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Cooking Local, the Paper Plane and More: It’s the top 4

4 for August

It’s the top 4 for August, and what a busy month it has been. I’ve enjoyed sharing some of my favorite Italian secrets with you this month. I recapped our final summer workshop with Sif, we discussed the best kept antiques fair secret in Italy, and I may or may not have spilled the beans on one of my guilty pleasures.

I cannot believe it’s almost September and that in just a few short weeks, I’ll be boarding a plane back to the U.S. In the meantime, I’m going to soak up every moment I have left of my first summer at the Fortress. Stay tuned in September for some exciting content. You won’t want to miss it.

Here’s my top 4 August:

Cooking Healthy and Local Workshop

The Testament of Testaroli

The Paper Plane Cocktail Recipe

Melissa’s Tearoom and Cakes

xx Annette

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My Life in Photos, August

As August comes to a close, I am spending some time reflecting on our absolutely amazing summer here in Italy. As most of you know, it was our first summer conducting workshops from our new home, La Fortezza, and it’s been a huge success.

I’ve spent August thinking about the workshops – what worked and what didn’t – and planning for the next round of workshops to come. We have our olive workshop in November along with an awesome summer line-up coming your way in the next few months.

My life in photos for August have been full of antique shopping, delicious meals straight from our garden, and a few fun days of exploring. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram. There’s always something to see and things to do here, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing like a cocktail on the terrace.

Happiness is my kitchen in Italy. It greets me every morning and makes my day!

Happiness is my kitchen in Italy. It greets me every morning and makes my day!

What's for dinner?

What’s for dinner?

I call this "dinner for two."

I call this “dinner for two.”

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#drinkmorewine

Sarzana is the best kept secret in Italy.

Sarzana is the best kept secret in Italy.

 

Rainbow in the street.

Rainbow in the street.

xx Annette

Photos by me and Pictory Video.

 

 

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Pre Order is now open for Cocktail Italiano my new book

Cocktail Italiano is the perfect travel companion. It releases in spring, but it just launched on Amazon.com, and you can be the first to pre-order it now.

For those of you that read my blog and follow me on social media, you know I have a new book releasing in the spring (April 3, 2018). Although I loved working on my first book Picture Perfect Parties, this new book Cocktail Italiano has been a 3 year passion project. One of the things I am most proud of is that I photographed the entire book, with the exception of a few cocktails I could not capture on the run. Skyhorse, my publisher, has be remarkable at seeing my photocentric vision of the book, therefore it is chocked full of images of the sea and sand and the beautiful colorful towns of the Riviera.

As many of you know, we lived on the Italian Riviera for 14 years and enjoyed the lifestyle there tremendously. I loved documenting all of my favorite places to imbibe aperitivo and take in the scenery. Aperitivo in Italy is something very special, and I think with this photo-rich book, I have captured the essence of my favorite Italian ritual. Living by the sea was incredibly inspiring and every summer spending time at our beach club was pure heaven. Cocktail Italiano is the perfect travel companion, and all you will need to create your very own aperitivo tour. It releases in spring, but it just launched on Amazon.com, and you can be the first to pre-order it now.

Cocktail Italiano is the perfect travel companion. It releases in spring, but it just launched on Amazon.com, and you can be the first to pre-order it now.

Cocktail Italiano is the perfect travel companion. It releases in spring, but it just launched on Amazon.com, and you can be the first to pre-order it now.

One of my favorite places was in my hometown of Alassio, Italy at Villa Della Pergola. Lucky for me, they were just up the road, and I enjoyed many an aperitivo there. They are known for their very own version of the Aperol Spritz, and you’ll find the recipe in my book. We will be staying there in September, so make sure to follow along on my instagram to see all the beauty and deliciousness they have to offer.

Look for book signings next year which will be up on the site next February. We will be coming and drinking and mixing cocktails at a city near you. Cin cin and enjoy the rest of the summer, preferably with a cocktail in hand.

xx

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My secret mega obsession in Italy

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Hi I’m Annette Joseph, and I am a professional shopper…and I have a problem. Well not a problem exactly. More like a secret obsession. As you all know, I live in Italy about 1/2 the year, with Donald Trump in office, it will probably be more like 12 months out of the year…(not kidding).

I live here, therefore I live a normal life, and I need normal stuff like wrapping paper, light bulbs, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, glass jars, paper plates, and a mop and pail. When I first summered in Italy about 25 years ago, one had to shop at many specialty stores for those items. There were not giant conglomerate hardware stores like Home Depot, or SUPER markets like Whole Foods or even stores that cover it all like Target. We would go from place to place picking up mops here and laundry detergent there, meat at the butcher (which I still do) and wrapping paper…well there was no wrapping paper…none. I used to have to be super creative with birthday wrapping, or I would bring it with me from the states.

My point is like with all things, things change. It’s still hard to find everything in one place like Target, but the world is becoming more homogenized as the internet has made the world smaller and smaller. Something terribly clever is going on here in Italy. The inception of the catch all store. Mostly owned and operated by Chinese families, these mega stores have everything, and I mean everything. I am totally obsessed with them. Need cute cocktail straws or cute ribbon? Doggie poo bags or votive candles? Pots and pans, hardware or sunscreen? Here’s your place. They even have clothing, hats, cosmetics and perfume. The skus go on and on. Need a grill? Charcoal? A chocolate bar? Gum? Motor oil? You get the picture.

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I AM OBSESSED. It is something that has made living here nearly perfect. I know you’re saying what is she talking about? But these stores are literally life changing. It used to take hours to find wrapping paper, gift bags and even cocktail straws, and now with the Happy Megastore, I can get everything in one spot. The thing I like most is that the store is so unpolished, so utilitarian and almost kitsch. No sparkling photography of pretty people trying perfume or walking their perfect pooch. Just down and dirty racks with all sorts of useful items stocked up in obscene quantities.

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The biggest secret is when I am in a bad mood (yes one can be in a bad mood in Italy :-)), I go there for an instant pick me up. I buy a few items, a scented candle or a bag of charcoal for our grill, and I feel 100% better. Let’s face it: it’s cheaper than therapy, and one can pick up some useful hard-to-find items to boot. Next time you’re in Italy in a town, find the Happy Megastore or something like it. (Hint: they look like a Chinese container threw up on the sidewalk) Go in; you will be amazed. If you forgot to bring something from home, I swear they will have what you need. I know this is not the most Italian-ish romantic post I’ve ever done, but it’s a very important post because it documents the changes that have taken place as the world becomes a smaller place. It’s relevant and important and mainly, it’s my happy mega place.

xx Annette

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Sarzana Antique Fair

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Every year in August I wait for it…in Sarzana there’s the most wonderful event, the Sarzana Antiques Fair. Sarzana is about a 40 minute drive from our house in the Lunigiana. Sarazana is a quaint medieval town 20 minutes inland from the sea, right before you get to Cararra where the marble is from. Complete with a citadel and duomo, it’s our region’s fun little secret hipster haven. It’s also virtually unknown by tourists. In fact I cringe a little bit letting you all in on my secret happy place. It’s chocked-full of artisan clothing boutiques and antique stores, yummy hip restaurants, and the most charming little bakery/tearoom, Melissa’s (Ill be writing about it in the next blog post, so you will want to come back, and read about it this Thursday). There’s even a hipster barber shop.

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This year I went twice. Once to scout it out. I found a charming hand painted terracotta urn that I have proudly displayed in our front entry. I headed back to find some pieces for the guest quarters and kitchen, and a trunk for the master bedroom.

The stalls under the brightly lit passageways always make me smile. Striped umbrellas and trillions of trinkets catch your eye. It always makes me a little dizzy with anticipation. Oh, and it’s held at night which is a stroke of genius since the August heat can bring upwards of 100 degrees in the shade. It’s the perfect time to have an aperitivo and people watching at the fair is an added plus.

All summer long there are wonderful antiques markets all around the region, but this once-a-year fair is the one I wait for. Now that I have let you in on my little secret, you should think about visiting our region inland from the Riviera. Thirty minutes from the very popular and incredibly over-crowed over-marketed Cinqueterra, there is a treasure trove of quaint towns and beautiful views, amazing hikes and unexpected local cuisine. Adventure awaits you off the beaten path. Start with Sarzana; you won’t be disappointed. You’re welcome. xx

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