Beer the Italian Way

Italian Cocktails and food

This cocktail is one of my favorites in Cocktail Italiano because beer is one of my beverages of choice! Are you surprised?! I love how it can be zippy and refreshing.

The beer americano has become very popular all along the Riviera. Instead of using soda or tonic, bartenders use beer to finish off this refreshing summer choice. I think you will love adding this to your summer cocktail arsenal, especially with long summer nights and fun summer holidays just around the corner.

Try it; you’ll like it! Look for this and other amazing summer cocktails in Cocktail Italiano!

Beer Americano
Serves 1

You will need:
– 1 ½ ounces Campari
– 1 ½ ounces sweet vermouth
– 3 ounces lager beer
– lemon zest, for garnish

To prepare:

Combine Campari, vermouth and ices cubes in a tall tumbler, stir to combine. Pour the beer into another glass, stir to create a stiff foam, reserve the foam with a spoon top the cocktail with the beer foam, about 3 ounces.

**Note: For a lighter Americano feel free to pour 2 ounces of the beer into the cocktail as well. However, this should be done before you top the cocktail with the foam.

xx Annette

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Our fall workshop instructors are amazing

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I’m so excited about our La Fortezza fall workshop instructors roster. It just keeps getting better and better, I swear!

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Starting in September, I will be guiding a slow food experience The Lunigiana Slow Food Experience~ September 4th-9th. I am so excited to make this food forward retreat the most exciting foodies’ retreat yet. Harvest in our vineyard, make handmade pasta, meet all my foodie friends, make tomato sauce, jams, and pickled vegetables from our kitchen garden. Relax, do yoga, and enjoy all that the Italian countryside has to offer; we will pamper you and you will leave refreshed, rested and inspired.

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September 11th- 16th Antiques and Merchants of Italy-  You know how much I love cooking, but right up there is shopping. Since living in Italy, I have loved attending monthly antique fairs, and perusing the local flea markets, and shopping with local bespoke artisans in nearby towns. I’m so happy Antiques Expert Lisa Burnett of Inner Pieces Inc. will be lending her expertise. Lisa and I have been friends for 20 years, and she’s my go to person if I am buying antique pieces. She will be my co-leader and guide to all things vintage, antique and stylish. We will shop private vendors, my go to flea markets, and we will take you shopping in various towns that feature store after store of art, handmade clothing and accessories. Of course there will be beautiful food and wine, and lots of Aperol Spritzes, Lisa’s favorite cocktail. Join us and shop ’til you drop!

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October 9-14th Lifestyle Photography Workshop~ William Abranowicz, world renowned lifestyle and interiors photographer, with beautiful coffee table books to his credit like his latest book America Originals . He will work with students as a group each morning with one on one instruction throughout each day.  Participants will be taught to simplify the technical aspects of photography, understand light and composition to create well executed, emotionally impactful images, and to edit to form a concise visual articulation of what we see and hope to say. This is a once in a lifetime experience. Honestly I can hardly believe he said yes when I asked him to come teach at La Fortezza. Bill is a gentleman and a scholar – spending days with him creating will be an amazing experience. Spots are limited, so grab your spot before they are all gone. I am beyond thrilled to welcome Bill and all attendees to this special creative retreat.

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October 16th-21st Her Dark Materials Old Masters Still Life Photography Workshop~ I have been obsessed with “her dark materials” unique photography for years. I literally am bringing her to La Fortezza to watch her work. Her sense of composition is like nothing I have ever seen. True that Old Masters still life photography is all over the place, but Ros’s approach is both gorgeous and leaves me breathless. I told her that if no one signs up for her workshop I will be the only student, so I don’t care if anyone shows up I selfishly want her to myself… Ros Atkinkson, the photographer behind @her_dark_materials and a still life and food photographer who has achieved international recognition for her Old Masters style set ups and lighting will take students through the process of creating an Old Masters scene. Learn as she teaches you how to choose the right camera setting, capture the light in the best possible way and style using props and local produce. You’ll be guided in how to capture the scene, from tiniest details to the whole frame while using camera settings to maximize the use of light and shadow. I am SO excited to welcome Ros to La Fortezza this year…I am hoping it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and she comes year after year.

xx Annette

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Fall 2019 La Fortezza Workshops Launch

I am beyond excited to announce our roster of fall 2019 La Fortezza workshops in Italy. I have really listened to the feedback of past workshop attendees, and I think that fall simply put, “nails it.”

We have a variety of workshops that speak to everyone. There will be food-forward workshops, shopping excursion workshops and photography workshops with incredible talents and professionals. We want to make our workshops the best they can be, so thank you to all who participated last year and gave us such great advice.

Ready to see what’s in store?

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September 4th – 9th

First off is my Preserving Italy Workshop. We will dive deep into the region I call home, the Lunigiana. I feel passionate about sharing this unknown, and in some cases untouched, region. The people of this region work the land, live off the land and truly live seasonally. I like to say that I learned about the seasons here since we live season to season year after year.

The food artisans, the farmers, the vintners, the cheese makers and the fresh olive oil producers are a way of life. It’s the most authentic life I’ve known. We will be cooking throughout our workshop with Chef Philip and with locals too. I will share it all with you at our beautiful location, La Fortezza, overlooking mountains, vineyards and villages. I am thrilled to show you my secret Italy.

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September 11th – 16th

This one is all about shopping. If you follow me on Instagram , then you know how much I love shopping flea markets in Italy. How would you like to come along and shop with me? This workshop is geared toward the flea market shopper although shopping at this retreat will be peppered with plenty of artisan finds including handmade handbags and bespoke seaside markets.

Coming along to lend her expertise is professional picker and antiques expert Lisa Burnett of Inner Pieces. She will be leading the group and sharing her incredible eye with all of us. This is the perfect girlfriend retreat because of course there will be cooking classes and great food, lots of wine and Aperol Spritzes, Lisa’s favorite Italian Cocktail, and a little yoga as well. I cannot wait. These spots will be snatched-up fast, so don’t think about it; just do it!

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October 9th – 15th

I can’t believe he said ‘yes” when I asked him, but one of my all time favorite photographers is coming to teach lifestyle photography at La Fortezza. I think I jumped up and down for 10 minutes when he agreed. William Abranowicz is an icon in the photography world with many books under his belt. He has shot for every single magazine in the world. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I cannot tell you how much you will learn seeing the world through your lens with Bill as your instructor. He will be able to work with you one on one since the class is small. Imagine working with a world class photographer! Well my friends, you no longer have to imagine it. Just grab your place, and you can. I am beyond excited that we will be hosting Bill. This workshop will sell out fast, so don’t hesitate come to Italy and up your photography game. This is a “pinch me” experience, believe me!

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October 16th – 21st

Ros Atkinkson, Her_Dark_Materials on Instagram, will host our final workshop of the season. I invited Ros and selfishly told her I don’t care if it’s just she and I because I want to learn from her, and I want to walk around in her brain (I know I sound obsessed…and I am). Her still life photography moves me because the emotion and incredibly complex composition makes my heart sing. I was so pleased when she agreed to come and teach at La Fortezza. Apologies for all of the gushing, but I have a serious girl crush on Ros.

Come play with us! If you’re a fan of composition, food styling, photography or beauty in the highest form, please join us. Like I said, I’m happy if you can join us, and fine if you don’t because sharing Ros and her talent is going to be tough for me. There will be plenty of food, and wine and inspiration.

Who’s joining the fun in fall 2019? Book your spot today! 

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Sunday Supper:: Sausage and Peppers

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This easy sausage and peppers one pan dinner is the perfect one pan meal. It’s especially wonderful for a weekend after hosting friends and family (hint, hint – if you’re hosting Easter brunch, I’m talking to you!). You put everything on one dish, pop it into the oven and forget about it.

If you’re not hosting this weekend, tuck this recipe away for the future. This comfort food favorite is a great Sunday Supper option as it’s easy to prepare, delicious, and serves a crowd. Add some crunchy bread and a salad, and you’re all set.

Here’s my recipe from Picture Perfect Parties, my cookbook. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Sausage and Peppers One Pan Dinner
Serves 8
You will need:

– 6 Italian sausages
– 2 red peppers sliced
– 2 hot banana peppers sliced
– 1 jalapeno pepper minced
– 2 green peppers sliced
– 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
– 4 cloves of garlic minced
– ¼ cup olive oil
– 1 teaspoon salt

To prepare:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Slice the peppers and the sausage into bite size pieces. In a large bowl toss all the ingredients and mix well. Place mixture into a ceramic baking dish. Bake for 1 ½ hours and serve warm. Garnish with assorted herbs like rosemary, parsley, oregano, or chives.

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Spring recipe:: Asparagus quiche

Baby Shower

If you ask me, quiche is perfect anytime of day. It makes a lovely breakfast, especially for a crowd, but it also makes an incredible dinner. Serve it with a light salad for a complete meal.

This asparagus quiche recipe would be a great addition to any Easter menu, too. You can easily make it ahead of time and pop it into the oven before heading out the door or before people arrive! There’s nothing better that a simple dish that packs a lot of punch. Enjoy this seasonal spring dish!

Asparagus Quiche
Makes 1- 8″ round Quiche serves 8-10
For the filling you will need:

– 1/2 lb. fresh asparagus
– 8 eggs
– 1 cup shredded mozzarella
– 1 cup half and half
– 1/2 teaspoon salt


To prepare:

In a large bowl whisk eggs and cream and cheese and salt. Reserve 5 spears of asparagus for the top of the quiche. Cut the remainder into 1/2 inch pieces and add to the egg mixture. Combine and set aside make the crust.

For the crust you will need:

– 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
– 1 stick of butter chilled and cut into 1/2 cubes
– 1/4 cup chilled water
– 1/2 teaspoon salt

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, place the flour and the butter and salt. Using the paddle attachment on medium speed, combine the butter and flour until it resembles pebble size crumbs. Next add water until mixture comes together into a ball. *(note you may need to add more water to combine)

Roll the ball of dough out on a floured board into a 10″ disk about 1/8 thick. Place into an 8 inch ceramic quiche pan. With a paring knife, cut the overhanging dough edge around the perimeter of the dish so there is a clean edge all the way around. Use the excess dough you cut off the edge to make the make the decorative scallop border. Use a 1 inch round scallop cutter, place the scallop rounds on the edge of the shell, over-lapping all the way around the outer edge.

Once you have finished the decorative edge, place the egg mixture into the shell. Add the reserved whole asparagus spears on top and place into the oven. Bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Photographs by: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Prop and food styling by: Me

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