La Fortezza Artist in Residence Art Opening Party

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As all of you know by now, in July we welcomed our first Artist in Residence at La Fortezza. Steve Mckenzie arrived on the first of July and diligently worked on his Lunigiana inspired exhibition, abstract mixed medium works called, Recollecting the Past, “Ricordando il Passato.” Steve was inspired by his time here in Italy. You can read all about where we traveled, and what we saw and collected, here.

All of this work and passion led to the opening night end of July. We had visitors from all over the world join us: the US, France, Greece, and England to name a few. We planned to celebrate on the expansive terrace with a quirky food truck, gelato cart, and an open bar. Steve meticulously hung his show with the assistance of our intern Adri; she helped him catalog and photograph his collection. He also painted special table runners. All plans for the opening party were planned with the utmost attention to detail. And all would be outside, especially with 65 rsvps, so we could enjoy the company of so many, and Steve could share his beautiful collection. The perfect plan….that was until all hell broke loose. What do they say about best laid plans?

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As a hostess, I know that perfection is only an idea, not a reality especially when it comes to throwing a party. So when the heavens opened up, and I mean an earthshaking lighting cracking thunderstorm that dumped tons of rain on us, at the exact hour that the opening was supposed to start. All I could do was laugh.

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We pulled everything into the studio. So many braved the weather to be with us, for which I was most grateful. We had a wonderful turn out and a wonderful party, including an after hours dance party. Sometimes what you imagined, turns out better than you hoped. We really had a wonderful time, and Steve and I were so happy with the opening party. It was also a great lesson in letting go for both Steve and I, and I am always amazed at the idea of a party can mean anything at anytime, even in the worst weather. All you need are great friends. We gathered with everyone as it pelted down rain, and we drank and ate and enjoyed gelato well into the night, surrounded by Steve’s beautiful artwork. What fun!

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Thank you to Steve who is as my husband says, a prince. And he’s right Steve is a stellar human, a great friend and such a talent. It was a pleasure to have him here every single day. He’s going to be a tough act to follow! x

If you’d like to purchase pieces from the show link here

Food Truck Photo Credit: Thomas England

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Berry Week:: Blueberry Pie

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If you are ever in need of an excellent dessert filled with succulent berries, I recommend this delicious blueberry pie from my cookbook Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY.

This is the most delicious blueberry pie recipe ever and is wonderful this time of year when blueberres are plentiful. I love to serve pie in vintage pie tins. Sometimes I slice a large piece and serve it to a couple with 2 forks. It’s a great way to mix it up.

Blueberry Pie
Serves 6-8

You will need:

Pie Crust Ingredients * pie crust can be made up to 2 days ahead
– 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
– 4 tablespoons sugar + 1 teaspoon sugar for the top crust of the pie
– 2 sticks butter chilled and cut into cubes
– ½ teaspoon salt
– ¼ to ½ cup ice water
– 3 tablespoons whole milk

Garnish: fresh lavender sprigs

To prepare:

Pie crust Preparation

In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, and salt for 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse into pea-size pieces about 3 minutes. Drizzle cold water, 1 tbsp at a time, and pulse just until evenly moistened and pulls away form the sides and forms a ball about 3 minutes. Turn dough out onto a work surface and gather into a ball, turning dough to combine any dry crumbs. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, then press into a disk about 1 in. thick. Chill dough at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

For the filling, you will need:

– 4 cups blueberries
– ¾ cups sugar
– 3 tablespoons cornstarch
– 2 Tbsp. butter, cubed

To prepare:

Pour blueberries in a large bowl, sprinkle sugar, corn starch and salt over the blueberries, and toss lightly.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

Cut crust into 2 pieces form 2 disks and roll out each pie crusts to about an 11-inch circle. Place 1 dough circle into a pie plate, add blueberry mixture, dot the top with butter and cover with top crust. Trim excess dough and Crimp edges with your fingers all around and cut slits in pie. Brush with milk and sprinkle with a teaspoon sugar. Bake on the bottom rack for 45 to 50 minutes until bubbly (shielding with aluminum foil after about 20 minutes or until golden) let cool and serve.

xx Annette

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Spilling Secrets:: King of Pops Popsicles

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Hi everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. While Annette is busy in Italy, I’m enjoying the dog days of summer in Atlanta and turning to Annette’s entertaining secrets for summer parties.

As you all know, Annette is the entertaining editor for Atlanta Magazine’s HOME. I always look forward to her stories in the magazine because they’re always filled with the best party ideas with the most fun people. This latest edition included the cool dudes behind King of Pops.

Throughout the colorful pages, the popsicle kings spill their secrets on their beloved treats including sharing a few recipes. Over the next few posts, we’ll be sharing those recipes here!

Up first? Farm Ginger Lemonade and Blackberry Honey Pops. YUM!

Farm Ginger Lemonade and Blackberry Honey Pops
serves 10

For the Farm Ginger Lemonade, you will need: 
– 2 3⁄4 cups water
– 5 1⁄2 tablespoons lemon juice
– 2 tablespoons ginger juice
– 2/3 cup, plus 2 teaspoons organic cane sugar
– Sea salt to taste

For the blackberry honey, you will need: 
– 1 cup water
– 1 pound (or a bit more) blackberries
– 1⁄4 cup honey
– 2 tablespoons lemon juice
– 1/8 teaspoon sea salt

To prepare:
Combine ingredients for Farm Ginger Lemonade pops and Blackberry Honey pops in separate pitchers; transfer each to ice pop molds. Freeze overnight. Enjoy two flavors from the King of Pops!

Image: King of Pops

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Signature Drink:: The Paper Plane

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In honor of the start to our summer workshop season, I thought I’d share an oldie but a goodie cocktail recipe, the Paper Plane. The Paper Plane has been one of our go-to workshop cocktails for years, and I am excited to share it with you today.

Our summer workshop season officially kicks off in just a few days, and I know it’s going to be a great season of friendships, creativity, food and fun. This is a delicious cocktail perfect for summer soirees, and you must try it!

Let me know how you like it in the comments below.

The Paper Plane
Makes 2

You will need:
– 1 1/2 ounces Amaro, I like Nonino
– 1 1/2 ounces Aperol
– 1 1/2 ounces Bourbon
– 1 1/2 ounces lemon juice, strained

To prepare:
Combine amaro, Aperol, bourbon, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker, fill with ice, and shake until the outside of the shaker is chilled about 30 seconds. Strain into coupe glasses and garnish with a mint leaf.

Cin Cin x

 

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Classic Mint Julep Recipe

Mint Julep Recipe

The 145th running of the Kentucky Derby takes place this weekend. A quintessential Southern tradition and the unofficial start to summer, the derby has always been one of my favorite excuses to throw a party. After all, what’s not to love about getting gussied up, noshing on fun bites, and drinking classic cocktails?!

No Kentucky Derby party would be complete without a classic mint julep! A splash of simple syrup and a whole lot of Kentucky bourbon makes for one sinfully sweet sip. I first posted Becky Stayner’s recipe a few years ago, and I couldn’t resist posting it again as we gear up for this weekend’s run for the roses. Who is your money on?!

Classic Mint Julep by Becky Stayner
serves 1

You will need:
– Crushed ice
– 2 oz. good Bourbon
– 1 oz. simple syrup
– 6 leaves of fresh mint + fresh mint for garnish

To prepare:

Make the simple syrup by bringing one cup of water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir in one cup of sugar until it dissolves. Once it’s chilled, stir in mint leaves to steep overnight (a trick from Becky). Put crushed ice, bourbon, and mint leaf simple syrup in a julep cup. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Don’t crush the leaves! Be gentle…after all, this is a Southern drink.

xx Annette

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