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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Negroni Fizz:: Summer’s Staple Sip

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Ciao from Italy!  As you all know, it’s Memorial Day which is the unofficial start to summer, so I’m sure many of you are enjoying cookouts.

If that’s you, I’ve got a wonderful festive summer cocktail for you: the Negroni Fizz. Not only is this drink a bold red (perfect for Memorial Day), but it’s delicious too.

If you are having a few friends over, mix-up a big batch without the rose and put it in a cute drink dispenser. Then, allow guests to fill their glasses at will. Leave ice buckets of rose nearby for attendees to top their drinks. This will keep the bubbles fresh and add a fun little DIY to the party.

To really make a statement, find some cute blue and white paper straws, too. Super festive and fun.

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Negroni Fizz
Serves 1

You will need:

– 1 ounce Gin
– 1 ounce Martini Sweet Vermouth
– 1 ounce Campari
– 1 1/2 slice of orange for garnish
– Ice cubes
– Martini Sparkling Rose

Instructions:

Combine Martini Rosso and Campari Gin in a shaker filled with ice. Strain into an ice-filled tumbler 3/4 full and top off with the Martini Sparkling Rose. Garnish with an orange slice and enjoy.

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Photographs by Kathryn McCrary

This recipe first appeared on Camille Styles.

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Happy Birthday to my baby Italy is My Boyfriend!

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On May 26, 2020, my memoir, Italy is my Boyfriend, was born. It was a monumental moment for me. It complies all of my experiences in Italy, including finding our home here, all in one place.

It was a strange year to be releasing a book. No book signings. Everything was via Zoom or Instagram stories and lives. Different, but necessary. I had a wonderful interview to kick off the virtual book tour with The Florentine and at The Atlanta History Center via Zoom, with my great friend and Editor and Chief Betsy Riley. I also did a fun podcast with Bit by a Fox. But to be honest, I would rather have been on the road meeting people and signing books. Having said this, the response was amazing. I had so many people reach out that had read my book, and tell me that in some small way, my book gave them a little reprieve from what was happening in the world.

To celebrate it’s one-year birthday, I will be giving away lots of books and one very large prize. Of course, there will be some surprises, too, so make sure to follow me on Instagram  to keep up with all the birthday celebration events.

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The celebration will kick off the week before the birthday with all sorts of announcements, Instagram lives and much more. On May 18th, I will be chatting with my friend Thea Duncan of Doing Italy about buying a home in Italy and writing my book. I will be giving away books live during the interview, so you won’t want to miss it. May 21st, I will be on IG live answering questions and giving books away live again. We also will be doing TWO major book basket giveaways: one to an individual and one to a book club. You will not want to miss it. Come and join me as I celebrate one-year with Italy is my Boyfriend.

See you on the gram x

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My Seasonal Vegetable Grain Bowl

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Ciao everyone! As you know, I am in Italy. Every Tuesday, we have a lovely little outdoor market in our village. I try to go every week and load up on what’s seasonal in the veggie department. I try to eat at least one veggie grain bowl per week, sometimes two.

One thing I always have in the fridge are my pickled red onions from my book Picture Perfect Parties *(recipe included below). They add a nice tangy flavor to any salad or grain bowl. The grain I used here is Farro. It’s grown locally, and I use it in soups and all sorts of dishes. It will also be featured in my upcoming cookbook La Fortezza Cookbook, Rizzoli NY, releases Spring 2022. The cookbook is about the Lunigiana, the region we live in. It’s a really delicious grain.

These grain bowls, like the one pictured above, are a great way to incorporate seasonal vegetables into your diet. Try this bowl and let me know how you like it in the comments below. No need to stick to the vegetables I used in my bowl. Be creative and try your own versions.

Seasonal Vegetable Grain Bowl
Makes 2 bowls

You will need:

– 1/2 avocado sliced
– 1/4 cup Pickled Onions
– 2 cups Kale, I use Cavalo Nero *I bake this and it adds a lovely crunch to the bowl.
– 2 cups sweet potato peeled
– 2 cups Cauliflower
– 1 cup Arugula
-1 teaspoon Maldon Salt
– 2 tablespoons Balsamico
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 hard boiled eggs
– 1 cup Farro
– 1 1/2 cups Water

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Cut the cauliflower and the peeled sweet potato into bite size pieces, sprinkle with oil and salt, place into the oven for 45 minutes, until fork tender. Cut the Kale into bite size pieces and add to the baking sheet of sweet potatoes and cauliflower 30 minutes into baking time. The Kale will become crisp. Remove and cool. While the vegetables are baking. In a small sauce pan place water and Farro. Let simmer stirring a few times to prevent sticking, cook until all the water is absorbed about 30 minutes, set aside to cool.

To Assemble:

In a large bowl, add Farro, then Arugula, kale, sweet potatoes, then cauliflower into quadrants of the bowl. Add avacado slices, then pickled onion, and 1 egg sliced in half, then drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with Maldon salt. To eat toss everything together in the bowl and enjoy!

Pickled Red Onions

You will need:

– 1 large red onion sliced thin
– 1 cup red wine vinegar
– 2 tablespoons salt
– 1 teaspoon celery seed or peppercorns
– 3 tablespoons sugar
– ½ cup water

To prepare:

In a sauce pan put all the ingredients, and bring to a boil allow about 1 minute to cook. Turn off heat and let steep until cool. Put into a mason jar and place in the refrigerator for 2 days before using. Can be stored for up to 2 weeks.

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Shopping with me in Italy…who’s coming?!

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“As a prop stylist, I regard shopping as a sport”…

I am pretty over the moon to announce this 2022 spring retreat, The Great Italian Shopping Experience is back. A couple of years ago, I did a shopping retreat. Let’s just say it was super popular. We instantly sold out. We had a waiting list of 50 people…I am not even kidding…

So, next year, in June, I will be revamping this one with more shopping and more locations. Only 8 people can come for 5 days of non-stop flea-ing and shopping at all of my secret haunts. Who’s coming?

The dates are June 22- 27th 2022. Mark your calendars now! For all of you who missed your chance, we are launching this workshop on Friday, May 1st, so be sure check back in (or even better, subscribe to my newsletter).

We will be going to flea markets, junk shops, artisan food purveyors, vintage dealers, Italian merchants from this region and beyond.

I could not be more excited to go hunting and gathering with you…

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We’re Baaaaaack!

xx Annette

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