Our first Artist in Residence Program at La Fortezza::Summer 2019

Well he’s here! Our first ever artist in residence, Steve McKenzie has arrived, and he’s set up shop in our studio. When he arrived, we visited our favorite art store in the neighboring town of Sarzana. He was shocked at the low prices, so he loaded up. I would not be surprised if Steve loaded a suitcase full of art supplies to take back to the US.

We also paid a visit to the library in Fivizzano where antique books are archived. Steve will be using ancient maps, letters and documents from the region in his artwork. He talked to the head of the library in Fivizzano, with a little translation assistance from our intern Adri. We are planning a trip to the print museum as well since Fivizzano was the site of one of the earliest printing presses in the world.

For one month, Steve will create an abstract collection based on inspiration from the region we live in the Lunigiana. The collection is yet to be named but will be shown here at La Fortezza on July 27th. We are super excited to welcome him and have our first ever art opening. I love his work, and I am very curious about how the Lunigiana will inspire his artwork.

The best part is we all get to assist him and paint with him, including guests visiting this month. What a wonderful opportunity. It is assured that this program is something that we will implement every year in July.

If you’re interested in applying to paint, print, photograph, create and show here in 2020 please contact me at annette@annettejosephstyle.com

If you’re in Italy and would like to stop by the opening on July 27th please contact me at the email listed above.

Follow along on instagram, mine and Steve’s, to see all the painting as well as the opening party at end of this month. We are so incredibly happy to be creating with Steve in Italy.

xx Annette

 

 

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Sour Cherry Liqueur

Things have settled down around here. After a hectic month, we finally have a little quiet time which is welcome.

Before our workshop chef departed, literally 10 minutes before he had to catch a train, Chef Philip decided he needed to ferment a ginormous batch of cherries from our sour cherry tree. He had originally put up a small batch by picking a tiny batch of cherries a few weeks earlier and putting them in sugar to break them down. Then he placed the tiny jar in the window sill to ferment.

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here’s his instagram post about the first batch

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Then about 2 weeks later, he and our intern Adri decided to climb the old cherry tree and harvest basket loads of sour cherries. I’ve never seen a happier Philip. We grabbed a giant glass jar and loaded it with the alreadly fermenting cherries from the window sill and the new cherries they had collected. Adding more sugar and a few liters of pure alcohol, Philip covered the batch and left it to ferment.

Much to my surprise, literally, as we were heading to the train station, Philip decided to harvest more cherries, and quickly added them to the fermenting batch and then added much more sugar and more bottles of alcohol. The giant batch now sits proudly in the middle of the commercial kitchen. I can only surmise that this was a subliminal way of letting us all know that Chef Philip will be back.

For this recipe and so many more, join us in September not only to taste Philip’s Sour Cherry Liqueur but to explore this incredibly rich region on our Preserving Italy : Slow Food of the Lunigiana Experience. Head to the link to preserve, explore, harvest and cook with us. Learn to make local dishes and handmade pasta with Chef Philip and other local experts. Harvest our grapes and visit the winery where we make our wine. It’s going to be a dream.

I cannot wait to taste our Sour Cherry Liqueur; our first batch of many in years to come.

Grazie and Cin cin! Philip, you’re crazy, and we love that.

xx

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Negroni Week 2019 Recipe:: Negroni Sbagliato from Bar Basso in Milan

Ciao Tutti! It’s my favorite week of the year! Negroni Week!

I love a Negroni. You could say it is one of my favorite Italian cocktails, and I have several variations in my book Cocktail Italiano , but this one is for a Negroni Sbagliato, one of my favorites from my favorite bar in Milano, Bar Basso.

What can I say about Bar Basso, that has not already been written about it? It’s the most classic Italian bar you will set foot it. Its owner is famous for this amazing cocktail which all started as a mistake, but a happy mistake and those are the best kind. In my opinion Bar Basso is what a bar should be like. It’s messy and un-kept though it’s chic decor makes it authentic, warm and friendly but still somewhat chaotic.

Great looking people of all ages congregate until late into the night. The blaring neon bar sign beacons you to cross the street and order a drink. Settle in and watch the ultimate sartorialist scene unfold. It’s quintessential Milan, Bar Basso.

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Negroni Sbagliato- Bar Basso

Negroni Sbagliato
Serves 1

You will need:
– 1 ounce sweet vermouth
– 1 ounce Campari
– 1 ounce lightly sparkling wine
– Orange slice

To prepare:
Combine vermouth and Campari in an ice-filled glass. Top with sparkling wine, stir to combine and garnish.

Cin Cin and find more Negroni recipes in my book Cocktail Italiano.

Happy Negroni Week! xx

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Styling Your Life Workshop Recap:: La Fortezza, Italy

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Ciao guys! Well, our first La Fortezza Workshop went off without a hitch. We welcomed back Maren and Joanna for a La Fortezza Workshop reunion of sorts (they both attended my Strictly Styling Workshop last spring), and we met Joanna’s friend florist Sarah.

Eliza Honey was supposed to be our floral instructor, but the timing of her first baby made it impossible for her to join. I am looking forward to having her join us to teach us everything floral here in the next years. We missed her, but the trio did a great job and everyone who attended had a great time.

We enjoyed many dinners on the terrace including a lovely apperitivo prepared by foodstylist/insturctor Maren. There were many beautiful florals around La Fortezza made by our attendees, and you gotta love that. Joanna taught a table setting class on the terrace; it is always fun to see how instructors use our things. The table was lovely.

Thanks to the attendees, who quite frankly, I now call friends. The best part about these workshops is that new friendships forged, especially the friendships between the attendees. We had another duo form with 2 of our guests who met at the airport and became fast friends. We called them the “2 Kims”.

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Chef Philip blew it out of the park, once again, with his amazing meals so thoughtfully prepared from all local ingredients from our kitchen garden. We welcomed our first intern ever, Adri. She’s a wonderful addition to our close-knit team.

The highlight of the workshop was that Heidi Rew from the Heidi Rew Show was here as well. She filmed and interviewed all of us including my stylist friend from Modena, Barbara (she’s teaching with me this weekend at my “Strictly Styling Workshop”). It was wonderful having her with us. Heidi is a delight and her podcast is amazing. I hope you give her “The Italian Chronicles” a listen over the next couple weeks and make sure to subscribe to her channel. Her show is great!

If you’re in media drop, me a line. We are welcoming all media this year to help us promote this incredibly gorgeous place in Italy. Reach out at annette@annettejosephstyle.com

xx Annette

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The Tale of Ancient Bread of the Lunigiana

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Once upon a time, there was a region in Italy far to the north of Tuscany called Lunigiana. This beautiful place of rolling hills, green land, of olive groves and chestnut forests was remote and magical. The folks living in the region were very creative and clever with what the land provided.

They harvested and sold olives and the oil extracted from the olives. They kept the chestnuts for themselves to live off of and use in many incarnations. The chestnuts were fired on a low burning fire dried to be milled into flour. The leaves used in the kitchen as parchment.

The low constant fire also gave way to utility by way of cooking on low fire. Large covered cast iron pans called “testa” were put on the low fire and used to cook many staples like bread while the chestnuts dried.

Last week our workshop chef, Philip, and I went to observe a loaf of local bread being baked in this cast iron vessel over the open fire. My friend Cornelia, invited us; she and her family own Podere Conti an Agriturismo in Flatteria about 45 mintues from our place. Cornelia is passionate about food and very passionate about local food. She was preparing to be part of the regional slow food competition presented in Parma at the famous cooking school, ALMA

We were lucky enough to watch her practice with her assistant at her beautiful location. The process is very specific. They had been testing variations on proportions of wet the dry ingredients for weeks. Finally, after several attempts, they came up with the perfect ratio for a moist and light bread. Careful not to give away too many secrets, she simply had us watch as they heated the testa pans in the open fire and then gently placed damp chestnut leaves onto round wooden boards. While the bread rose, we enjoyed the beautiful grounds and talked about her sheep and the olive harvest last season.

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Cornelia dampens and then presses the leaves between heavy boards to flatten, before using it as natural parchment for baking the bread.

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Dried Chestnut leaves, picked at the waning of the moon. Cornelia believes in Luna harvesting technique. https://www.gardeningbythemoon.com/

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I’ll let you know how they did at the competition, but after tasting everything, I think we have a winner. Their entry for the competition: bread baked in the testa with chestnut leaves toasted and rubbed with sweet garlic, local head cheese, local Pecorino cheese, homemade persimmon jam, and their own fresh pressed Bio olive oil. These offerings should surely garner first prize. It was certainly a gold medal experience for Philip and I. Thank you Cornelia for your warm hospitality and friendship.

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Podere Conti’s Bio- Olive oil.

Living in the Italian countryside has certainly opened my eyes to a whole new lifestyle, new foods and ways to harvest and cook in season, but mostly to some very dear friends.

xx Annette

 

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