Our first Style + Photo Workshop at La Fortezza!

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Well it happened. They came and went so quickly. Our first ever Style + Photo Workshop at La Fortezza at our new location in Northern Tuscany. We really had a wonderful time. The studio space has amazing energy, and our attendees got to experience it for the very first time.

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We started our workshop with a wonderful dinner on the terrace overlooking the mountains and the quaint village down below. Our view is simply breathtaking. All of our attendees were truly delightful, and our planned events went off without a hitch.

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We had a great time playing with props in the studio and learning about our cameras from super experienced and gifted photo instructor, Christina Wedge; she is truly an inspired teacher.

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Our excursion to the local bread maker and to visit with mother daughter cheese makers was a hit.  We headed back to the kitchen with our chef, Leo, to learn how to make homemade raviolis, and of course, we took this opportunity to hone our editorial styling and photography skills. Chef Leo was a great subject; our in process photos were amazing.

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Photo by one of students: Marisa Curatolo,

Photo by one of students: Marisa Curatolo

On Saturday we took an all day tour of Parma which was beautiful and of course delicious. We had lunch at a local trattoria and then were expertly guided by AJstyle team travel concierge Forrest Spears through the city. We ended up in the beautiful Teatro Farnese,

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Our farewell supper was lovely. I will always remember the first workshop, and of course all of the people that made it so special. Love to our attendees; you were such a pleasure to spend time with.

We are just about to announce our first Fall Style + Photo Workshop. Sign-up for the mailing list to get your spot first. If you’re interested in joining the Olive-centric Style+ Photo Workshop, with Emily Followill and Chef Alisa Barry Nov. 8th, email me (annette@annettejosephstyle.com) for a spot. We already have 3 people signed up, so spaces are limited. Website page launches mid July.

xx

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The Cheese ladies of Metro, Lunigiana, Italy

C H E E S E !!! … full disclosure I could live on it. In our region, we have many local cheese makers. Goat cheese and cows milk as well. Sydney and I (if you read the last post you know Sydney is our son’s girlfriend; she’s studying nutrition here in Italy for the summer as she gets her degree to become a registered dietitian) traveled high above the mountains of Metro to meet and try local cheese made by a mother daughter team of cheese ladies. The Mama is about 90 and still works actively in the processing kitchen. In her white wellies, she scoops the whey and makes the pecorino, the ricotta, and the mozzarella. We had the pleasure of touring their tiny but immaculate facility in the back of their small but well-stocked cheese and salumi store.

The aging room was my favorite part. Neatly stacked cheese just waiting to be picked from the shelves to be enjoyed.

We went home with a new pecorino, aged for 4 months, and a more pungent pecorino aged for 2 years. Mama tossed in a mozzarella ball as a gift to be discovered when we unpacked everything for lunch at noon. What a enormous treat, and you know I will be back to buy more….once we’ve polished off the wedges that we took home.

Thanks to my friend Davide for taking a minute to show us this delicious place.

xx Annette

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The Chestnut Flour of Lunigiana, Italy

As you all know by now, I am in Italy for the summer renovating our home here, a 12th century defensive tower (a fortress) that has a vineyard. As I work on the daily tasks of making this a spectacular setting for our family and for our workshops and retreats, I love to discover local artisans and craftsmen and of course small organic food producers. With the help of my lovely friends here, a secret world has opened up to me. I am meeting so many amazing people, and I am so thrilled to be living in such an authentic and undiscovered place as the Lunigiana.

Saturday, along with my son’s girlfriend Sydney, we visited a local bread maker. Fabio Bertolucci is revitalizing Lunigiana’s ancient bread making; he uses chestnut flour. The Lunigiana is filled with chestnut trees, and in ancient times bread makers discovered that the roasted and dried chestnuts could be turned into a useful and nutritional flour for bread making. Sydney is a Nutrition major at University of Texas, studying to be a registered dietitian, so this outing was of particular interest to her. She’s about to take part in a nutrition studies program in Sicily for six weeks (yes, I am jealous). Watching Fabio was exciting and interesting for us both.

High above the mountains in a tiny village, Fabio has his lovely little bakery. He makes about 100 loafs every other day and distributes them himself to local groceries and bakeries. He’s on a mission to bring back this local delicacy. The bread is called, Marocca, and it is made by mixing finely sieved chestnut flour, wheat flour and boiled and mashed potatoes with extra-virgin olive oil, yeast, a piece of sourdough starter and water. The dough is formed into a round loaf, about 20 centimeters in diameter, which is left to rise for over an hour before being baked in a wood-burning oven.

Fabio Bertolucci is revitalizing Lunigiana's ancient bread making; he uses chestnut flour. In ancient times bread makers used chestnuts for flour.

Fabio is a thoughtful and quiet man; he pulls every loaf of bread from the oven himself. He prefers to work alone. It’s a solitary existence, and life of purpose and exquisite simplicity. As he handed me a hot loaf wrapped in a brown paper bag, gratefully I took it in anticipation of sinking my teeth into a warm slice slathered with local butter and chestnut honey from the bees down the road.

Fabio Bertolucci is revitalizing Lunigiana's ancient bread making; he uses chestnut flour. In ancient times bread makers used chestnuts for flour.

This is as local as it gets, and the very reason I have chosen to live here in the Italian countryside half the year. What could be better than breaking scrumptious sweet bread with friends and family?

Thank you, Fabio for welcoming us. For those of your joining our workshops and retreats, you can be sure a warm loaf is in your future.

xx Annette

Il Forno in Canoara di Fabio Bertolucci
Casola in Lunigiana (Ms)
Via Villa di Regnano, 99 a
tel. +39 +39 0585 983017-347 2354711
lamaroccadicasola@email.it|

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Strawberry Crostata, Moving-In Day, and More: It’s the Top 4

On the blog this month, there have been a few recipes, many peeks into the renovation, and a some notes about life in Italy. Enjoy the top 4 from May

May, you’ve been good to me. Despite a few bumps (did I mention we had field mice?), I’ve had a great month in Italy getting settled and preparing for workshop students.

On the blog this month, there have been a few pretty fabulous recipes, many peeks into the renovation, and a few notes about life in Italy. If you missed any of these fun posts, I’ve rounded up my favorites for you below. Enjoy the top 4 from May:

Top 4 from May

Strawberry Crostata with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries and Mascarpone Ice cream 

Moving-In Day

A Word about Flour

Cauliflower Tacos

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A word about flour :: dispatch from Italy

Italian Flour

An essential like flour is something we might take for granted in everyday life.

Even in the age of gluten-free, our daily bread is something most folks partake in.

It occurred to me while shopping for staples when I arrived in Italy last week, that the flour in the everyday grocery here is abundant in choices. I will say that in the US, I really don’t eat that much gluten. But when I am here in Italy for some magical reason, I have no reaction to baked goods: no inflammation, no sluggishness, no reaction whatsoever, so baking here is something I do regularly.

I did stop in my tracks when I saw this amazing flour display and decided to share it on my blog today. In Italy, we bake with many types of flour, and if you’re gluten free, then chestnut flour is the answer for you. In our region, Lunigiana, there’s a basic bread recipe that has been baked for many centuries.

Chestnuts

Today I’m sharing my Focaccia recipe from my upcoming book Cocktail Italiano. This book will not only be filled with wonderful cocktails, but the nibbles that accompany the cocktails served all over Italy.

focaccia

Focaccia
Serves 4

You will need:
– 3 cups double zero flour or bread flour (super fine flour)
– 1 package dry yeast
– 1/3 cup warm water
– 1 cup water
– ½ cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 teaspoon for the cookie sheet + 3 tablespoons for finishing before baking, 1 tablespoon to finish after baking
– 2 tablespoons coarse salt + 1 teaspoon for finishing

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F

1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. Place the yeast in a small bowl with 1/3 cups water and let proof in a large bowl, once proofed add flour and oil and salt and water, combine until it forms a sticky dough, it should be very sticky. Flour your surface and turn the dough onto floured surface. knead gently for a minute until dough forms a soft dough.
2. On an oiled 10”x14” cookie sheet with a lip, spread the dough out to fit the cookie sheet. With your index fingers poke dimples into the top of the dough .* note you can use parchment paper to line the cookie sheet but I like to oil the paper.
3. Let rest for 30 minutes, then repeat by poking dimples into the risen dough, and let rest for 30 minutes.
4. Before placing in the oven, drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon coarse salt.
5. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Remove sprinkle with 1 tablespoon olive oil cool and eat warm or at room temperature. The key is to let the oil soak in as the focaccia cools. Can be stored sealed for up to 3 days.

Serving suggestions: I love to use focaccia as an appetizer with olive spread, Parmesan cheese, Parma ham, and a summer crisp rose wine. This makes the perfect start to a perfect evening.

Since I am raving about Italian flour, I wanted to give you a great resource for flour in the US.

Carolina Ground Flour

Recently my friend sent me a sampling of this incredible artisan flour Carolina Ground. It’s the closest I have found to the flour I use here in Italy.

Happy baking xx

 

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