Summer Chapter Shoot for La Fortezza Cookbook

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As you all know, I am back in Italy. Mainly for 2 reasons:

1. Check on our house, La Fortezza.
2. Shoot the summer and autumn chapters of my next cookbook La Fortezza Cookbook, Rizzoli NY, Spring 2022.

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This project, for me, is a passion project. The book will be an epic and a beautiful depiction of the region we live in, in northern Tuscany. The book will be filled with local recipes and delicacies, gorgeous travel shots, typical local flavor, and purveyor portraits.

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These photographs will all be captured by the incredibly talented British Photographer David Loftus. I have been an admirer of David’s work for many years, as he has shot for some of the most famous chefs in the world; Jamie Oliver just to name one. His work is insanely beautiful. His discerning eye and recognizable style sets him apart as one of the world’s most respected food photographers. I was thrilled when he agreed to photograph my book.

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My sweet friend and producer, stylist Barbara Pederzini, agreed to help me with the prop styling. She brought all sorts of amazing serving pieces and plates to play with. I used a local chef to help prepare the dishes. It really was a magical team.

Without giving too much away, I believe that this book will take you on a journey and leave you with the lasting memory of a trip to our little piece of heaven. We will be shooting the autumn chapter starting October 5th, so be sure to follow the journey on my insta-stories. I can only tell you this is one of the best projects I have ever worked on. The love I have for this place, La Fortezza will shine through on every page and you will taste the love in every bite.

Until October, stay well x

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Summer recipe:: Fried Green Tomatoes

While it's not quite green tomato season yet, tomato season will be here before we know it. Put this recipe in your spring appetizer arsenal.

Fried green tomatoes are a traditional Southern recipe but are absolutely perfect for this time of year. It’s such a fun addition to any meal, especially with the goat cheese and coulis addition. Make sure to put this recipe in your appetizer arsenal and enjoy them!

Fried Green Tomatoes with Goat Cheese and Red Pepper Coulis 
Serves 6

You will need:
– 1 cup goat cheese
– 4 green tomatoes, sliced 1⁄2-inch thick
– 2 eggs
– 1⁄2 cup milk
– 1 cup whole wheat flour
– 1⁄2 cup panko breadcrumbs
– 1⁄4 cup yellow cornmeal
– 2 teaspoons salt
– 1 cup vegetable oil
– Feta and fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)

To prepare:

Spread a small amount of goat cheese onto one side of each tomato slice. Arrange on a sheet pan, and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Whisk eggs and milk in a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, combine flour, breadcrumbs, cornmeal, and salt. One by one, dip each tomato slice into the egg mixture, then the crumb mixture; shake off any excess.

Pour oil into a deep frying pan and place over medium heat until a thermometer registers 350°F. Working in batches, fry tomatoes until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes per batch. Garnish with feta and basil, if using, and serve immediately with red pepper coulis.

Red Pepper Coulis

You will need:
– 7 ounces roasted red peppers from a jar
– 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
– 1 clove garlic
– 1⁄4 cup olive oil
– 1 cup fresh basil leaves
– 1⁄2 teaspoon salt

To prepare:
Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

xx Annette

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Workshop updates + a peek at my next project

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Ciao Everyone,
As many of us are in our homes sheltering, we are slowly seeing things improve all over the world. In Italy, hopeful signs appear every passing day as things are very slowly starting to open, and people are starting to adjust to the new normal.

Today, I am sharing a few updates of my own. Below, you’ll learn the latest with our workshop schedule, more about my book launch and a few happy news items I am delighted to share with you.

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Workshop Update:
I have been in communication with all of our instructors and my friends overseas. They are hopeful that come fall, we will be able to meet again. I am optimistic that we will be able to return to Italy early September and conduct workshops with small groups on our compound in the Italian countryside. We will see and make decisions as we go. As always, I’ll update you here and on Instagram.

Join me:
In the meantime, as you know, I am conducting La Fortezza cooking classes every couple of weeks with our La Fortezza workshop chef, Chef Philip. Most recently, we have been making handmade pasta and focaccia! You can find the homemade pasta recipe here. Check my Instagram for announcements, and always right here on the blog for recipes we have prepared as well as instructions and shopping lists.

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New Book:
As always, there are some very wonderful things happening in our La Fortezza world. Italy is My Boyfriend, my memoir, will be released this month May 26th. I am hoping that you have already ordered your copy and will be enjoying the tale of how we came to renovate and own a 12th-century fortress in the Italian countryside. Trust me, it is quite an adventure. ORDER your copy here.

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Book Launch
As with my past books, I will be doing a book launch for this exciting title. The launch will happen on June 18th at the Atlanta History Center with Betsy Riley, editor and chief of Atlanta Magazine. She will be interviewing me—live or virtually—it is yet to be determined.

Next project:
I am working on my next book, a La Fortezza Cookbook. I feel blessed to work on this project while at home waiting for all of this to pass.

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Big News:
La Fortezza is featured in the May Issue of Elle Décor magazine. It is an issue devoted to Italy giving you a complete virtual vacation. It is on newsstands now. Check out the online feature here.

I am also excited to say that we were featured in Quin in partnership with Lacanche. See the beautiful photos and full spread here.

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Finally, I recently collaborated with Frontgate for an Italian Riviera photoshoot featuring their Italian-inspired summer collection. See the spread and read my interview here.

Again, please stay safe and stay well. We hope to welcome you to Italy in the future.
It will be okay.

xx Annette

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GIVEAWAY with etúHOME:: Cocktails and Entertaining with Style!

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Hello, February! Now that we’ve gotten our new year kicked-off the right way, I thought we’d welcome a new month with a giveaway. I have not done one in such a long time. Honestly, I am in love with etúHOME’s beautifully crafted boards, so I asked if I could gift one to one of you, and they said YES, so here we GO!!

As you all know, one of my favorite party tricks is creating a huge, sharable charcuterie platter for friends to gather around and nibble on. It really is a fun and filling way to feed guests and requires absolutely no stress. You are instantly entertaining with STYLE!  This post about the anatomy of a charcuterie details exactly what you need to make a successful charcuterie as well as how to arrange meats, cheeses and accouterments in a complementary way. Pair your board with some cocktails from my book Cocktail Italiano, and you have a hit on your hands!

While the items you serve are certainly the stars of the show, the foundation is what makes a charcuterie board special. That’s why I have partnered with one of my favorite home decor brands, etúHOME, to give you a beautiful round oak charcuterie board. Here’s what the brand says about this board:

An even more functional and beautiful version of a signature pizza board, this charcuterie board is handcrafted from reclaimed oak. The oak wooden pizza tray is darker than the signature etúHOME pizza board you know and love, and has a side featuring a rigid wood planked top while the other side is smooth. The smooth oak side makes this wood board ideal for cutting and chopping, as well as serving. The round board is made up of rich oak hardwood that is distinguished by two strips of walnut timber to prevent warping of the reclaimed wood. These large, top of the line, reclaimed boards are amazing quality and will last for generations to come.

The board is  20″ in diameter, making it an absolute showstopper. Even better? I’m including BOTH of my books Cocktail Italiano and Picture Perfect Parties in the giveaway, and as an extra treat, I am marking the pages with my favorite recipes. Be sure to enter on Instagram! You don’t want to miss this opportunity to win a fabulous prize package worth $200.

Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Leslie! 

Note: giveaway is open to U.S. residents ages 18+ only and is not associated with Instagram. 

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William Abranowicz 2019 Photography Workshop recap

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There are some people that just impress you. Bill Abranowicz is one of those people. He and I worked on a Rolex photoshoot together, at Augusta National Golf Course. It was a bit stressful as the masters location is much like visiting the Whitehouse. Think credentials, and lots of checks and cross checks. It’s like performing a military operation. But Bill was cool as a cucumber and sailed through the assignment. I liked his vibe from the start: super chill, sort of funny and very professional without being intimidating.

I knew I had to have him join us at La Fortezza.

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Bill arrived at Pisa airport with his striking wife Andrea in tow. Andrea, a location scout by trade, is chic, funny and endearing. To say she and I hit it off would be an understatement. The group of attendees was small but completely delightful. It was all men, and they were happy with everything; easy and amusing. I worked styling for all the attendees as they worked on their still life assignments.

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Bill’s powerpoint presentation was amazing. I must say one of the best I have seen. Bill told us about his influences and his early days as a printer (he printed for Horst). When he revealed that, I almost fell off my chair. He’s a humble guy who is completely focused on the work. He has so much knowledge that 5 days with him did not seem like enough time. Luckily for us, he returns in 2020 to do it again.

I can hardly wait for his return. He is truly a prince of a guy, and his wife ain’t so bad herself. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from the master, at the ultimate masterclass at La Fortezza.

xx Annette

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