Summer Chapter Shoot for La Fortezza Cookbook

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As you all know, I am back in Italy. Mainly for 2 reasons:

1. Check on our house, La Fortezza.
2. Shoot the summer and autumn chapters of my next cookbook La Fortezza Cookbook, Rizzoli NY, Spring 2022.

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This project, for me, is a passion project. The book will be an epic and a beautiful depiction of the region we live in, in northern Tuscany. The book will be filled with local recipes and delicacies, gorgeous travel shots, typical local flavor, and purveyor portraits.

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These photographs will all be captured by the incredibly talented British Photographer David Loftus. I have been an admirer of David’s work for many years, as he has shot for some of the most famous chefs in the world; Jamie Oliver just to name one. His work is insanely beautiful. His discerning eye and recognizable style sets him apart as one of the world’s most respected food photographers. I was thrilled when he agreed to photograph my book.

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My sweet friend and producer, stylist Barbara Pederzini, agreed to help me with the prop styling. She brought all sorts of amazing serving pieces and plates to play with. I used a local chef to help prepare the dishes. It really was a magical team.

Without giving too much away, I believe that this book will take you on a journey and leave you with the lasting memory of a trip to our little piece of heaven. We will be shooting the autumn chapter starting October 5th, so be sure to follow the journey on my insta-stories. I can only tell you this is one of the best projects I have ever worked on. The love I have for this place, La Fortezza will shine through on every page and you will taste the love in every bite.

Until October, stay well x

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Pumpkin Bread

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While fall is still a few days away, pumpkin season is upon us. There’s nothing like starting a crisp fall day with an espresso and a slice of pumpkin bread. This pumpkin bread is delicious for all the reasons you can imagine. It’s sweet. It’s seasonal. It’s festive. And it’s gluten-free.

Feel free to use the gluten-free flour of choice. You’ll get the same results no matter your choice.

Try different variations to really up the ante. Think a sprinkle of chocolate chips throughout the batter or try some pumpkin seeds on top. Either way, make it your own.

Pumpkin Bread

You will need:

– 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
– 3/4 cup granulated sugar
– 2 eggs
– 2 cups gluten-free flour
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 t salt
– 1 1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp allspice

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 F

Grease 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan

Mix flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice together. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time and beat. Alternately add dry ingredients and pumpkin puree to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry (dry-wet-dry-wet-dry).

Pour mixture into greased 9″x 5″ loaf pan. Bake 50-60 min, or until cake tester comes out clean (I look for a few mini moist crumbs).

Cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then on a baking rack.

Enjoy!

xx Annette

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S’mores with a twist!

Is there anything more quintessentially summer than s’mores? S’mores are one of those gooey foods that are as fun as they are messy. Seriously. Have you ever NOT had fun making s’mores? I didn’t think so.

These fire and ice s’mores are a twist on the traditional. I’m adding homemade vanilla ice cream to mix things up. Of course, you can stick with the original ingredients, or you can give this one a try.

Fire and Ice S’mores

You will need:

– Marshmallows
– Quality chocolate (try dark chocolate for extra indulgence)
– Healthy graham crackers – available at specialty markets like Whole Foods
– Sea Salt
– Olive Oil
– Vanilla Ice Cream (recipe below!)

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
You will need:
– 2 cups heavy cream
– 1 cup whole milk
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1/8 teaspoon salt
– 3 vanilla beans – split lengthwise
– 2 large eggs
To prepare ice cream:

Combine cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan. With the tip of a knife, scrape seeds from vanilla beans into cream mixture, then drop in pods. Heat cream mixture just to a boil. Whisk eggs in a large bowl, then add hot cream mixture in a slow stream, while whisking. Pour mixture into saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened and registers 170°F on thermometer (do not let boil). Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean metal bowl, then cool, stirring occasionally. Chill, covered, until cold, at least 3 hours. Freeze custard in an ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer.

To Prepare S’mores:

Have guests assemble their S’mores outside by the fire.

In the meantime prepare individual bowls or glasses with a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with a teaspoon on Olive Oil and sprinkled with sea salt.

Have guests grab a bowl and dip their s’more into the ice cream.

*Cooks’ notes: ·To cool custard quickly after straining, set bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stir until chilled. ·Custard can be chilled up to 24 hours.

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Back to Italy:: Air Travel during a Pandemic

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Some of you might be curious to know how my trip back to Italy was with the pandemic.

First off, let me tell you all how I could enter the EU. So many people commented on social media asking me how. Is there a trick? How can I enter Italy? No trick! The simple answer is that only EU residents and citizens may enter. Everyone must self-quarantine for 14 days. I am an Italian resident, so I was able to enter without any issues.

The tale of traveling here was pretty straight forward. I booked a late flight at 11:00 pm with KLM. I purchased a first-class seat, thinking that it would be a safer way to fly. The scariest part of the entire trip was the Atlanta Airport TSA line. I checked in at the international terminal around 9:00 pm. Not a soul at the counter. I wore an N95 mask through the entire airport. When I entered the TSA, there was only one line with no priority line. Everyone was masked, although I did see a lot of bandanas and buffs (you all know those are dangerous right?).

There were clearly demarcated spots on the floor for distancing and everyone stood on their spot. Well except one guy in a wheelchair with his daughter who was pushing me, so I let them ahead. But once we hit the TSA conveyor belt, it was a free for all. No distancing, grabbing, pushing. It was a nightmare! I did everything I could to step away and wait for a moment where there was no one attacking the belt as belongings piled out. I grabbed my stuff and headed for a corner with no one around to get my stuff together. It shook me up. Once I got to my gate, I seated myself all alone in the corner, mask on at all times and waited to board. Now the boarding process that was marvelous. It was so good, in fact, I hope they never bring back to the old way of boarding.

Here’s how it went: one section at a time, you entered the plane individually, and everyone had to remain seated while they called your name. I boarded alone, walked up to my seat, and no one was seated near me. We had 77 people on giant jumbo jet, so there was plenty of distancing. I quickly changed into a more comfortable cloth mask and waited to depart. I slept the entire way and woke up in Amsterdam.

In Amsterdam, everyone in the airport was wearing a mask. I headed to Passport Control to enter the EU. Everyone kept a good distance, and everyone was calm and focused. Security in Amsterdam was well monitored, and everyone was at a distance, filing in one at a time. It was very safe and organized.

I headed to my gate, on the departures board it had a B0 which was different. Usually, the Pisa flight leaves from the C concourse. When I arrived at B0, I realized it was a screening gate. Everyone had temperatures taken. We filled out a tracing form and then headed to our Gate in the C concourse. I sat quietly waiting for my seat and section to be called for the Pisa flight. Everything was very smooth with loading the plane. We all had several seats between us and were not allowed to remove our masks.

When I landed, I was picked up by our car service, Tuscan Drivers, and they whisked me away. The driver wearing an N95 mask I sat in the back. 1 hour and 15 minutes later I was at La Fortezza.  Where I will be quarantining for 14 days.

Lucky for me, the crew finished the new pool just in time, so I have had some relaxing days swimming. Flying and travel will never be the same (well at least for a few years). But here are the things I hope remain when all of this has passed:

  1. Boarding by section and seat (would be extra nice, but I doubt that will remain). Everyone remaining seated until your zone is called. It was wonderful not standing in the giant crowd.
  2. Spotless planes. The KLM plane was brand new and spotless; they cleaned the bathroom every time it was used. YES PLEASE, (sorry but instead of sitting in the back of the plane gossiping, maybe cleaning the bathrooms might be a nice thing for flight attendants to do for the passengers, just saying)
  3. Distancing. All about it.
  4. Mindful lines at TSA. TSA USA could perhaps take lessons from the TSA EU

I am happy to be here prepping for our photo-shoot for La Fortezza Cookbook.

I will let you all know how that went, masking, washing and distancing all while shooting a cookbook in Italy.

xx Annette

 

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July Recap:: Lots of things and offerings

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Ciao All! I hope you are all well and staying safe. I wanted to update all of you about happenings in July. There are lots of things and offerings to discuss…

Offerings: La Fortezza Workshops and Retreats Update

The reality of Italy banning Americans caused us to postpone our SOLD OUT workshops. All of our attendees could not have been more understanding, and for that we are truly grateful. We will have a great time in 2021; I am optimistic about that! As a result of the workshops’ success, we added an extra week with each of these sold out instructors. First, the wonderful and talented stylist, and photographer, Ros Atkinson of “her dark materials”, and then the iconic photographer and incredible instructor Bill Abranowicz. Both will be with us an extra week to conduct workshops. Since their workshops sold out so quickly and had so many inquiries, we decided that we would add another opportunity for everyone to experience these amazing workshops. Check the 2021 La Fortezza Workshop Schedule. It’s really going to be lots of fun.

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Things: New Construction at La Fortezza—our swimming pool

We are finally finishing up the construction of the swimming pool at La Fortezza. It will take a few months to shape it up to get it ready for our guests next year. I am excited to welcome everyone to our pool area next year with Aperol Spritzes under the pergola.

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Things: COOK Corriere 50 Influential Women in Food

I was super honored this month to be included in Italy’s number 1 food publication. COOK- Corriere della Sera. It is the national newspaper’s foodie special interest publication. I was one of the 50 Influential Women in Food celebrated on the cover and inside. I loved the wonderful illustration. Super fun and very humbling. It was a surprise which made it all the more special. The women featured are impressive. They are women I admire, and I even work with some of them, so you can imagine how pleased I was to be included. Definitely a bucket list goal achieved. I will be participating in a virtual food conference with COOK in the fall, too. Stay tuned for more details as we get closer.

 

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Offerings: Italy is My Boyfriend is NOW available in an audio version

July has had lots of surprises. My memoir, Italy is My Boyfriend, came out this month on Audible on Amazon. No, I did not narrate it, as some of you have asked. I wouldn’t have done as well as Devon Sorvari, a trained actress, does. It’s the perfect download for your road trips this summer.

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Things: La Fortezza Cookbook update

I am continuing to work on my upcoming cookbook, La Fortezza Cookbook (Rizzoli NY).
I have been writing and testing recipes all year. I will be shooting it with David Loftus, an English Photographer. He also happens to be Jamie Oliver’s Photographer. I will have an Italian chef and styling team, but it will be a small team considering the times. I am excited to start photographing it. I leave soon to begin the shoot! As a side note, some of you may wonder how I can enter as an American. Because we own a home in Italy, I am an Italian resident, and I live there most of the year. Most likely, I will not be back stateside for some time.

Lastly, I am so sorry that no one from the US is able to join us in Italy this year, but this too will pass. Please wear a mask, stay distant and wash your hands. Let’s squash this thing. We are all in this together. One World, one cause.

xx Annette

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