Strictly Styling Workshop June 2018 a recap

As many of you already know, we have been working like crazy to get the Fortress ready for upcoming workshops. Our maiden run was last week for our strictly styling workshop. Needless to say, I was a little anxious to see how our new guest quarters stacked up. I painlessly attended to every detail. Sticking to the idea that less is more and that the ancient walls would speak for themselves. Making sure the beds were comfortable, and the sheets were soft and inviting. Crossing fingers that our bathrooms – which are wet rooms – worked the way we wanted them to. They did.

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Our attendees were a super talented group that consisted of a florist, bloggers and foodstylists, and the stylish owner of a PR firm. This group instantly bonded, and the bond grew tighter as I watched them help and advise each other throughout the their days together. Our team building event of hiking into a waterfall was such fun, and it really showed off the natural beauty around us. We had a picnic, and we chatted and shared our goals and desires throughout the week. All the our days were filled with endless possibilities and inspiration.

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This time I tried something a little different and incorporated a textile painting workshop into the mix. We traveled to Florence for the day to meet Margherita Pandolfini at the studio she shares with partner Karl Jorns.

We had an amazing visit, painted textiles and then headed for lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in Florence. La Menagere.

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After an absolutely stellar, lunch we met up with our tour guide and walked all over Florence with our group ending up at the David. I had not seen the David in so many years; it was fun to see him again.

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We grabbed an aperitivo, and then ended our visit to Florence attending a Sunday Supper’s Sobremesa is a global dinner.

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We ate in what was a former glove factory, with a gathering of creatives from all over the world. The lovely Gaia Cozzi and her adorable father prepared everything and were the perfect hosts. We had a great time with everyone and ended the evening with lots of stories to tell and a fun ride back to the Lunigiana recapping our day.

The workshop was a huge success making it hard to part ways. My hope is all of our workshops will be like this one, and the creative juices will keep flowing.

If you would like to join us in the fall we have a couple of places left in our workshops. They are closing end of July so think fast and join us in September and October. Sign-up here.

xx Annette

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How to Style Your Outdoor Space

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As most of you know, I have been styling interiors for more than 20 years, however sometimes my jobs take me outdoors. I love styling outdoors, but there are a few hard and fast rules you might want to keep in mind when styling outside. Whether you’re planning to photograph your outdoor space, or you’re simply looking to spruce things up, today’s tips will certainly help you create a magazine worthy space.

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1.  Incorporate greenery. Use potted plants to anchor your space, but avoid using a lot of small colorful plants. Instead, think substantial, but not too large. When thinking of scale and proportion, remember it’s about the house and not the plants or accessories.

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2. Don’t over accessorize. Use accessories that make sense. Stay away from using too many throws or blankets, pillows, lanterns or candles, elk horns, wine glasses, you get the picture. These items are certainly ones that you’ll find day to day in your space, but they don’t need to live there permanently.

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3. Remember the Magic TriangleThis is especially important if you are styling your outdoor space for a photoshoot, but the rule also applies if you are simply setting-up your space for yourself. In the case of outdoor styling, this is a great trick to keep everything in balance. Your triangle will give you a starting point in an environment that can be overwhelming. In the above photo, you will see a thin triangle of red props. Can you spot them?

4. Choose smart materials. Think about items that can withstand the elements. That means choosing things like indoor/outdoor fabrics for pillows, rust-resistant furniture, and outdoor rugs. You’ll be surprised at the items available on the market these days. Ballard Designs and Ikea often have great selections!

Photo 1: Rob Brinson

Photo 2: Anthony Masterson

Photo 3: Reed Davis

Photo 4: Lauren Rubinstein

Styling By: Annette Joseph for Meredith publications

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Delicious Cocktail Italiano Appetizer:: Eggplant Camponata

 

If you’ve received your copy of Cocktail Italiano, you now know that it’s not only filled with cocktails but also delicious appetizers. In the section on Imperia, an industrial town along the coast, you’ll find three classic cocktails and several nibble recipes. This eggplant camponata is one of them. Camponata is one of my favorite, stand by appetizers. It’s creamy, spicy, salty, and of course, eggplant-y. It’s divine.

I like to serve mine with thin crackers or crostini, along with arugula and grape tomatoes. Plate it all with a touch of grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of the best olive oil you have. Enjoy!

Eggplant Camponata

This has been my favorite tried-and-true apero recipe for many years. I make a lot, and I keep it in the fridge for unexpected guests. It’s also an amazing topping for pizza, another great aperitivo snack!

You will need:

– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 small red onion, finely chopped
– 4 cloves of garlic, crushed or coarsely chopped
– 4 cups of cubed eggplant, skin on (1″ cubes)
– 1 cup chopped tomatoes
– 1 cup chopped fresh basil
– 1/4 cup capers
– 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
– 1/2 cup tomato sauce (from a jar is fine, unless you have homemade hanging around)
– 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
– salt and pepper to taste
– Parmesan cheese for garnish
– Crispy crackers or flat crostini (find this recipe in Cocktail Italiano, too!)

To prepare:

In a large pan, saute chopped onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add all other ingredients, except Parmesan cheese. Cover and stir frequently, so camponata does not stick. Saute on low heat until combined and soft, about 30-40 minutes.

Serve as a warm appetizer on crisp crackers and plate with arugula and tomatoes. Enjoy alongside cold white or sparkling wine with friends.

xx Annette

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Workshop Announcement :: Join us in October

Angie Eric Ripert

Ciao guys! As you know, our summer workshops have sold out.

However, fall workshops are now up for grabs. Full disclosure: we only have a couple spots left in each workshop in September, so we have added a workshop in October. Since it’s olive oil season, it’s the best time to visit our region in Lunigiana. We will be visiting food vendors and the oil press, and tasting wine and truffle hunting will also be on the schedule.

However the most exciting part of this workshop announcement is who will be joining us touring and teaching. Drum roll please…

Angie

Angie Mosier, America’s food styling sweetheart, food writer, food stylist, photographer and producer. Yes, she even styled and photographed for Eric Ripert. Angie is someone I look up to. She is incredibly talented and knowledgeable, well respected, and an all around lovely soul. She will be joined by James Beard award winning chef Chef Rebecca Wilcomb, chef at Herbsaint in New Orleans. Rebecca comes from an Italian background, so returning to her heritage is very exciting indeed. Join us as we cook, style, and photograph our region, take tours of purveyors and food artisans, enjoy visits to farms, dairies, cheese makers, olive groves and orchards, cook with local seasonal ingredients, and drink our own wine from our vineyard at La Fortezza. I am over the moon that these two food superstars will be exploring our food culture with all of us in tow.

This is a very special opportunity to explore our region with these amazing instructors, and it is available to you. To say we are amazed and thrilled would be an understatement. Angie and I have been friends for many years, and the idea that she will be joining me in Italy is a dream come true.

Rebecca

We will be launching her workshop on the site May 1st. I suspect it will sell out in a day. If you want the opportunity to be first on the sign up list, please join our mailing list as we will be sending a newsletter a couple days before it posts live.

Join us for our Angie Mosier workshop in Italy, The Story of Place and Taste: Cooking, Styling and Photographing the Food of Lunigiana. Will launch soon.

See you in Italy.

xx Annette

 

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Renovation at the Fortress :: Where are we now?

Commercial kitchen view from the dining room, you can see the configuration and where the student lounge is located on the left

Commercial kitchen view from the dining room, you can see the configuration and where the student lounge is located on the left

Hi Guys, time for another update about our renovation in Italy before I head over in mid May. Here’s where we left off in case you need to catch up.

We had specific areas of the fortress we wanted to focus on this winter.

  • the fortress guest quarters
  • the commercial kitchen
  • the student lounge which also serves as an extra bedroom that sleeps 3 people
  • outdoor oven, the forno
  • kitchen garden patio under the pergola

The guest quarters are almost finished. We will have 3 bedrooms and one with a fireplace. All of the bedrooms will have bathrooms with soft comfy towels and a custom natural soap collection. Our beds will be very comfortable with 100% cotton sheets bedding from Merci in Paris. We will make sure everyone has a stellar experience during our workshops; luxurious monastic rooms are our credo. I had so much great feedback from our attendees last year about their expectations and desires as far as housing goes. We listened, and we hope that our guest rooms will meet your expectations. Our goal is to make you feel super comfortable.

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We found a great checked concrete vintage tile to use in the kitchenette in the guest quarters.

We found a great checked concrete vintage tile to use in the kitchenette in the guest quarters.

As you know, we live in a defensive tower from the 12th century. It has 4 floors. The main house is located on the 3rd and 4th floors, the guest quarters is located on the 2nd floor under the main house, and the cantina (storage room) is located on the ground floor.

pictured the defensive tower the guest quarters on he 2nd floor

pictured the defensive tower the guest quarters on the 2nd floor

We finished the main house project last May 2017, moved in, and then used the main house kitchen for our workshop cooking lessons and photo lessons last summer and to prep all meals for our attendees and guests. Full disclosure, having lots of people cooking in your own kitchen is challenging; we all had a great time but at times it was a bit out of control. Teri, our private chef, really cranked out some incredible meals for a large crowd during our workshops from our smallish narrow kitchen.

Teri working her magic

Teri working her magic

Commercial Kitchen

entrance from the student lounge to the commercial kitchen dining room

entrance from the student lounge to the commercial kitchen dining room

As you can imagine, it was so exciting once we pulled the trigger on completing the commercial kitchen located under the studio. Of course, Teri was also excited. The studio is a separate building from the tower, a space we teach and work in all year long. Our styling and photography lessons happen in the studio. It’s where we store props as well.

We have most meals outside the studio on our expansive terrace. However now with the commercial kitchen, we will have another gorgeous dining space where we can all gather for breakfast and some dinners and use for photos and extra prep space.

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The kitchen has Cararra marble countertops all around to allow everyone cooking to have their own prep area. Watching the delivery complete with a crane was so exciting. Of course the highlight of the kitchen will be the Lacanche stove. It’s a biggie, and I am excited to welcome my second baby to the family. The floor is terracotta tile which was installed in the last few weeks. The decorative tiles behind the counters are coming soon.

Next to the kitchen will be a full pantry, and full bath complete with shower. The student lounge is next to the kitchen as is the entrance to the kitchen and dining room. Double metal doors with glass panes will lead you to the kitchen garden from the student lounge area where we have built a patio area that will be under a wisteria covered pergola. Here breakfast or drinks can be enjoyed while taking in the kitchen garden and rose garden view. It will have large pots surrounding the vintage tables and chairs, planted with herbs and eatable flowers.

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The most exciting addition this year is the outdoor oven. I can hardly wait to stoke the fire and make homemade pizzas, focaccia, flat breads, and slow cooked Tuscan beans. I am jazzed!!!

I can’t wait until mid-May to share the progress with you all. Our summer workshops are full, and I can’t wait to meet everyone! x

Photo credit: Forrest Spears

 

 

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