All About Olives Workshop Recap

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What can I say? Our All About Olives Workshop went off without a hitch. Perfect group, perfect weather, and perfect instructors, Emily Followill and Alisa Barry.

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This is Emily’s second time teaching with us in Italy, and it will not be the last time. She’s an amazing teacher and mentor, and most of all, she’s a just a wonderful person to be around. She had many lessons for our attendees and was most importantly loads of fun.

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We enjoyed hiking through the olive grove and seeing the olive harvest in full swing. Our picnic in the olive grove after a long morning trekking was picture perfect. It included the ever popular brown butter chocolate chip cookies, Teri’s super secret recipe. Let’s just say they are the best cookie I have every tasted, and our attendees agreed. A beautiful vegetable torta baked by Alisa was a special treat while we enjoyed the sunshine on our faces. We also stuffed ourselves with homemade focaccia sandwiches, so thanks to Teri, we could barely get up to go to our cooking lesson that afternoon with Alisa. I think we would have all loved a nice nap under the olive trees.

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Saturday we all went to see the olives pressed. We had tastes of the fresh press and of course, stocked up on fresh olive oil to take home.

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In a tiny village, we enjoyed a tour of a small family winery and then an amazing lunch in the family owned restaurant where 2 sisters run the show. We had crepes filled with nettles and pasta with sausage and greens, housemade wine, and delicate desserts with strong espresso to wash it down. It was the most incredible little lunch stop for our group.

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The workshop was a smashing success. I made new friends and reconnected with old friends as we had several attendees who had returned. It really makes me happy that people want to join us again and again. I love welcoming everyone, and I love leisurely suppers where everyone shares stories and dreams and goals. My goal next season is to have everyone join us and experience our tiny piece of heaven here in the Italian countryside. Until then, ci vediamo spero a presto xx

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7 things I learned about truffle hunting in Italy

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First of all, I thought I have the best job in the world…I thought that until a few weeks ago that is…

I had an opportunity to go truffle hunting with a certified guide and his wonder truffle dog, Tito. In the name of research, I had to go for my workshop attendees. Let’s get it straight: my job doesn’t suck, however here’s why I think in another life, I will be a truffle hunter. Full disclosure: truffles are one of my favorite things on the planet, and it’s no wonder that hunting for them proved to me why they are so incredible as an ingredient.

I met Simone and Tito at a designated location, and then we headed off into the mountains for my first ever truffle hunting experience. You may remember I went to a truffle festival in Alba, in the Piedmont a couple years ago. But this, my friends, was truly a bucket list moment for me.

Okay back to Simone and Tito. Tito is a truffle dog, so of course I had a million questions for Simone about how one trains a truffle dog. The breed has been bred specifically for this purpose: to sniff out the yummy goodness of the truffle buried beneath the forest floor. It’s called the Lagotto Romagnolo; that’s a mouth full. Tito was in the back of the car crated and quiet. We drove up the mountain with my never ending questions about training Tito. Simone was very patient in explaining that one must spend many many many hours training these dogs. First you feed the puppies truffles, so they get a sniff and a taste for them (see even the dogs think they are yummy). Then hand signals, treats and even getting on your hands and knees to show them how to gently dig, so as not to break the truffle. Foraging the woods is a team effort. These 2 make the perfect team as I found out after 3 hours of foraging in the beautiful countryside. It was exciting and zen all at the same time. Hence my epiphany that I should have been a truffle hunter. Walking in nature endlessly looking for these hidden treasures was something that was heavenly to me. I learned a lot about truffles and hunting in these 3 hours spent with the ultimate hunting team.

What I learned about truffles:

  1. There are 7 types of truffles that one can legally hunt in Italy.
  2. Hunting for truffles is a year round activity (I thought it was only fall but no, Simone and Tito hunt all year).
  3. Moisture has much to do with the harvest, and rain is a very important factor in the quantity of truffles annually. The more rain, the more truffles.
  4. Hunting with dogs is far superior to pigs as dogs are more delicate and hunt with their paws, and pigs dig up truffles with their snouts often breaking the truffles.
  5. Truffles can be found all over the forest floors, not just the roots of trees.
  6. White truffles are harder to find and much more delicate to extract from the earth than black truffles
  7. There’s actually a school where guides can go to learn to guide truffle hunts

Needless to say, we had to eat truffles for lunch and the perfect place was right up the road. My tortellone with ricotta and egg sprinkled with black truffles was divine. The perfect end to a cool day hunting what I love with a great guide and a spectacular dog, Tito, who won my heart.

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If you’re interested in hunting truffles, you will have an opportunity at our upcoming workshop in 2018 as this will become a staple of the offerings for our free day.

All hail Tito, too! Now I want a truffle dog. xx

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My Life in Photos, July

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. We drank wine from our vineyard. We learned invaluable cooking tips from Sif.

Needless to say, it’s been busy!

Here’s a look at everything that has been going on. Be sure to follow me on Instagram for more shots of Italy and on the style+photo feed on Instagram for more shots of our workshops and The Fortress.

xx Annette

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. Here's a look at everything!

Happy Friday! When your vintner drops off your bottles with your label now I feel like a vineyard owner!

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. Here's a look at everything!

Outdoor movies on the terrace Fridays are the best.

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. Here's a look at everything!

Sunday morning coffee gram; this view never gets old!

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. Here's a look at everything!

Prop shopping!

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. Here's a look at everything!

We’ve been experiencing an incredible workshop strictly styling workshop with Sarah Dorio as our photographer.

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. Here's a look at everything!

Okay, so this is the best day ever!!!!

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. Here's a look at everything!

Vineyard view last night we drank wine in our vineyard.

What can I say? July has been a whirlwind. We hosted not one, but two style+photo workshops at The Fortress. Here's a look at everything!

Lunch with Sif Orellana; she’s extraordinary. It’s been pure magic!

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My Life in Photos, April

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Can you believe that April is almost over? It’s been a busy month, but I’ve loved every second of it. April has been full of wrapping-up phase one of our Italian renovation, whipping-up spring recipes using veggies from my garden, and putting the finishing touches on book two.

I’m both exhausted and excited thinking about it all.

As most of you know, I adore Instagram. It’s truly a place where I can share all of my goings on with you. However, I know some of you like to visit the blog instead, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite photos from April with you here. There’s so much color, beauty, and of course, memories in these photos. Enjoy!

xx Annette

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Our master bath door waiting to be installed at our renovation.

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Many people ask me how long it takes to put a book together. When I hand in the final manuscript plus all the photos, it will be 3 years.

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How cute was Vivi as a puppy? We brought her home 5 years ago.

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This torta pasqualina was featured on City Sage a few weeks ago.

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Props, props, and more props for Cocktail Italiano.

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That’s a wrap on photographing book 2! Love this mash-up of the wrap party for Picture Perfect Parties 5 years ago.

 

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Spring Gardening Tips & Tricks

Today I'm discussing spring gardening tips and tricks. I've been scouring my favorite publications, and I thought I'd share what I've been learning.

Hi Everyone! I’m Nicole, Annette’s web-manager. I am back today to discuss spring gardening tips and tricks. When Annette talks about the fruits and vegetables she grows in her garden, I am always inspired. So, this year my husband and I are getting a head start on a garden of our own.

We actually pulled out the Farmer’s Almanac and did quite a bit of research about not only what grows in the spring, but what grows in Georgia. So far, we’re set on planting okra, peppers, and squash (mostly so I can make stuffed squash blossoms).

Today I'm discussing spring gardening tips and tricks. I've been scouring my favorite publications, and I thought I'd share what I've been learning.

I’ve been scouring Pinterest along with some of my favorite publications, and I thought I would share a little bit about what I’ve been learning about spring gardening. Consider this post a great starter resource that combines Martha’s knowledge with Real Simple’s ease.

Today I'm discussing spring gardening tips and tricks. I've been scouring my favorite publications, and I thought I'd share what I've been learning.

Tips and Tricks for Spring Gardening

  1. You can start planting carrots, radishes, and spinach now without worrying about that last lingering frost. Apparently these veggies can withstand light freezing temperatures, but make sure to cover them if it gets too cool out.
  2. Spring is also a great time to plant potatoes. They might be a fun item to plant around St. Patrick’s Day! I love red potatoes, and I am already dreaming of whipping up Annette’s Ligurian Pesto Pasta with green beans and red potatoes.
  3. At home soil tests can tell you a lot about what you’re working with. Martha recommends taking several samples and then using your discoveries to apply different fertilizers.
  4. Remember your zone. It will help you know when and what to plant.
  5. Don’t forget to prep your garden tools and gloves. Besides actually locating them all, remember to clean them all. You can use soap and water and give them a good scrub. Toss those old garden gloves in the washing machine, or simply buy new ones all together.

Is anyone out there a master gardener? I would love to hear your tips!

xo, Nicole

Images by Deborah Whitlaw Llewelleyn & Annette Joseph

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