Finished… Finito…All Done, the last photoshoot for La Fortezza Cookbook

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The Dapper David Loftus, photographer and fashion plate sipping the Rosé named for him.

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Chef Leo, garnishing the local dish, in an authentic Lunigiana cast iron cooking vessel, called a testa.

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Me at my new bar, that was a delivery saga let’s just say I was happy it arrived and was in one piece.

Ciao everyone!  I can’t believe I am saying this, but I am done with La Fortezza Cookbook. The manuscript? Check,. The recipe testing? Check. Edits? Check. Photo-shoots per season? Check.

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La Fortezza, capture by David, his POV is perfection.   92DA59CE-8F04-440C-BA52-740073A6C28D_1_201_a

As you can imagine, shooting a seasonal cookbook in Italy has been a challenge. We had to cancel the very first shoot for the winter Chapter in February 2020. We were finally able to shoot the summer chapter August 2020, and with lots of restrictions and hurdles, we managed to shoot summer with me and my local chef Leo, then in October. I brought our workshop chef from the US which was no small feat. He, unfortunately, was going through some personal issues which did affect the quality of his work and the food which was another challenge on top of the other challenges was a lot for me to process. We soldiered on in March, hiring a new food stylist from England, the incredible Rosie Scott. All the while David Loftus, my photographer, was truly brilliant and consistent and created the most beautiful images. Rosie, our stylist from London, joined the team in March, along with our local chef Leo. We tackled the re-shoots from October’s shoot, as well as the new images for winter (yes, winter at the end of March. We lucked out with some unseasonably cold weather). Rosie and Leo knocked it out of the park. We had the crew back from London last week to shoot the final chapter, spring. With London lockdowns, endless covid 19 tests, daily temperature checks, travel restrictions, and tons of paperwork, we made it happen. My friend and superstar producer Barbara Pederzini was one of the reasons the shoot went so smoothly. She was my rock, to say the least.

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Daily temperature checks, Rosie and Charlie doing their temperature checks.

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With endless playlists, espressos, market runs, sunshine, heat, rain, and cold days, we had a great time. There were many many challenges, but I am beyond pleased with the recipes, and the images are outrageously gorgeous. This book, as we referred to it, will be “the most beautiful book in the world”. I am delighted that all of our local slow food purveyors’ stories are included, and the rich history of this little-known region of Italy, The Lunigiana, will be the star. I am proud and so excited to share it with all of you. Endless thank yous to David, Rosie, Leo, Barbara and of course, Charlie, Rosie’s lovely and helpful husband, who saved my ass driving to see the Shepherdess in Zeri…that’s another story for another time… dream team does not begin to describe this crew. Fin…xx

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Easy Weeknight Dinner:: Spaghetti & Meatballs

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Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend. I don’t know about you guys, but I feel like I am always searching for quick and easy weeknight dinners. Between work, my side hustle, social commitments, and volunteering, I have my hands full, and by the end of the day, I really don’t want to cook. At least, not a huge meal that requires a ton of ingredients.

I often search Annette’s blog archives to find simple suppers that fit three requirements: quick, easy, and uses ingredients on hand. Read: I don’t want to go to the grocery store every day and to be honest, I don’t want to “meal plan” either. That’s where Annette’s spaghetti and meatballs come in.

This recipe uses pantry staples and makes enough that I can freeze the remainder for leftovers. Win win!

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Serves 4-6

For the sauce, you will need:
– 1 small onion chopped
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
– 1 28 oz, can chopped tomatoes
– 3 cloves minced garlic
– 3 tablespoons dried oregano 1/2 teaspoon salt

To prepare:

In a saucepan, add oil and onions cook until onions are translucent. Add tomatoes and garlic oregano, salt and stir. Simmer on low for at least 3 hours.* Note you will be adding the meatballs into the sauce.

For the meatballs, you will need:
– 1½ pound ground beef
– 3 garlic cloves, minced
– ¼ red onion, diced fine
– 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
– 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
– 1 egg
– ½ teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
– 1 cup olive oil for frying

One box of spaghetti (hooray for boxed spaghetti!)

To prepare meatballs:

In a large bowl combine, beef, 3 cloves of garlic, onion, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, and 1 teaspoon salt and rosemary. Mix ingredients by hand until completely combined. Form 2-3″ balls place on a cookie sheet and into the freezer for 1 hour. While meatballs are in the freezer put together the tomato sauce. Pull the meatballs out of the freezer Fry the meatballs. Place oil into a large frying pan, heat over medium heat, place meatballs into the hot oil, make sure to fry in batches, and they will need room to roll and fry evenly. Fry until golden, remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towel. Add the meatballs to the sauce, simmer for at least 3 hours. Serve with spaghetti, follow cooking instructions on the pasta box. Serve in bowls with grated Parmesan cheese.

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Introducing Grandmillennial Shop:: Nicole’s side hustle

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I scored this sofa table at Scott Antique Market for pennies.

Hi All!

It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend here today to introduce something near and dear to me: my side-hustle, Grandmillennial Shop. For nearly two years, I have been perusing estate sales, thrift shops and antique stores for the very best grandmillennial style items. Then, I sell my goods during my weekly sales on Fridays at 9 AM, EST and Sundays at 5 PM, EST.

Are you familiar with the term grandmillennial? It was coined by former House Beautiful editor, Emma Bazillion a few years ago, and it has stuck as the definition of those of us who love great antiques, spend time needlepointing, and can never pass up a vintage floral fabric. Basically, it’s me. And no, it’s not granny-chic. It’s more than that.

Seen here: Staffordshire figure dated 1850s, sterling silver coasters & snuffer, and a crystal vase – all estate finds!

I have always been an old soul. I bought my first antique in 2007, and have been stocking my house with them ever since. I love chintz and chinoiserie, and I have a sterling silver collection that might rival your grandmother’s. Ironically, my great-grandparents owned a furniture store in Montgomery, Alabama. I never knew them, but I like to think that their spirit lives on in my love for old things.

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In the background of this photo of my living and dining room, you can see a bamboo barcart. I actually bought this with Annette a few years ago!

Plus, you simply cannot beat the deals and the quality found in vintage and antique pieces. I’ve even convinced my friends and sister of it! For example, the below rug is a vintage, Chinese rug. It’s handwoven, and my sister scored it for $35!!!! It’s a lifetime piece, and it’s fabulous! The next photo is of my Brunschwig & Fils scallop black-out drapes. All 6 panels were $300. WOWZAS.

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My sister’s vintage rug she scored for $35.

 

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My estate sale drapery.

I get most of my finds at estate sales. They’re so fun to peruse because you get to see how people used the items for sale (hello inspo!), plus who doesn’t love a house tour? My number one tip for finding estate sales in your area is to use estatesales.net. It’s such a great website! You can see how far a particular sale is from your location, as well as see photos to see if it’s worth the trek. I even used it last week while on a buying trip to central Florida! I pulled it up, found a sale a few minutes away, and left with some awesome goods!

A few of my finds on the right and my big tote bag I always bring to sales.

If you’re in Atlanta, you can shop with me at Westside Market Toco Hills. But if you’re not local to Atlanta, you can shop with me via Instagram. I sell everything from vintage P. Kaufmann fabric to mid-century barware and even contemporary Grandmillenial finds like tassels that match the overall aesthetic!

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I’d love for you to follow me over at Grandmillennial Shop on Instagram. It’s a fun, vibrant follow, and it’s quickly become my pride and joy! Thank you, Annette, for letting me share my shop here. I can’t wait to go thrifting with you in Italy!

xo Nicole

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La Fortezza Cookbook, Winter photoshoot in the Spring

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Rosie Scott, our foodstylist, adding her final touches to the Chickpea Soup recipe on set

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Monitor showing the recipe for Bavette with Spicy Anchovy

Hi there. As you all know, I am working on my latest cookbook, La Fortezza Cookbook. It will be a cookbook based on my time here in the Lunigiana region in Italy. Obviously, this has been a challenging time to work on anything that involves a location.

We last shot the fall chapter in October of 2020 which was honestly less challenging. Now with all the rules, regulations, and protocols, it has been extra stressful. Our team is from London, so the lock-down in England postponed the shoot until last week.

I’ve been so worried since it is a seasonal book, and it is already full-on spring here, and we were shooting the winter chapter. But the gods smiled on us, and it felt like winter here last week: dark, grey and miserable. In all my of years of styling, I have never prayed for bad weather, but lucky for me my prayers were answered, and we managed to replicate winter to the fullest.

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David and Rosie needed a Covid Test for their flight back to London. It was quite easy.

Three out of 5 of us are fully vaccinated (including me), so it was easy to distance and much less stressful. Although we did not travel around as much to shoot the countryside this time or photograph portraits, it was really a nice week, even with all the extra precautions. Everyone had to get a Covid test to fly back to London, but even that was pretty seamless.

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The best part of the shoot, which was not actually part of the shoot, was the delivery of David Loftus Rosé. I had been working on it all winter, and it finally arrived with a beautiful label designed by David himself. David loves a good rosé, so I asked him last fall during the harvest if he’d like to develop one with me. Of course, he was totally on board. It seemed fitting to name the wine for this Rosé enthusiast. What a thrill to have him taste it for the first time. We agree that it has definite notes of strawberry, and he even tasted vanilla. It’s bright, not sweet, and quite enjoyable. We will be enjoying many icy cold glasses, the way David likes it, at the pool this summer.

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One more chapter to go which is spring. Then, we will be finished with the photography. La Fortezza Cookbook, Rizzoli NY, releases spring 2022. As you can imagine, there is plenty to do before it goes to the printer. I will never forget putting this book together in the middle of a pandemic. Who could forget?! Stay tuned for more BTS at the end of June with our fabulous crew. xx

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Meet our new Guest Liaison- Jenna Galowich

IMG_3314 I would like to introduce our newest Annette Joseph Style team member. Jenna Galowich.

Full disclosure: I have been looking to fill this position for a few years. But I took my time to find someone that was the perfect fit. Imagine my delight when Jenna reached out. She told me her family was from Fivizzano. “What luck!” I thought. Then we met over zoom for several interviews, I knew she was just right. She’s enthusiastic and well-traveled, her background includes the hospitality business, as well as marketing. Please join me in welcoming her. I really look forward to working with her and seeing what her talents bring to enrich our guest experience here at La Fortezza. For those of you signed up for fall workshops and experiences, you are in for a treat,

Benvenuta Jenna!

A little about Jenna in her own words, take it away Jenna:

Buongiorno a tutti! It’s Jenna here – the newest member of the Annette Joseph Style Workshops & Retreats dream team. I am so thrilled to be working with our guests as the guest liaison, ensuring that everyone has the best experience possible during workshops, as well as working behind the scenes as we prepare every year for new workshop experiences and offerings.

A little bit about me: although I am a Chicagoan by birth, I am incredibly fortunate to also call Los Angeles and Paris home as well. An interesting fact about me the location of La Fortezza, in Fivizzano, Italy is in my blood – it is my ancestral hometown, as my Italian side of the family has their roots there and called it home for centuries! I recently earned my bachelor’s degree in marketing from The American University of Paris, which was one of the greatest and most transformative experiences of my life. Prior to Paris, I briefly lived in Rome, where I fell even more in love with Italy, Italian culture, Italian food, and the Italian people more than I already was.

When I’m not working at La Fortezza, I love traveling and hanging out at the dog park in front of the Louvre with Charlie my rescue pup, learning new languages, meeting new people from all walks of life, going to the authentic family-owned restaurants and spending time in the mountains hiking. There is nothing that I enjoy more than working with people, and I am so excited to meet and work with our guests at La Fortezza this fall.

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