The Testament of Testaroli

During our 3rd workshop here in Italy at La Fortezza, the emphasis of the workshop was on cooking local. I was thrilled to be able to introduce our attendees and our instructor Sif to one of the most original and authentic dishes in our region. Lunigiana is a mystery to most tourists visiting the region, but the truth is that most Italians are not familiar with the region either. Folks here are extremely proud of the area, and that includes the local products and cuisine. We have loads of products with chestnuts, bread honey, faro, China Amaro, and apple cider.

My dear new friend Giovanna Zurlo of Azienda Agricola di là dall’ Acqua  invited us to an event she was hosting demonstrating the method of how testarolo is prepared.

What’s Testaroli? Wikipedia describes Testaroli as, sometimes referred to as testarolo, it is a type of pasta or bread in Italian cuisine that is prepared using water, flour and salt, which is sliced into triangular shapes. A common dish in the Lunigiana region and historical territory of Italy, it is an ancient pasta originating from the Etruscan civilization of Italy. Testaroli has been described as “the earliest recorded pasta.” It is also a native dish of the southern Liguria and northern Tuscany regions of Italy.

Testaroli is prepared from a batter that is cooked on a hot flat surface, after which it may be consumed. It is traditionally cooked on a testo, a flat terra cotta or cast iron cooking surface from which the food’s name is derived. It is sometimes cooked further in boiling water and then served. Testaroli is sometimes referred to as a bread, similar to focaccia in composition, and is sometimes referred to as a crêpe. It may be dressed with pesto sauce or other ingredients such as olive oil, Pecorino cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and garlic. Falsi testaroli al ragu is a similar dish prepared using sliced pasta dough and a ragù sauce.

All I know is that the demonstration was amazing. Over an open fire, the pan is heated and then the crepe-like batter is ladled into the white hot pan. It cooks in minutes and then is served with charcuterie. The alternate version of preparation is that the crepe is cut into bite size squares or triangles and boiled briefly about 30 seconds and served with pesto or ragu, like pasta.

We all enjoyed a dinner together under the stars of local goat cheese and focaccia then the testaroli with pesto and local wine. Sharing this local cuisine and talking about the local products with our workshop instructor and attendees was truly magical and exactly what we wanted to accomplish. Eating local is the way of life here, and it’s my goal to share this region with all our attendees one dish at a time.

All baking behind the scenes cooking dinner party Entertaining Events italian cooking italy Notes from Italy Personal photography photostyling photostyling like a pro The Fortress Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Cooking Healthy and Local Workshop with Sif Orellana

FullSizeRender 3 FullSizeRender

Sif Orellana is a force of nature. I have followed her on Instagram for years, and you should too. She’s creative, and oh so talented. We have been IG friends for a while, and when I finally met her in real life, she did not disappoint. In fact she’s even more wonderful which I thought would not be possible.

IMG_9102

She arrived from Denmark 1 day before her workshop, and we headed out to an incredible local grocery store here in Italy. Here the super stores are really SUPER. She, like me, LOVES to grocery shop. Her eyes widened when we stepped in to my favorite grocery in all of Italy Esselunga. Read all about it; it has an unusual history and has been around since 1957. Our nearest store has 2 floors and is incredible. We spent the better part of 2 hours buying items for her workshop, but the rest of the produce came right out of my garden.

IMG_9061

Everyone arrived on Wednesday. When we all met at the welcome dinner, it was love at first site. What a wonderful group we had. So smart, energetic, and full of life. They had amazing questions and got on with Sif like a house on fire. I don’t think they took a breath until they parted ways.

Cooking in the kitchen with Sif was such fun a whirlwind of activity. Our chef, Teri, and I were non stop making sure all the attendees were busy with cooking chores. The kitchen turned out Sif’s delish and healthy recipes. Some recipes were from her new venture, a healthy restaurant in Aarhus, Denmark called Greenilicious. If you’re in the area ,by all means stop by. Sif’s super electric energy and great tips made for a wonderful meeting of the minds both in the studio and in the kitchen.

FullSizeRender 2 IMG_9110

We headed out of the kitchen for two local food excursions, too. One was to our favorite baker Fabio at l Forno in Canoara di Fabio Bertolucci; you can read about him here.

IMG_9130 IMG_9143 IMG_9184 IMG_9167 IMG_9193

We also had supper at a local agriturismo di la dall’aqua and watched the ancient preparation of Testerolo, a large crepe which is then cut up into square, boiled for 30 seconds, and served with pesto or ragu, thought to be one of the first inceptions of pasta in Italy. Giovanna, the owner, is a gracious and attentive host, and she is also the local food ambassador to the region. She was kind enough to pop in on Friday and familiarize our attendees of all the local product produced in the region. We had a magical evening at her location and learned a lot about the local cuisine.

fullsizeoutput_4543

I loved spending time with everyone learning their stories and their dreams and goals. Fingers crossed Sif will have time to come back and teach again; she’s such a great addition to our team.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Sif. You really gave it 150%. You’re a powerhouse of creativity and wisdom.

Thanks to Luba for some of these super captures!

 

All behind the scenes cooking dinner party Entertaining Events Food styling how to be a stylist italian cooking italy magazine styling Meet the Team Notes from Italy photography photostyling photostyling like a pro secrets on how to become a stylist style lessons Styling stylist tips tips from a stylist Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ice Cream 5 Ways: The Perfect Summer Treat

Over the years, I have made my fair share of ice cream recipes, and they're all pretty fabulous. Here are my favorite ice cream recipes (and one sorbet)! I must be honest: all of these #nationalwhatever days are hard to keep up with. However, if there was one that I was going to get excited about, it would be National Ice Cream Day. Of course, as you’ll see by Instagram, National Ice Cream Day was yesterday, but I happen to think you can celebrate ice cream any day you want.

Over the years, I have made my fair share of ice cream recipes, and they’re all pretty fabulous. There are few things as sweet as ending a hot summer day with a big scoop of homemade ice cream. I scoured through my archives and found a few of my favorite ice cream recipes (and one sorbet) for you today. These are all perfect for a summer cookout or patio dinner party. Let me know if you give any a try.

Campari Orange Sorbet

Cinnamon Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce

Licorice Ice Cream

Mascarpone Ice Cream

Panforte Ice Cream Affogato

xx Annette

All celebration cooking dinner party Entertaining my picks Recipes spring desserts Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , ,

4th of July Recipe Round Up

Hi Everyone! I’m Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend, and today, I’m bringing you a 4th of July recipe round up. I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it again, the fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. For the past eight years, we’ve spent the holiday at the beach with my husband’s family, and we’re here again having a great time. It’s always so much fun.

Since we’re at the beach to celebrate, we’re always looking for easy recipes that we can recreate without much effort. We’re on vacation after all! Thank goodness for the power of Pinterest. I don’t know about you, but I always find some of the best ideas there, and 9 times out of 10, they’re easy to execute.

Here are some of my favorite 4th of July recipes that I found this year. On our menu? Patriotic ice cream sandwiches. And of course, we wouldn’t skip the sparkling sangria!

Photo by Pizzazzerie.

Photo by Pizzazzerie.

Kick off your holiday with an appetizer for a crowd. This cheese and onion dip with festive accruements had me at hello. It’s such a clever idea to cut tortillas into star shapes with cookie cutters. Then all you need to do is add stripes of red pepper for dipping, too and voila!

Photo by Gimme Some Oven

Photo by Gimme Some Oven

Don’t put away the cookie cutters just yet. Instead, use them again to make festive star shapes out of fruit for a sparkling sangria. This recipe sounds yummy and fresh. Add some red, white, and blue straws or cocktail napkins to really celebrate.

Photo by Just a Taste

Photo by Just a Taste

Photo by Freutcake

Photo by Freutcake

Of course, no celebration is complete without an easy dessert. We’ve got our eyes on these patriotic ice cream sandwiches, but this easy ice cream cake looks amazing, too! And if you decided to make both, I’d be okay with that too. It is a celebration after all!

Have a wonderful 4th of July!

xo, Nicole

4th of July All celebration Cocktail of the Week Cocktails cooking Entertaining Holiday Parties party tips Recipes specialty cocktails Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Epic Summer Grilling Menu

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend, and I’m back with one epic summer grilling menu. Like most of you, one of the things that I love turning to Annette for is a recipe. She just has a knack for creating something gorgeous and delicious. It’s so inspiring!

Since Wednesday marks the official first day of summer, we’re about to be in the thick of grilling season. We have a Big Green Egg, so we spend a lot of our summer evenings outdoors near the grill. Not only is it a quintessential summer activity, but it also means I don’t have to turn on the oven. Win win.

I thought I’d round-up a few of Annette’s summer grilling recipes from over the years. Not only are these recipes stand-alone favorites, but put them together, and they make up one heck of a summer menu. Invite your friends and family over for an evening of fun and food on the grill!

grilled-veggies

Awesome Appetizer: Grilled Veggie Antipasto

2014-04-26_16-24-36

Main Course: Lamb Burger

photo1-e1401026211204-517x690

Sensational Side: Watermelon Salad  

As always, I’d love to hear if you give any of these recipes a try! What are some of your favorite summer recipes?

xo, Nicole

4th of July All celebration cooking dinner party Entertaining grilling Parties Recipes Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , ,