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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My Life in Photos, May

As many of you know, I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home there, The Fortress. To say it’s been a whirlwind of excitement would be an understatement.

I’ve spending my days unpacking and prepping for students who arrive next month and spending my nights enjoying aperitivo on our terrace or sipping our own vineyard’s wine with friends.

Of course there have been many ups and downs, and I’ve been sharing a lot of my experiences on Instagram. For those of you who don’t follow me there, here’s a glimpse at my life in photos for May.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Faucet of my dreams in my own kitchen in Italy.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Crostata break – oh, with espresso.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Market day! Choosing perfectly aged pecorino.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

The view out of my window in the mornings.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Starting to get to know the light in this place…

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Bedroom vibes

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

My first night at la Fortezza; it’s quiet as a tomb and was my best sleep in a long time.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Pardon me while I post a million pictures of my love, my La Canche.

By the way, if you really want to see some behind the scenes moments, be sure to checkout my Instagram stories. You never know what peeks at The Fortress you might see.

If you want to see The Fortress for yourself, we have just a few spots left for our July workshops. I’d love to see you there.

xx Annette

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Moving in Day :: Italy

I never thought this day would come....moving in day in Italy! I am grateful to be able to fulfill our dream and share it with students, family and friends.

Well I never thought this day would come….

Moving in day in Italy. From my 3 1/2 year search to phase one of our renovation of the main house, it’s truly been a sweet journey. I could not have done any of this, not one lick of it, without my best friend, and designer/project manager, Forrest Spears. He is truly an angel, and will continue to be as we move into phase two, the guest quarters, commercial kitchen and student lounge. I am hugely overwhelmed with the feelings that the Fortress is finally ours. We are restoring it to its full potential and will welcome our first workshop attendees in June.

I am grateful to be able to fulfill our dream and to share it with our students, family and friends over the next years to come.

Send me good vibes as all of you know moving day is a challenge.

I will be dealing with boxes eaten by what our workers called “field mice”… I think they were trying to be nice. I think the “mice”  are more like rats. We stored all of our belongings in our cantina (which is like a wine cellar), but obviously it’s been home to several rat families and creatures of the field over the past years. I think I will be adopting a few cats this summer. 🙂

So the glamorous life of living in the Italian countryside begins this weekend for me. Rubber gloves and endless buckets of soapy water and giant garbage bags will be there too, as they ate anything made of straw, wicker or paper. I won’t go into detail but a lot of stuff is pretty disgusting.

However, once I move it, the main house will be glorious. All I have to think of is my shiny new Lacanche, and it puts a smile on my face.

lacanche Our new Lacanche range fresh out of the box.

Thank you to all of you that have followed along to this point, cheered me on and were nothing but supportive and excited for us. We love that you continue to send good wishes and thoughts. I hope you all come visit us and share a glass of our wine from the vineyard. Continue to follow as we start phase 2 in the next couple weeks. It’s going to be an action packed summer. In the meantime love to you all, and grazie mille xx

The vineyard view from the guest room.

 

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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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Spring Cocktails, A Day at the Races, & More: It’s the Top 4

Here's a quick glimpse at some of my favorite (and our most viewed) blogs. It's our top 4 for April. Stay tuned for May!

Here’s a quick glimpse at some of my favorite (and our most viewed) blogs. It’s our top 4 for April.  Writing blog content is something I love to do, and it’s always neat hearing and seeing what you like, too. Let me know what you’d like to see more of in the future. Stay tuned for May; I can’t wait to show you what’s up my sleeve.

Top 4 for April:

The Fortress: A Renovation Update from Italy 

It’s Coming Up Cocktails: My Favorite Spring Sips

A Day at the Races

Ikea’s Jassa Collection

xx Annette

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