggestion: Create new flavor profiles by using other herb purées, such as parsley, mint, or tarragon. If a herb seems like it might lack flavor, steep the herb in the dairy mix after the dairy mix comes off the heat. Remove the steeped herb before it starts to turn color to something dead looking. I generally do a five-minute infusion.

Grazie mille, Chef Philip!

xx

Photo credit: Philip Meeker

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Best Gift for Mom:: Italy Workshop Discount

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Here’s a great gift for you and your Mom, for you and a best friend, or just gift yourself.

Have you wanted to join me in Italy? Well here’s your chance! For a limited time, we want to offer a discount you. This is how it works:

  1. Code MOM is for ONE, individual use of $300 off a workshop of your choice.
  2. Code MOMBFF is for ONE, duo use $500 off a workshop of your choice.
For MOMBFF to work, the user has to add $3200 to their cart (two attendees at 2, $1600 deposits
each).
Discount runs through May 12th. Happy Mother’s Day!
Note I am sorry we cannot make this a retroactive discount
this offer must be booked between May 9-12th 2019
See you in Italy!
xx Annette
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