Tag Archives: summer

Watermelon Spritzer:: Let’s drink to spring!

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Let’s get ready for spring! Keith Robinson’s spring feature in Atlanta Magazine’s Home has the most delicious batched cocktail recipe, the watermelon spritzer. It’s perfect for spring and summer. Try it this weekend, and let me know what you think!

Thanks Keith!

Watermelon Spritzer
Serves 12

You will need:
– 6 cups watermelon juice
– 1 cups fresh lime juice
– 1 cups mint simple syrup
– 1 bottle white Bordeaux or white burgundy wine
– 1/2 bottle club soda
– Fresh mint, lime slices as garnish

To prepare:
In a pitcher combine all the ingredients and ice and stir. To serve add fresh mint and slice of lime as garnish to each glass.

Photo: The Raftermen

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My Pesto Recipe:: Spread it on anything!

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fullsizeoutput_6184 For a quick weeknight dinner last week, I made my first pesto batch of the season. I often say pesto is my version of peanut butter because I can spread it on anything.

If you follow along on Instagram, you probably saw me post a few stories about this easy pesto recipe. It’s a family favorite that I found in the New York Times while living in NYC. It’s originally a Silver Palate recipe, and it’s been one of my go-to meals ever since. It’s crazy to think that I’ve been cooking it for years.

Pesto is a pantry staple in my house, and I almost always make my own because it’s so easy. If you do want to buy a prepared version, I like the Cibo brand from While Foods.

When I made dinner last week, I was reminded of this awesome recipe and knew I had to share it with all of you again, along with this video of my pesto recipe process. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Pesto Recipe
serves 6-8

You will need:
– 4 cups fresh basil leaves (from about 3 large bunches)
– ¾ cup olive oil
– ½ cup pine nuts
– 4 garlic cloves
– ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese + 4 tablespoons for the garnish
– 1-teaspoon coarse kosher salt

To prepare:
Combine basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until paste forms, stopping often to push down basil leaves.

After blending, pour oil into the mixture and blend until smooth.

This can be made 1 day ahead. Stored in a sealed jar, it can last 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

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Squash and Pesto Tortellini 
serves 8

You will need:
– 3 yellow squash cut into cubes
– 3 cloves garlic minced
– 4 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 16 oz. box tortellini pasta , either dried or fresh work great
– 1 cup toasted pine nuts
– 1 cup pesto
– 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
– salt and pepper

To prepare:
In a large skillet add minced garlic, olive oil and cubed squash. Saute until the squash is golden brown. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 4 tablespoons of the pasta water then drain. In a large serving bowl add the cooked squash, the pesto and toasted nuts, 4 tablespoons of the pasta water, the pasta, cheese and salt and pepper. Mix throughly and serve with extra grated cheese.

 

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Italian Travel Guide:: One Stop Shop

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After nearly an entire month of writing about traveling to Italy for one of my workshops, I thought it would be a good idea to devote a final post to the topic. Think of this as your go-to Italian travel guide, and a one stop shop for all of the information you need to know. It will be a FAQ page of sorts. Here’s a quick reference to all of my tips for traveling to Italy for a workshop at La Fortezza:

AJSTravelsITALY2019

How to Get the Best Airfare to Italy 

What to Pack in your Carry-on

What to Pack in your Suitcase 

How to Spend a Layover in Milan 

Why Mother-Daughter Trips to La Fortezza are a MUST

I don’t know about you, but the past month has me more ready than ever to get back to my Italian home. I’ll be in Italy for a few weeks in March checking-in on La Fortezza and readying it for guests. Then, after a short stint home in the States, I’ll head back to Italy for the summer. Our 2019 summer workshop and Artist in Residence program are shaping up to be absolutely spectacular. From styling workshops with yours truly to one-on-one painting lessons with Steve, this is going to be an incredible season of workshops.

There are only a few spots left, so if you’re planning on joining us, grab your spot soon! Don’t miss your opportunity to come to Italy for a once in a lifetime experience!

xx Annette

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How I plan a layover on my way to La Fortezza:: Milan!

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The Duomo

When coming to my workshop in Fivizzano, the cheapest flights are to Milan. Why not spend a day or two exploring the city?! I love layovers especially, Milan layovers.

The Milan Airport, Malpenza airport is about 45 minutes from the city center. Needless to say, taking the train from the airport is the way to go. Note driving in Milan is very challenging. Parking is virtually impossible (unless you stay over night then parking at the hotel makes it easy).

If you’re staying over night, then feel free to rent a car, although honestly, I still advise against it.

Overnight, I recommend the Rosa Grand Hotel.  It has a great location, is affordable and well run. Of course you can stay in the Armani, or Bulgari, but I prefer to have aperitivo in those hotels.

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Aperitivo at the Armani Hotel

Once I check in, I head to the the Duomo. It’s a great place to take a selfie and to people watch. Plus there are tons of places to grab an espresso.

The Galleria is amazing and is located adjacent to the Duomo.

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The Galleria

I like eating at the top of the Rinascente Department store rooftop restaurant .Yes it is literally right next to the Duomo, and you can enjoy breakfast, lunch and aperitivo on the rooftop.

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roof top of the Rinascente department store

After lunch, I love going to the Brera Shopping district. It’s where the art school is, so you can imagine it is filled with amazing shops and hip artisan wears. Of course if you’re more interested in designer shopping, there is the  Via della Spiga shopping district.

There are so many must sees in Brera:

Don’t miss the Rosanna Orlandi store. They have home furnishings that will blow you mind. Wait and See is one of my favorite clothing stores in Milan and across the street is Funky Table Milano, my favorite home accessories and tabletop store. Here’s an entire blog post about Wait and See.

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wait and see

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funky table milano

You can also visit the Villa where I am Love was filmed in. Read about it here. Villa Necchi IMG_9789

Screen Shot 2019-01-26 at 7.53.40 AM If you want a destination that you can tour and have lunch, head to Prada Foundation, a wonderful museum that is architecturally inspirational…with the Luce restaurant designed by Wes Anderson, it’s a great way to spend a few hours on your layover.

Don’t forget to grab an espresso and a pastry at one of the oldest pasticceria in Milan, Marchesi.

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Whatever you plan, make sure to wander the city and enjoy all the sites.

Layovers can be great. Why don’t you join us in Italy, so you can plan one soon?! Safe travels!

xx Annette

 

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Grab your flights to Italy! Here’s how to get the best prices.

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I was talking to my web manager, Nicole, about Italy during a meeting last month. We were talking about the workshop website and talking about booking flights to Italy. She’s considering coming, but said she was shocked by pricing to Pisa. She told me that Delta was charging $3000 economy round trip. I almost spit out my espresso. I said, “No way, let me tell you how I fly.” She had never heard about half the airlines I use when I search for flights. I thought everyone knew about these airlines. Apparently not which prompted Nicole to say…

“Annette this would be a great blog post,” and I agreed. So I have written this post just for you! That way you can book your budget flights in and out of Pisa to attend my workshops. When I book flights to Italy, my only mission is to get to Italy and then figure out how to get to La Fortezza – sometimes from Milan, sometimes from Rome, and sometimes flying directly to Pisa from a European city like London or Frankfurt. I save money flying to Italy by looking at tickets online to various cities in Europe with several carriers picking the most affordable and shortest duration. Then I fly with local airlines into Pisa from where ever I land. Sometimes I even take a train to to La Fortezza directly if possible.

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Here are my top tips:

1. The main thing is to be flexible with dates to find the best offers. I use all the discount sites to check if there are any great flights I might catch. Kayak, Expedia, Travelocity and Cheapoair. I set up alerts with Airfare Watchdog.

2. Always check the “my dates are flexible” box. A big tip is that I do not look at flights until I am ready to buy them. I start looking 4 months before I travel overseas. Once I find a flight, I book it on the spot it if it’s cheap and mainly if the duration of the flight is not super long.

3. I always book tickets overseas from JFK airport in New York, not from Atlanta where we live. I use points when I can to book flights from Atlanta to JFK on Delta because most of the time, flights are regular and very affordable to JFK. Timing works because most flights overseas leave starting in the early evening into late night, so timing is great to coordinate.

4. I check all the major cities from JFK Airport. Think Amsterdam, Milan, Rome, London, Munich, Frankfurt and sometimes Zurich and Barcelona (I stay out of Paris at all costs; it’s a horrible airport although if it’s super cheap, I book it). I look at budget airlines like Condor, British Airways, Turkish Airlines Iberian Airlines and  Air Canada.

Here’s an example of selections from Air Canada from JFK to Milan June 2-11th , but other dates are available as well. You can see the difference flying out different days, so flexibility is very important.

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Here is an example of Travelocity’s listing from JFK to Milan. There are lots of choices, so make sure to look at flight duration on both legs…

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5. I travel light which means with a carry on. The truth is that you do not need a lot of clothing in the summer, and if you’re carrying camera equipment you should be good with 2 carry-on bags. Plus this is important if you’re flying with budget flights or taking a train.

6. Fly smaller, European budget airlines to reach Pisa. Once I have my flight to a major European city selected, I look for my European leg to Pisa with a European budget airline. I use Easy Jet, Ryanair, Transavia  and Alitalia  for the connecting European legs. For example if you fly into London, book EasyJet or Ryanair to Pisa airport.

Here’s an example of the choices on Easy Jet  from London to Pisa:

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8. Sign-up for alerts. If you’re on an alert system like Airfare Watchdog, you should be able to find flights from JFK to Pisa sometimes as cheap at 700 dollars. So it takes a bit of time, but the effort is worth it. Honestly, I rather enjoy it. Who doesn’t love a challenge?!

If you’re coming to one of our workshops in June or July you may want to start actively looking for your flights now. The key is to look at every option, and be open to travel routes, new airlines and flexible dates.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you loads of other travel content to help you plan your trip. June workshops and July’s artist in residence program will be here before we know it! Stay tuned for packing tips, plane essentials, layover must-dos and more! Have a safe flight xx

 

 

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