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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Chic Pigs in a Blanket:: Meet Salami Puffs

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Salami puffs are such a quick and fun appetizer for an evening aperitivo. This easy appetizer pulls together in no time. Think of it as pigs-in-a-blanket’s chic older sister…but better!

The recipe calls for cream cheese which is always a winner. Fun fact: in Italy, cream cheese is simply called “Philadelphia.”

Salami Puffs
serves 12

You will need:
– 12 slices Genova salami slices cut in half
– 1 sheet puff pastry
– ½ cup cream cheese

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Thaw the puff pastry, and unroll on a board covered in parchment paper. With
a rolling pin, roll the pastry into a 12-by-12-inch square. Then, spread the cream cheese on top of the puff pastry. Cut the pastry with a sharp knife into 3-by-3-inch squares. Place a salami half on top of each pastry square, then fold corners of the square together over the salami until they meet in the center, forming a small pouch. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve at room temperature.

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Introducing Grandmillennial Shop:: Nicole’s side hustle

Grandmillennial Shop Living Room

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.

Grandmillennial living room

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.

 

Pattern mixing

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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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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Fireside Paella Party

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I have always been intrigued by cooking over an open fire. There’s nothing like burning wood to infuse every dish with a lovely smoky flavor. A few years ago, when I was the entertaining editor of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME, I hosted a fireside paella party that was featured in the magazine, and I thought that with people itching to get outdoors, it would be a great time to revive the recipe.

While paella is a labor-intensive dish, prep time accounts for most of the work, making the dish relatively easy for the host to assemble once guests arrive. I love giving even the most casual event an exotic flair. Low-slung tables on top of layered Moroccan rugs transported guests to another place. I gathered arty props, including golden Moorish lanterns with delicate filigree cutouts, to decorate the table. A collection of colorful Moroccan tea glasses with votives added twinkle, and for a pop of color, I snipped bright flower heads and scattered them down the table’s center. Hot pink peonies were especially dramatic.

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As the fire pit blazed and the sun went down, we sipped pink sangria and watched the flames lick the bubbling paella pan. If you are looking for an excuse to gather an intimate crowd without the fuss of a big meal, paella is your answer.

Annette’s Fireside Paella
Serves 8

You will need:
• 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
• Olive oil
• 1 tablespoon paprika
• Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 red bell pepper
• 1 green bell pepper
• 2 tablespoons saffron
• 1 pound chorizo, cut into 3-inch pieces
• ½ onion, chopped
• 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 4 cups Bomba rice (a specialty Spanish rice)
• 6 cups chicken stock
• 1 cup crushed tomatoes
• 2 cups haricots verts, trimmed and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
• 1 pound calamari, cleaned and cut crosswise into ½-inch rings
• 16 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
• 1 dozen mussels, scrubbed
• ½ package frozen lima beans
• 2 cups fresh or frozen peas
• 2 lemons

To prepare:

Place chicken in a large bowl and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle chicken with paprika and ½ teaspoon salt; turn chicken to coat. Cover chicken and let marinate, refrigerated, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Remove stems, seeds, and ribs from peppers and cut into quarters. Cut quarters crosswise into ¼-inch strips; set aside.

Using a mortar and pestle, grind saffron. Put saffron mixture in a medium bowl and add 2 cups of warm water. Whisk until well combined; set aside.

If using a charcoal grill, make a fire in your grill. When the briquettes are completely covered in gray ash, hold your hand about 5 inches above the grill grid and count how many seconds you can comfortably leave it there. When you can only hold it there for a second or two, you have high heat and are ready to cook. (Alternatively, you can cook paella on a stove over high heat.)

Place a 20-inch paella pan with 3-inch sides over heat source. Coat bottom of pan with olive oil and heat until pan is very hot, about 5 minutes. Add chicken thighs and cook, turning, until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add chorizo and cook, turning, until browned, about 3 minutes. Remove sausage from pan and set aside.

Add onions and garlic to pan, and saute until onions are caramelized.

Add rice and saffron water to onion-garlic mixture and stir to coat; cook about 1 minute. Add 3 cups of stock and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes, peppers, and haricots verts. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.

Add chicken, sausage, calamari, and shrimp, and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes more. Add clams and mussels. Cook until rice is tender, about 15 minutes, adding more stock as necessary.

Add lima beans and peas and cook until tender, about 3 minutes more. Season with salt and freshly squeezed lemon juice; serve immediately.

Photography by Sarah Dorio

First appeared in Atlanta Magazine’s HOME

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