Tag Archives: friends

Spooky charcuterie spread for Halloween

SpookyCharcuterie4 I chose pickled okra instead of gherkins because they reminded me of a witches' fingers.

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend, and I am taking over the blog today to bring you a spooky charcuterie spread for Halloween. Annette and I both love Halloween, and every year, I am lucky enough to get to put together a festive post for the blog. You might remember my skull floral arrangement from last year (and if you missed it, go check it out!). Basically, I love any excuse to get a little creative in October.

One of the things that I enjoy doing every year is hosting my friends for a Halloween gathering. My birthday is just two days before Halloween, so it’s perfect timing for a soiree. Here’s the thing about my friends: every party we have, big or small, involves a charcuterie of some sort, and with Halloween right around the corner, I decided to put an eerie twist on this classic appetizer.

Over the years, Annette has done some pretty phenomenal charcuterie spreads, and she even has a step-by-step guide to creating one yourself. I used her post as a starting point for my grocery shopping. It was so nice to be able to make a shopping list directly from her post.

SpookyCharcuterie1 The "cauldrons" are actually tiny copper food prep bowls, and the "witches broom" breadsticks are held in a skeleton drinking glass.

To add a spooky spin, I picked up a few treats from World Market. When I saw this piece of slate, I knew it would be the perfect creepy base for my meats and cheeses. From there, I settled on a copper, chrome, and black color scheme. I grabbed a few tiny bamboo utensils because they reminded me of bones. I also picked up a few Halloween-inspired containers to hold all of the goodies, and a few little decorative pieces like the skull, rat, and tiny spiders to add some pizzazz.

One pro tip is to make sure that you get food-safe containers for your own spooky charcuterie spread. The “cauldrons” are actually tiny copper food prep bowls, and the “witches broom” breadsticks are held in a skeleton drinking glass.

SpookyCharcuterie3 The end result is a spooky charcuterie spread that is sure to be a hit at your next party!

As I shopped for remaining accoutrements, I kept the Halloween theme in mind. I chose pickled okra instead of gherkins because they reminded me of a witches’ fingers. I added dried apricots (a tip from Annette’s post) because they are a lovely shade of orange. I decided on prosciutto because it’s so fatty and veiny.

The end result is a spooky charcuterie spread that is sure to be a hit at your next party! If you really want to carry the theme throughout, add some festive bottles of red wine. Prisoner is one of my favorites and quite on-theme, too!

Thanks for having me, Annette, and Happy (almost) Halloween, everyone!

xo, Nicole

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A special place for balsamic vinegar: a passion and a mission

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Deep into the Emilia Romagna region of Italy there is a beautiful little hamlet called Albinea where a beautiful former fashion house makes the most amazingly delicious balsamic vinegar in the world.

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I was lucky enough to meet one of the owners through a friend; an introduction I will forever be grateful for. Cristina met me at the gate. Dressed fashionably, her dark wavy hair elegantly styled and a little bit out of place. Behind the gate was the most beautiful estate. It is her family’s, of course,  and like all estates in Italy, a bit rough around the edges. It is a work in progress much like most things precious in Italy. For me, this always makes the location even more charming and alluring. As Cristina walked us around, she lovingly described her childhood here her father, the head of a major Italian fashion brand, and his passion for food and mostly balsamico. His hobby, well his passion, was making the strong syrupy stuff, and as you walk up to the attic where the original kernel of the idea for this brand was born, you can almost feel it. Stuffed into the attic of the main house are the ancient casks of her father’s original recipe. The scent as you climb the stairs hits you in the face with the sweet and sour notes of the vinegar. As Cristina describes the process, you can tell she too has the passion that her father has for the product.

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After a very informative talk by Cristina, we headed down the spiral stairs to the very beautifully designed tasting room to taste all the different incarnations of balsamic vinegar. From the mild notes to the heady sweet and syrupy symphony of the most concentrated flavor, we had an education in the aging process and the misconception of how balsamic vinegar is aged for 15 20 or even 40 years. There is a range, and no balsamic can have a printed label that states it’s been aged for a finite number of years, since it is mixed with older batches the aging process is a fluid number.

The grounds are breathtaking, and this year Il Borgo del Balsamico opened a few rooms, so that people can stay and enjoy the entire experience. As you can imagine, the rooms are perfectly appointed, and the service is impeccable. I urge you to make a reservation.

Unfortunately this product is not yet available in the US, so you’ll have to make the journey there. Located right near Bologna and Parma, it is the perfect foodie destination.

Thank you to Cristina and her beautiful family for the amazing tour. Please book my room for next spring I will be back. xx

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Pumpkin cake, new 2018 workshops, & more: it’s the top 4

4 for September Now that we’ve officially dipped into October, I’m reflecting back on September. As you now, September marked my last month in Italy. I am here for a few weeks before heading back in early November for our first olive-centric workshop which is going to be incredible if I do say so myself.

In September, I shared sagra festivals, exciting new workshops, scrumptious fall recipes, and more. Fall is a wonderful season, and we saw glimpses of it in Italy. Now, it’s here in Atlanta, and we’re enjoying every bit of it.

Here’s a look at my top 4 for September. Take a look at my favorite posts of the month (including that pumpkin cake). Let me know if you give it a try.

September is Sagra Season

Italy Renovation Update

Great Pumpkin Layer Cake

Announcing Summer 2018 Workshops

xx Annette

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My Life in Photos, September

It’s hard to believe that earlier this week, I wrapped-up an incredible summer in Italy. My first at La Fortezza, it was unforgettable in so many ways.

September was nearly as busy as the rest of the summer, but I found a little more time for relaxing with friends and visitors while exploring the region on my own or with Frank. I arrived back in the States on Monday and have been recovering from jet lag which is a very very real thing.

In the spirit of reminiscing, I wanted to look back at my photos throughout September. For those of you who follow along, this will be a trip through September’s memory lane. For those of you who don’t, enjoy these photos from my last summer month in Italy.

We’ve got some exciting things up our sleeves for October…including opening next summer’s workshops. Join my mailing list to get first dibs. In the meantime, a few inspirational photos to get you in the mood to come along.

Just another magic Monday.

Just another magic Monday.

Gorgeous birthday bouquet thanks to my rose garden and Forrest Spears for the sunflowers.

Gorgeous birthday bouquet thanks to my rose garden and Forrest Spears for the sunflowers.

Today was a good day! This is the first harvest since we've owned the house. I'm so excited!

Today was a good day! This is the first harvest since we’ve owned the house. I’m so excited!

Next to last weekend here. Fall is definitely making an appearance, too. What an incredible indescribable summer it has been!

Next to last weekend here. Fall is definitely making an appearance, too. What an incredible indescribable summer it has been!

Did I mention that I'm having a love affair with bistecca? Full disclosure: we always have it for our farewell dinner for our workshops...well because I love it, and it's Tuscany after all...and of course it goes great with our red wine!

Did I mention that I’m having a love affair with bistecca? Full disclosure: we always have it for our farewell dinner for our workshops…well because I love it, and it’s Tuscany after all…and of course it goes great with our red wine!

Parma is pretty! I've spent so much time in Parma this year! It's my new city in our new location. As I count down to summer's end, I will be reminiscing about the summer here...

Parma is pretty! I’ve spent so much time in Parma this year! It’s my new city in our new location. As I count down to summer’s end, I will be reminiscing about the summer here…

Afternoon light...I'm really going to miss this place.

Afternoon light…I’m really going to miss this place.

 

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Announcing Summer 2018 Workshop Roster

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As many of you know, this year was the first year of workshops here at La Fortezza. What can I say? It was incredible. We had so many amazing dinners on the terrace, drank lots of chilled white wine from our vineyard, enjoyed signature cocktails like Aperol Spritz and Paper Airplanes. We shared, created and mainly made a bunch of amazing new friends.

All of our guests enjoyed time at my dear freinds’ B&B La Concia, and bonded, laughed and gained a new set of styling and photography skills along the way. I was so grateful to those who attended our first workshops here. They were all so terrific about the scaffolding and the unfinished walkway and the construction crew. It was fun to see some of my past attendees make the trip, too.

Thank you to our instructors and photographers that helped out and to the fantastic chefs that will be back with us next season. Thanks to our amazing concierge and all around Italian spirit animal, Forrest, a fixer like no other. I could not have done it without my new troupe of gals that helped with finding foodie destinations and taught me about the unique products and culture here in the Lunigiana. I feel blessed to have these special friends and helpers.

Okay, NOW for the summer 2018 workshop line up:

1 one on one with me – you will spend time with me honing your skills, learning about the business of styling and production. So if you want to hang with me in Italy, this one’s for you!

1 wedding events and photography workshop – we will delve into the creative and business side of wedding photography and event planning. This will include florals and decor so what can I say it’s going to be AMAZING

1 figurative photography workshop – with an amazing figurative fine art photographer, we will be shooting all over the grounds and inside La Fortezza with stunning models from all over the world. If nude photography interests you, then this is the one for you.

Last but not least, we will be repeating the strictly styling workshop. It was wildly popular, and we think it is something worth repeating. 9 spots this time so we can fit more folks in, so if you were on the waiting list this year, most likely we will have a spot for you.

We will be finishing our renovation this winter, so our demo kitchen will be ready for all sorts of cooking classes and styling demonstrations. We will also have all of our guest rooms appointed, so you will be staying here on the La Fortezza compound with us. We will have some incredible excursions planned, and of course you will be eating local and delicious fare as always.

Email me with any questions annette@annettejosephstyle.com and head to the workshop website and sign up for the mailing list to receive early notification, so you’re first in line.

See you next summer xx

Look for Fall 2018 workshop announcements, too. They’re coming early November.

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