Cheers to Watermelon

Watermelon is ripe and ready this time of year which means it’s time for Keith Robinson’s delicious batched cocktail recipe, the watermelon spritzer. It’s perfect for spring and summer. Try it this weekend with friends, and let me know what you think, or just make the entire batch for a weekend of easy refreshments for two.

Watermelon Spritzer
Serves 12

You will need:
– 6 cups watermelon juice
– 1 cups fresh lime juice
– 1 cups mint simple syrup
– 1 bottle white Bordeaux or white burgundy wine
– 1/2 bottle club soda
– Fresh mint, lime slices as garnish

To prepare:
In a pitcher combine all the ingredients and ice and stir. To serve add fresh mint and slice of lime as garnish to each glass.

Photo: The Raftermen

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Finished… Finito…All Done, the last photoshoot for La Fortezza Cookbook

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The Dapper David Loftus, photographer and fashion plate sipping the Rosé named for him.

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Chef Leo, garnishing the local dish, in an authentic Lunigiana cast iron cooking vessel, called a testa.

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Me at my new bar, that was a delivery saga let’s just say I was happy it arrived and was in one piece.

Ciao everyone!  I can’t believe I am saying this, but I am done with La Fortezza Cookbook. The manuscript? Check,. The recipe testing? Check. Edits? Check. Photo-shoots per season? Check.

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La Fortezza, capture by David, his POV is perfection.   92DA59CE-8F04-440C-BA52-740073A6C28D_1_201_a

As you can imagine, shooting a seasonal cookbook in Italy has been a challenge. We had to cancel the very first shoot for the winter Chapter in February 2020. We were finally able to shoot the summer chapter August 2020, and with lots of restrictions and hurdles, we managed to shoot summer with me and my local chef Leo, then in October. I brought our workshop chef from the US which was no small feat. He, unfortunately, was going through some personal issues which did affect the quality of his work and the food which was another challenge on top of the other challenges was a lot for me to process. We soldiered on in March, hiring a new food stylist from England, the incredible Rosie Scott. All the while David Loftus, my photographer, was truly brilliant and consistent and created the most beautiful images. Rosie, our stylist from London, joined the team in March, along with our local chef Leo. We tackled the re-shoots from October’s shoot, as well as the new images for winter (yes, winter at the end of March. We lucked out with some unseasonably cold weather). Rosie and Leo knocked it out of the park. We had the crew back from London last week to shoot the final chapter, spring. With London lockdowns, endless covid 19 tests, daily temperature checks, travel restrictions, and tons of paperwork, we made it happen. My friend and superstar producer Barbara Pederzini was one of the reasons the shoot went so smoothly. She was my rock, to say the least.

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Daily temperature checks, Rosie and Charlie doing their temperature checks.

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With endless playlists, espressos, market runs, sunshine, heat, rain, and cold days, we had a great time. There were many many challenges, but I am beyond pleased with the recipes, and the images are outrageously gorgeous. This book, as we referred to it, will be “the most beautiful book in the world”. I am delighted that all of our local slow food purveyors’ stories are included, and the rich history of this little-known region of Italy, The Lunigiana, will be the star. I am proud and so excited to share it with all of you. Endless thank yous to David, Rosie, Leo, Barbara and of course, Charlie, Rosie’s lovely and helpful husband, who saved my ass driving to see the Shepherdess in Zeri…that’s another story for another time… dream team does not begin to describe this crew. Fin…xx

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The Ultimate Italian Shopping Experience: What to expect

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We held our first shopping retreat in 2019, and it was such a smashing success, I couldn’t wait to do it again. I announced the retreat last week, but I thought you might want a glimpse into what we do every day. Here’s a recap of my post from 2019, a few days after our first retreat. Give it a read and then head over to the workshop site to sign-up. Trust me, you’re going to want to be there!

You can register here! Take a look at a behind-the-scenes peek at what to expect:

 

From our 2019 trip…

Every day there were new destinations and some surprises. We could not have asked for a more fun group of ladies. Even though they did not know each other before, I think some solid bonds were formed. We danced, drank, made pasta, and enjoyed the beautiful fall weather on the terrace.

Of course, there was a pizza party where a few of our attendees tried their hand at making pizza in the pizza oven. We loved sharing information about how and why we choose certain props, discussed searching for antiques and loved shopping at my super-secret locations.

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We only have 8 spots available for this trip, so this shopping experience is very limited. I have so much to show you, and I cannot express how wonderful it is to meet like-minded shoppers, who share the love of beautiful things.

Let’s shop ’til we drop in 2022! 

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!

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Shopping with me in Italy…who’s coming?!

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“As a prop stylist, I regard shopping as a sport”…

I am pretty over the moon to announce this 2022 spring retreat, The Great Italian Shopping Experience is back. A couple of years ago, I did a shopping retreat. Let’s just say it was super popular. We instantly sold out. We had a waiting list of 50 people…I am not even kidding…

So, next year, in June, I will be revamping this one with more shopping and more locations. Only 8 people can come for 5 days of non-stop flea-ing and shopping at all of my secret haunts. Who’s coming?

The dates are June 22- 27th 2022. Mark your calendars now! For all of you who missed your chance, we are launching this workshop on Friday, May 1st, so be sure check back in (or even better, subscribe to my newsletter).

We will be going to flea markets, junk shops, artisan food purveyors, vintage dealers, Italian merchants from this region and beyond.

I could not be more excited to go hunting and gathering with you…

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We’re Baaaaaack!

xx Annette

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La Fortezza Cookbook, Winter photoshoot in the Spring

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Rosie Scott, our foodstylist, adding her final touches to the Chickpea Soup recipe on set

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Monitor showing the recipe for Bavette with Spicy Anchovy

Hi there. As you all know, I am working on my latest cookbook, La Fortezza Cookbook. It will be a cookbook based on my time here in the Lunigiana region in Italy. Obviously, this has been a challenging time to work on anything that involves a location.

We last shot the fall chapter in October of 2020 which was honestly less challenging. Now with all the rules, regulations, and protocols, it has been extra stressful. Our team is from London, so the lock-down in England postponed the shoot until last week.

I’ve been so worried since it is a seasonal book, and it is already full-on spring here, and we were shooting the winter chapter. But the gods smiled on us, and it felt like winter here last week: dark, grey and miserable. In all my of years of styling, I have never prayed for bad weather, but lucky for me my prayers were answered, and we managed to replicate winter to the fullest.

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David and Rosie needed a Covid Test for their flight back to London. It was quite easy.

Three out of 5 of us are fully vaccinated (including me), so it was easy to distance and much less stressful. Although we did not travel around as much to shoot the countryside this time or photograph portraits, it was really a nice week, even with all the extra precautions. Everyone had to get a Covid test to fly back to London, but even that was pretty seamless.

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The best part of the shoot, which was not actually part of the shoot, was the delivery of David Loftus Rosé. I had been working on it all winter, and it finally arrived with a beautiful label designed by David himself. David loves a good rosé, so I asked him last fall during the harvest if he’d like to develop one with me. Of course, he was totally on board. It seemed fitting to name the wine for this Rosé enthusiast. What a thrill to have him taste it for the first time. We agree that it has definite notes of strawberry, and he even tasted vanilla. It’s bright, not sweet, and quite enjoyable. We will be enjoying many icy cold glasses, the way David likes it, at the pool this summer.

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One more chapter to go which is spring. Then, we will be finished with the photography. La Fortezza Cookbook, Rizzoli NY, releases spring 2022. As you can imagine, there is plenty to do before it goes to the printer. I will never forget putting this book together in the middle of a pandemic. Who could forget?! Stay tuned for more BTS at the end of June with our fabulous crew. xx

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