Tag Archives: workshop

Slow Food Cheese Event in Bra Italy 2019

fullsizeoutput_6f8e   fullsizeoutput_6f45 fullsizeoutput_6f36

Ciao Tutti! As you may have seen from the complete coverage on my instagram feed, Philip Meeker our chef, and Rachel Ritchie our guest liaison, and I headed to the region of the Piedmont, known for delicious wines like Barolo and Barbaresco. Our destination was Bra, Italy, the Slow Food capital of the world. We wanted a little R&R and lots of cheese, wine and truffles.

As a girl from Wisconsin, you can imagine my pure joy. I was excited to share cheese with the team and few truffles as well. We stayed in Alba, the truffle capital of the world, so with all the food groups covered, we relaxed and treated ourselves to endless aisles of cheese, cheese talks and local makers’ booths. We stayed in an Agriturismo by a local wine maker who had a few rooms to rent on the top floor. In truth, the entire foyer smelled of wine-no complaints from me. The location was great and staying at a working winery was kind of fun.

fullsizeoutput_6f87

We got in around 5 pm in time to do a little aperitivo, but not before stopping at my favorite truffle store, Tartufi Ponzio, to load up on Truffle potato chips. Yes, really, truffle potato chips. They are truly the crack of the potato chip family. You can’t eat just one. The owner was there Gianfranco, a very energetic, and enthusiastic man, especially about truffles. He’s a hoot! He’s taken over the family business, and from what I can see, he has brought it into the 21st century with the utmost care.

There will be a documentary coming out on truffle hunting early next year, so keep your eyes peeled for “The Hunt” and look out for Gianfranco. It will be shown for the first time at the Sundance Film Festival 2020.

Gianfranco showed us all his new products, improved both inside and out. We bought a few more staples to bring back to La Fortezza to share with our guests. As I always do, I asked him where he liked to eat. He immediately told us and picked up the phone to make us a reservation for that night. All set, we said our goodbyes, and told him we hoped he would stop by after closing the store and join us for dessert. The meal was impeccable, more truffles and butter than you could imagine. Divine. GF, as we call him, stopped by for dessert and told us a few stories about truffles and hunting and his family business. All in all, he was quite amusing. Great food, great stories and a great night.

2D334660-B224-4382-B6A5-157B1252522B E49AFC38-C7A7-4CE9-B406-72A1FD874B7A

The next day, we headed to see and eat more cheese than we could have imagined. The festival was huge and would take days to see. We tried cheese from all over the world, all kinds, to the point that we could not eat anymore. Our bellies were full and our feet were hurting which surely means we had an amazing day.

fullsizeoutput_6f4c 35744126-FFFC-456F-9D59-DDF3DDB10B70 fullsizeoutput_6f71 fullsizeoutput_6f4e fullsizeoutput_6f34

I will say, most people would say you can’t have enough cheese. Oh but you can. I still cannot think about eating cheese. Vegetables? Yes. Although I never get my fill of truffles. We ate, we drank and we walked and walked all weekend. It was a great little break and mini vaca with the team, but now it’s time to get back to the business of taking care of our workshop attendees. Of course, there will be cheese and there will be truffles, as we love to share.

I highly recommend the slow food cheese festival! It’s in one of my favorite regions in Italy. Piedmont is not to be missed. Tutto il Formaggio. (all the cheese)

xx Annette

All behind the scenes celebration cooking Crushing On Events Fall Food Food styling italian cooking italy Meet the Team my picks Notes from Italy Personal photography Shopping The Fortress Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Our First Ever La Fortezza Antiques and Merchants of Italy Shopping Retreat

fullsizeoutput_6ea9

Ciao Tutti! We had amazing whirlwind of a week with our first ever La Fortezza Antiques and Merchants of Italy Shopping Retreat. My co-leader Lisa Burnett of Inner Pieces Inc. could not have been a better partner in crime. We hosted 7 lovely ladies and toured them all over the Italian countryside, to shop and meet local artisans and vendors that I love. It was an insiders shopping tour that was both exciting and informative.

Every day there were new destinations and some surprises. We could not have asked for a more fun group of ladies. Even though they did not know each other before, I think some solid bonds were formed. We danced, drank, made pasta and enjoyed the beautiful fall weather on the terrace.

Of course, there was a pizza party where a few of our attendees tried their hand at making pizza in the pizza oven. We loved sharing information about how and why we choose certain props, discussed searching for antiques and loved shopping at my super secret locations. Lisa spent a couple of extra days, so we checked out some of her Italian vendors and hope to expand the shopping experience next year.

We will be conducting this retreat again in 2020 because it had such an overwhelming response when we posted it. Since we still have 50 people on the waitlist from last year, we have decided to do this retreat for 2 consecutive weeks in 2020. If you are interested in joining us and want first dibs sign up for the newsletter. We will be sending a private mailing to our list before the workshop goes public.

fullsizeoutput_6d98

grazie Lisa you’re simply the best! x

fullsizeoutput_6e38 IMG_3475 caeb579a-85cf-4117-8687-1285e4c02820 0F1B3842-D8ED-492E-8248-3C5CE1B12519 c1540bd7-8e53-4367-8053-b46f2bd1ec2b

We only have 6 spots available in each retreat, so this shopping retreat very limited. We have decided to vary the schedule in case some of you want to join us for both weeks. We have so much to show you. I cannot express how wonderful it is to meet like-minded shoppers, who share the love of beautiful things. As a prop stylist, I have to say sharing my resources with our groups gives me great joy. Thank you again to my most talented and lovely friend, Lisa. x Let’s shop ’til we drop in 2020.

All behind the scenes Crushing On Decor Design Inspiration Events how to be a stylist interior design italian riviera italy Meet the Team Notes from Italy Personal photography photostyling shelter Shopping style lessons The Fortress tips from a stylist Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Preserving Italy Workshop:: the slow food experience

E8F40B1B-D2FC-4E35-B8E9-294D4DD1F73E fullsizeoutput_6d3d Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.48.54 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-14 at 7.24.39 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-14 at 7.11.42 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-14 at 7.13.36 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-14 at 7.17.42 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-14 at 7.18.17 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.55.51 AM

We just wrapped up the Slow Food Experience workshop, and I must say it was a wonderful experience not only for our attendees but for me too. We visited food artisans in the area and sampled local food like panigacci and chestnut fritters, and with the help of my foodie friends, I think we represented the region of the Lunigiana proudly.

There are so many interesting and different local foods here. It’s so different, in fcct, that I am writing my next cookbook about it (keep your eyes peeled for the La Fortezza Cookbook, due out in 2021). It is a region rich in history and food history with many kitchens born out of need and lack of funds; the “poor kitchen,” or as they call it, “cucina povere” was creative and inspired.

We made pasta with Chef Philip using jarred tomato sauce, (passata) from our kitchen garden tomatoes. We made grape jam with my friend and slow food ambassador, Giovanna, and sampled bread from the local bread maker Fabio

fullsizeoutput_6d60

We enjoyed chestnut fritters with chestnut honey and dined on all the products from around the area breakfast lunch and dinner, and of course many aperitivos…

This workshop will be available next year. All workshops for 2020 will post in November. We would love for you to join us and sample all the local food products and meet all the lovely people that work so hard to preserve the traditions of this beautiful region.

Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.50.47 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.48.05 AM Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 7.50.15 AM

Thanks to all the attended and we really loved meeting your eating with all of you. See you next year.x

Some imagery is from our team photographer Kate Blohm

All baking behind the scenes celebration Cocktail Italiano cookbook collection cooking how to be a stylist Instagram italian cooking italy Meet the Team Notes from Italy Personal photography photostyling photostyling like a pro renovation in italy secrets on how to become a stylist style lessons Style Pin the art of a party The Fortress tips from a stylist Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What to Expect on a Truffle Hunt in Italy

IMG_1022

We’re gearing-up for our fall workshops around here which start soon. Workshop guests are starting to nail down their plans for their free day. One of the options that I always recommend they take advantage of is truffle hunting.

Truffle hunting in Italy is an experience unlike any other. It’s a truly immersive expedition…plus you get to hang out with a cute dog all day! What’s not to love about that?

I wanted to share what you can expect during a truffle hunt in Italy. That way, if you’re headed here for a fall workshop, or if it’s on your mind for the future, you know what fun you’re getting yourself into!

What to expect:

  1. Hunting for truffles is a year-round activity which means the hunt happens during all temperatures and weather.
  2. Moisture has much to do with the harvest, and rain is a very important factor in the number of truffles annually. The more rain, the more truffles. In other words, bring comfy walking shoes that you can get dirty!
  3. Hunting with dogs will be with you on your trip. Dogs are more delicate and hunt with their paws. They’re cute, but keep in mind they are working.
  4. Truffles can be found all over the forest floors, not just the roots of trees, so keep your eyes (and nose) peeled.
  5. Once the hunt is done, you’ll be craving all things truffles, so come ready to enjoy them!

Who’s ready to join us for a fall truffle hunting expedition?!

All behind the scenes Events Fall Food Instagram italy my picks Notes from Italy Personal photography The Fortress Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lucca, a less traveled destination

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When we rented houses in Levanto over the summer with our family many years ago, we discovered Lucca. Lucca is a beautiful walled city with lovely churches and a wonderful antiques market held the 3rd weekend of every month in the summer period.

Our family would go there about once a month since it was the nearest “big” city. Home of Puccini, it holds a special place in our hearts as well as many great family memories. It is about 1 hour and fifteen minutes from La Fortezza, so it’s not unusual for us to go there for concerts even now. They have an amazing summer pop concert series. In fact, this year is was part of Elton John’s farewell tour! There are some fun activities that have popped up over the years. For example, food tours on bikes are popular.

Frank and I recently met a photographer, an American who has moved to Lucca with his wife. Tom England, was a photojournalist for Time Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, and National Geographic, to name a few.

Along with his on the road assignments, on his off time, Tom taught photography. Since Tom has tons of energy and a natural curiosity, he found exploring Lucca through the lens to be quite exciting. Last year Tom decided to start a photo touring business in Lucca. Since he has scoped out some amazing secret spots and knows all the best angles, not to mention his expertise, his tours have become quite popular. Frank and I decided that it would be fun to reserve one of his photo tours. It was amazing. Not only did he take us to some beautiful and photogenic spots off the beaten path, but he guided us to some really beautiful imagery. His teaching style was both informative, casual, and interesting.

We spent 3 hours walking all over Lucca, down alleyways and passages, all while listening to his stories about his amazing career as a photo journalist for iconic American publications. At times it seemed that he was the real-life Sean Penn, photographer in The Secret Life of Walter Middy. A great storyteller and teacher, it was a great idea to trek Lucca with Tom.

Tom and Frank framing the shot

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All the locals know Tom

Lucca is a small but scenic town on the far western side of Tuscany, near Pisa; it is an oasis for ex-pats because it’s so close to the Pisa airport and easy to manage as far as size goes. We had a great time, and I highly recommend Tom England’s photo tour if you’re looking the photograph Lucca in a more artistic and different way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Put Lucca on your list and head to the activities page on the Workshop and Retreat Website to get more suggestions about Lucca.

xx Annette

All Beauty behind the scenes Crushing On Events Instagram italy Notes from Italy Personal photography The Fortress Travel Tuscany Uncategorized Workshops : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,