Announcement: Fall 2018 Workshops in the Italian Countryside

It is with great pleasure I announce the Fall 2018 workshop roster. Join us next year for our most exciting workshop series to date. Come along!

It is with great pleasure I announce the Fall 2018 workshop roster.

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In September:

Domenica-Marchetti-533x800 We have some amazing workshops to offer next fall. Join us for Preserving Workshop with author of the book, Preserving Italy. Acclaimed Italian cookbook author, Domenica Marchetti, will be the instructor for our first ever workshop on canning and preserving in the Italian tradition. Italians are masters at the art of preserving the bounty of the seasons – summer’s tomatoes and zucchini; September’s peppers and figs; winter’s citrus. Domenica has meticulously documented the recipes and techniques of Italian food artisans in her book, Preserving Italy: Canning, Curing, Infusing, and Bottling Italian Flavors and Traditions. During this one-of-a-kind workshop, we will spend five days in the glorious Tuscan countryside harvesting fruit and vegetables from La Fortezza’s own organic garden and transforming them into jams, pickles, and other preserved foods. We will also hit the road and visit Parma for more culinary inspiration and ingredients (think Parmigiano-Reggiano and balsamic vinegar. And we’ll meet a local food artisan who makes chestnut honey.

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We will also have Abstract Painting lead by Steve McKenzie. A nationally known abstract painter, this workshop will teach you techniques to intuitively paint abstraction, discover your inner creative voice and transfer that energy to the canvas. This creative retreat includes a multitude of excursions to local museums to study art and discuss how classic renaissance art can inform your abstractions. Steve will be teaching in the visual splendor of The Fortress’s expansive studio located on the grounds in an old stone barn, and the surrounding Tuscan landscape. Steve will guide your painting experience to reflect the juxtaposition of the beauty you observe with an abstract interpretation. In addition, the class will discuss the principles of painting and how to use them in your work. Time will also be spent merging your artwork and your social media. You will expand your artistic horizons in one of the most inspiring places in the world, Italy.

In October:

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In October, join us for The Ultimate Food Photography and Food Styling Experience. We will be hosting one of my mentors, amazing food stylist, culinary guru and professional cookbook photographer and food writer, Angie Mosier. Her work has been seen in Food & Wine, Town and Country, The New York Times, Southern Living, Atlanta Magazine, Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, and Garden and Gun. Her essays on Southern cakes, pies and traditional meals can be read in The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture.  She has collaborated with cookbook and craft authors such as John T. Edge, Matt Lee and Ted Lee, Virginia Willis, Natalie Chanin, and the Southern Foodways Alliance.  Angie is honored to have worked as co-author and photographer on Chef Eric Ripert’s most recent book, Avec Eric, as well as photography for John T. Edge’s, The Truck Food Cookbook, Kevin Gillespie’s book, Fire in My Belly, and John Currence’s book, Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey.

We are still working on details, but if you would like to work with a food styling legend, this is this is the workshop for you. Dates will be announced next month. Feel free to email me to get on the list I have a feeling this will sell out fast annette@annettejosephstyle.com. 

One more thing: in September, check out Canadian Stylist and Culinary Expert Marisa Curatolo. She will be here at La Fortezza conducting her first ever Italian Culinary Retreat. She will be your guide alongside local experts. Cook with the finest produce, frequent antique markets, and savor the Italian country lifestyle.

Please feel free to email any questions I look forward to hosting everyone next fall. xx

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A special place for balsamic vinegar: a passion and a mission

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Deep into the Emilia Romagna region of Italy there is a beautiful little hamlet called Albinea where a beautiful former fashion house makes the most amazingly delicious balsamic vinegar in the world.

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I was lucky enough to meet one of the owners through a friend; an introduction I will forever be grateful for. Cristina met me at the gate. Dressed fashionably, her dark wavy hair elegantly styled and a little bit out of place. Behind the gate was the most beautiful estate. It is her family’s, of course,  and like all estates in Italy, a bit rough around the edges. It is a work in progress much like most things precious in Italy. For me, this always makes the location even more charming and alluring. As Cristina walked us around, she lovingly described her childhood here her father, the head of a major Italian fashion brand, and his passion for food and mostly balsamico. His hobby, well his passion, was making the strong syrupy stuff, and as you walk up to the attic where the original kernel of the idea for this brand was born, you can almost feel it. Stuffed into the attic of the main house are the ancient casks of her father’s original recipe. The scent as you climb the stairs hits you in the face with the sweet and sour notes of the vinegar. As Cristina describes the process, you can tell she too has the passion that her father has for the product.

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After a very informative talk by Cristina, we headed down the spiral stairs to the very beautifully designed tasting room to taste all the different incarnations of balsamic vinegar. From the mild notes to the heady sweet and syrupy symphony of the most concentrated flavor, we had an education in the aging process and the misconception of how balsamic vinegar is aged for 15 20 or even 40 years. There is a range, and no balsamic can have a printed label that states it’s been aged for a finite number of years, since it is mixed with older batches the aging process is a fluid number.

The grounds are breathtaking, and this year Il Borgo del Balsamico opened a few rooms, so that people can stay and enjoy the entire experience. As you can imagine, the rooms are perfectly appointed, and the service is impeccable. I urge you to make a reservation.

Unfortunately this product is not yet available in the US, so you’ll have to make the journey there. Located right near Bologna and Parma, it is the perfect foodie destination.

Thank you to Cristina and her beautiful family for the amazing tour. Please book my room for next spring I will be back. xx

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September is Sagra Season

What the heck is a "sagra"? A sagra is a local festival, mostly held in villages, all over the Italian countryside. Join me as I share my sagra experiences!

What the heck is a “sagra“? A sagra is a local festival, mostly held in villages, all over the Italian countryside. It’s something that I really had no experience with since we lived in a seaside town for so many years. I vaguely knew what it was from visiting friends in the countryside, but I had never attended one. This year, as you know, we moved to the countryside, and there are sagre (sagre, plural) everywhere. Usually tied in someway to food, apples, polenta, truffles, boars…you get the picture. The village gathers in the main square (in most cases) or even a field or the streets. Since it’s hosted by the village for the surrounding area, everyone turns out. Sometimes there are food trucks or food vendors, and usually there’s an open fire somewhere where a local specialty is being cooked by your neighbors, or yummy things are being fried or grilled. There are lots of families and of course family activities like jumpy houses.

What the heck is a "sagra"? A sagra is a local festival, mostly held in villages, all over the Italian countryside. Join me as I share my sagra experiences!

It’s a great way to raise money for the community. Communities here are a very tight knit group. Plus everyone can come together and celebrate the season. Needless to say, it’s a great place to people watch, catch-up with folks in the neighborhood, eat great food, and drink local wine. Most likely these festivals originated from old country fairs or harvest celebrations. It’s easy to attend a sagra because everyone is welcome. Look for signs along the road near villages, the theme (most often food related) will be on the poster along with the dates. They are usually held on the weekends, and keep in mind these are nighttime events usually starting at about 8:00 pm.

Most sagre are set up the same: you buy a food and drink ticket, and then they bring your order to your table. The way it works most often is they either give you a number for your table, or they come pick up your ticket, retrieve the order, and bring it to you. Knowing the ropes is super helpful. Next time you’re in Italy and nearing a village, look for the posters. You can’t go wrong or more authentic.

We are attending several this fall; I am seriously thinking this might just be my next cookbook.

Sagre of Italy…xx

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My Life in Photos, August

As August comes to a close, I am spending some time reflecting on our absolutely amazing summer here in Italy. As most of you know, it was our first summer conducting workshops from our new home, La Fortezza, and it’s been a huge success.

I’ve spent August thinking about the workshops – what worked and what didn’t – and planning for the next round of workshops to come. We have our olive workshop in November along with an awesome summer line-up coming your way in the next few months.

My life in photos for August have been full of antique shopping, delicious meals straight from our garden, and a few fun days of exploring. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram. There’s always something to see and things to do here, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing like a cocktail on the terrace.

Happiness is my kitchen in Italy. It greets me every morning and makes my day!

Happiness is my kitchen in Italy. It greets me every morning and makes my day!

What's for dinner?

What’s for dinner?

I call this "dinner for two."

I call this “dinner for two.”

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#drinkmorewine

Sarzana is the best kept secret in Italy.

Sarzana is the best kept secret in Italy.

 

Rainbow in the street.

Rainbow in the street.

xx Annette

Photos by me and Pictory Video.

 

 

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Melissa’s Tearoom and Cakes Sarzana, Italy

As you know from my last post, I am in love with the little right down the road from us town, Sarzana, Italy, and Melissa's Tearoom and Cakes is a gem. FullSizeRender 3

Ciao! As you know from my last post, I am in love with the little town right down the road from us town, Sarzana, Italy.  My sweet friend from Berlin, Heike, told me that I needed to check out this cute tearoom, Melissa’s Tearoom and Cakes, while I was there, and mostly I needed to follow her on Instagram, as she was a German sweets sensation. As I have said before, Sarzana is a treasure trove of hip and yummy places.

Melissa’s Tearoom and Cakes is on the main drag, and you cannot miss it. It’s the store front with the charming, super cozy hunter green facade, sparkly crystal lighting, and pistachio colored cafe tables and chairs in front. Inside the deep rich hunter green walls set off the glittery silver teapots on the back wall and draw you right in. Cake stands hold several freshly baked cakes, and cupcakes are displayed like delicious jewels in a vintage glass case. In Italy, there has been a invasion of cupcakes which to me is a revelation since Italians tend to like drier, less sweet pastries and proudly defend their territory as far as pasticcerias are concerned. But I like the fact that Italians are widening their horizons. Check out Melissa’s facebook page, and definitely follow her on Instagram as her feed is pretty yummy.

Don’t worry, there are still plenty of fantastic pasticcerias in Sarzana to choose from, but I love Melissa’s balls to the walls concept of tea and cakes in a espresso and biscotti driven market.

If you’re in the hood, stop by for a visual treat. Of course, it’s a treat for your mouth, too. Like I’ve said before, go off the beaten path and explore outside your comfort zone. You never know what you’ll find…maybe even a cupcake! xx

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