Our fall workshop instructors are amazing

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I’m so excited about our La Fortezza fall workshop instructors roster. It just keeps getting better and better, I swear!

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Starting in September, I will be guiding a slow food experience The Lunigiana Slow Food Experience~ September 4th-9th. I am so excited to make this food forward retreat the most exciting foodies’ retreat yet. Harvest in our vineyard, make handmade pasta, meet all my foodie friends, make tomato sauce, jams, and pickled vegetables from our kitchen garden. Relax, do yoga, and enjoy all that the Italian countryside has to offer; we will pamper you and you will leave refreshed, rested and inspired.

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September 11th- 16th Antiques and Merchants of Italy-  You know how much I love cooking, but right up there is shopping. Since living in Italy, I have loved attending monthly antique fairs, and perusing the local flea markets, and shopping with local bespoke artisans in nearby towns. I’m so happy Antiques Expert Lisa Burnett of Inner Pieces Inc. will be lending her expertise. Lisa and I have been friends for 20 years, and she’s my go to person if I am buying antique pieces. She will be my co-leader and guide to all things vintage, antique and stylish. We will shop private vendors, my go to flea markets, and we will take you shopping in various towns that feature store after store of art, handmade clothing and accessories. Of course there will be beautiful food and wine, and lots of Aperol Spritzes, Lisa’s favorite cocktail. Join us and shop ’til you drop!

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October 9-14th Lifestyle Photography Workshop~ William Abranowicz, world renowned lifestyle and interiors photographer, with beautiful coffee table books to his credit like his latest book America Originals . He will work with students as a group each morning with one on one instruction throughout each day.  Participants will be taught to simplify the technical aspects of photography, understand light and composition to create well executed, emotionally impactful images, and to edit to form a concise visual articulation of what we see and hope to say. This is a once in a lifetime experience. Honestly I can hardly believe he said yes when I asked him to come teach at La Fortezza. Bill is a gentleman and a scholar – spending days with him creating will be an amazing experience. Spots are limited, so grab your spot before they are all gone. I am beyond thrilled to welcome Bill and all attendees to this special creative retreat.

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October 16th-21st Her Dark Materials Old Masters Still Life Photography Workshop~ I have been obsessed with “her dark materials” unique photography for years. I literally am bringing her to La Fortezza to watch her work. Her sense of composition is like nothing I have ever seen. True that Old Masters still life photography is all over the place, but Ros’s approach is both gorgeous and leaves me breathless. I told her that if no one signs up for her workshop I will be the only student, so I don’t care if anyone shows up I selfishly want her to myself… Ros Atkinkson, the photographer behind @her_dark_materials and a still life and food photographer who has achieved international recognition for her Old Masters style set ups and lighting will take students through the process of creating an Old Masters scene. Learn as she teaches you how to choose the right camera setting, capture the light in the best possible way and style using props and local produce. You’ll be guided in how to capture the scene, from tiniest details to the whole frame while using camera settings to maximize the use of light and shadow. I am SO excited to welcome Ros to La Fortezza this year…I am hoping it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and she comes year after year.

xx Annette

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Fall 2019 La Fortezza Workshops Launch

I am beyond excited to announce our roster of fall 2019 La Fortezza workshops in Italy. I have really listened to the feedback of past workshop attendees, and I think that fall simply put, “nails it.”

We have a variety of workshops that speak to everyone. There will be food-forward workshops, shopping excursion workshops and photography workshops with incredible talents and professionals. We want to make our workshops the best they can be, so thank you to all who participated last year and gave us such great advice.

Ready to see what’s in store?

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September 4th – 9th

First off is my Preserving Italy Workshop. We will dive deep into the region I call home, the Lunigiana. I feel passionate about sharing this unknown, and in some cases untouched, region. The people of this region work the land, live off the land and truly live seasonally. I like to say that I learned about the seasons here since we live season to season year after year.

The food artisans, the farmers, the vintners, the cheese makers and the fresh olive oil producers are a way of life. It’s the most authentic life I’ve known. We will be cooking throughout our workshop with Chef Philip and with locals too. I will share it all with you at our beautiful location, La Fortezza, overlooking mountains, vineyards and villages. I am thrilled to show you my secret Italy.

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September 11th – 16th

This one is all about shopping. If you follow me on Instagram , then you know how much I love shopping flea markets in Italy. How would you like to come along and shop with me? This workshop is geared toward the flea market shopper although shopping at this retreat will be peppered with plenty of artisan finds including handmade handbags and bespoke seaside markets.

Coming along to lend her expertise is professional picker and antiques expert Lisa Burnett of Inner Pieces. She will be leading the group and sharing her incredible eye with all of us. This is the perfect girlfriend retreat because of course there will be cooking classes and great food, lots of wine and Aperol Spritzes, Lisa’s favorite Italian Cocktail, and a little yoga as well. I cannot wait. These spots will be snatched-up fast, so don’t think about it; just do it!

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October 9th – 15th

I can’t believe he said ‘yes” when I asked him, but one of my all time favorite photographers is coming to teach lifestyle photography at La Fortezza. I think I jumped up and down for 10 minutes when he agreed. William Abranowicz is an icon in the photography world with many books under his belt. He has shot for every single magazine in the world. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I cannot tell you how much you will learn seeing the world through your lens with Bill as your instructor. He will be able to work with you one on one since the class is small. Imagine working with a world class photographer! Well my friends, you no longer have to imagine it. Just grab your place, and you can. I am beyond excited that we will be hosting Bill. This workshop will sell out fast, so don’t hesitate come to Italy and up your photography game. This is a “pinch me” experience, believe me!

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October 16th – 21st

Ros Atkinkson, Her_Dark_Materials on Instagram, will host our final workshop of the season. I invited Ros and selfishly told her I don’t care if it’s just she and I because I want to learn from her, and I want to walk around in her brain (I know I sound obsessed…and I am). Her still life photography moves me because the emotion and incredibly complex composition makes my heart sing. I was so pleased when she agreed to come and teach at La Fortezza. Apologies for all of the gushing, but I have a serious girl crush on Ros.

Come play with us! If you’re a fan of composition, food styling, photography or beauty in the highest form, please join us. Like I said, I’m happy if you can join us, and fine if you don’t because sharing Ros and her talent is going to be tough for me. There will be plenty of food, and wine and inspiration.

Who’s joining the fun in fall 2019? Book your spot today! 

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Sunday Supper:: Sausage and Peppers

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This easy sausage and peppers one pan dinner is the perfect one pan meal. It’s especially wonderful for a weekend after hosting friends and family (hint, hint – if you’re hosting Easter brunch, I’m talking to you!). You put everything on one dish, pop it into the oven and forget about it.

If you’re not hosting this weekend, tuck this recipe away for the future. This comfort food favorite is a great Sunday Supper option as it’s easy to prepare, delicious, and serves a crowd. Add some crunchy bread and a salad, and you’re all set.

Here’s my recipe from Picture Perfect Parties, my cookbook. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Sausage and Peppers One Pan Dinner
Serves 8
You will need:

– 6 Italian sausages
– 2 red peppers sliced
– 2 hot banana peppers sliced
– 1 jalapeno pepper minced
– 2 green peppers sliced
– 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
– 4 cloves of garlic minced
– ¼ cup olive oil
– 1 teaspoon salt

To prepare:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Slice the peppers and the sausage into bite size pieces. In a large bowl toss all the ingredients and mix well. Place mixture into a ceramic baking dish. Bake for 1 ½ hours and serve warm. Garnish with assorted herbs like rosemary, parsley, oregano, or chives.

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Savory Mushroom Soup

Can you believe this week wraps-up Juice January? Congratulations for cleaning-up your routine and getting a great start on 2019! You did it!

Over the years, I’ve gone from a strict juice regime to incorporating healthier meals. I hope you’ve enjoyed all of the recipes this month and that you’ve found a few favorites to add to your repertoire. This savory mushroom soup might be another great recipe to add!

It’s a fantastic recipe for chilly winter nights. You will love it. It’s hearty and homey. I like to add a dollop of plain yogurt and chopped chives to top off this rich luscious soup.

Savory Mushroom Soup
serves 4-6

You will need:
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 teaspoon of sea salt
– 1 shallot chopped fine
– 3 stalks of celery chopped
– 2 large carrots cut into coins
– 3 small zucchinis cut into bite sized pieces
– 2 pints mixed mushrooms, like shitake, and portabellas, enoki
– 2 bulbs of garlic roasted whole
– 1 1/2 cups brown lentils
– 1 quart chicken broth or vegetable broth
– 1/3 cup chopped parsley
– 1/4 cup of plain yogurt
– chopped chives
– roasted garlic*

To prepare:
Chop vegetables, shallot, celery, carrots, zucchini, and mushrooms. Place in a large cast iron stock pot. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and saute over medium heat until transparent and wilted. Add the roasted garlic by squeezing the roasted garlic cloves into the pot and stir to combine all the ingredients. Add parsley, lentils and broth. Simmer over low heat for 2-3 hours. Serve.

I like to add a dollop of plain yogurt and chopped chives to top off this rich luscious soup.

*To prepare roasted garlic: place whole bulbs of garlic wrapped in aluminum foil in the oven on 325 for 1 hour until garlic is soft and fragrant.

Photo by me

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Guest Post from Yaniv Cohen:: Let’s talk about spices

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You are going to love our guest contributor today…Yaniv aka The Spice Detective. Yaniv and I met through mutual friends in Mykonos about 10 years ago. He was working as partner in a big Miami/NY catering company, and obviously we had tons in common, food events, you get the picture. We hit it off like a house on fire. Over the years, he has continued to build his company. We have kept in touch, and a few years ago Yaniv starting sharing his healthy recipes and his healing spice philosophies. I was hooked. I loved the idea and the shift in focus he had. I was impressed. So that is why I wanted to have him share his knowledge with you in a post for Juice January, and lucky for me, he agreed. Thank you Yaniv! xx I have a feeling this will not be your last time on my blog sharing amazing, healing and delicious recipes.

Take it away Yaniv…

Let’s talk about spices…and health. Many of you might not be aware of the incredible power of spices…

So what are spices? A spice is a seed, fruit, root, bark, or other plant substance primarily used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food. Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are the leaves, flowers, or stems of plants used for flavoring or as a garnish.

Have you ever wondered why steamy, humid hot climate regions typically have the spiciest cuisines? And why spices are more commonly used in warmer climates? Think about India, north Africa and Thailand  for instance. The answer is simple: spices have powerful antimicrobial properties which helps preserve food and meats in regions around of the globe that have more infectious diseases due to the climate conditions.

But spices are more than just antimicrobial powders. Spices contain anti-inflammatory agents. They are full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, too. So for your next meal, sprinkle more spices on your vegetables, meats, fish, desserts and drinks.

If you need ideas, information, and recipes I invite you to get inspired by following me, The Spice Detective, on Instagram and join me on the spice trail.

Since there is so much to say about spices, and not nearly enough time to do so, I selected one of my favorites, turmeric, to share with you today.

Turmeric is a spice that’s no longer an enigma. From its amber color and its earthy aroma to its unique medicinal properties, it’s easy to see why this golden yellow powder rightly earned the title of the spice that heals. Known as the anti-inflammatory spice, turmeric is one of the most scientifically researched spices to date—with a history that goes back as far as thousands of years. Not only does it bring color and flavor to a bowl of white rice, but it actually acts as a one stop shop for your entire medicine cabinet.

Here is an easy yet delicious recipe  to combine my beloved cauliflower with my favorite spice, turmeric. Cauliflower is finally becoming more popular in American cuisine. It is healthy, delicious, versatile and beautiful. This recipe produces a gorgeous side dish that deserves to be a star on any dinner table. In addition, this is what I’d like to call easy, breezy, lemon squeezy! Simple to make, delicious to taste and healthy to no end!

 Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower
 serves 2-4

 You will need:
– 6 qt (6 l) water
– 2 tbsp (30 g) turmeric
– 3 tbsp (45 g) salt, plus extra, to taste
– 1 whole cauliflower
– 4 tbsp (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
– Pepper, to taste
– Few thyme springs
– Tahini for serving (optional)
– Cilantro chutney (optional)

To prepare:
Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C).

In a large pot, bring the water, turmeric and salt to a boil. Reduce the heat and carefully add the whole cauliflower. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender but not falling apart.

Place the cauliflower on a baking sheet, drizzle the olive oil over it, sprinkle the thyme and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the top of the cauliflower is lightly charred. Remove from the oven and place on a serving plate. Serve drizzle tahini and cilantro chutney and serve.

For the Cilantro Chutney

You will need:
– 1/2 cup olive oil
– 2 bunches cilantro
– 4 garlic cloves
– 1 jalapeno
– cumin, salt, and pepper to taste

To prepare:

Mix two bunches of cilantro, 4 garlic cloves and one jalapeno in a food proceed and work until finely chopped.

Place in a mixing bowl, add half a cup of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste along with a dash of cumin and mix well.

For Tahini

You will need:
– 1 cup tahini
– 1 cup water
– 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
– 3 garlic cloves, crushed
– salt and pepper to taste

To prepare:

Mix one cup of raw tahini with one cup of water , 2 tablespoons of lemon juice salt and pepper to taste and 3 crushed garlic cloves in a mixing bowl. Whip thoroughly for 10 minutes until smooth tahini forms. If too thick, add little more water and whip again.

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