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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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Summer Bites:: Olive Oil Poached Shrimp

As you start to develop menus for dinners and appetizers for hot summer evenings, be sure to remember this quick olive oil poached shrimp recipe. It’s inspired by Italy’s tradition of aperitivo, and it is a yummy summer delicacy. This recipe basically tastes like summer. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Olive Oil Poached Shrimp

You will need:
– 3 cups olive oil
– 3 large fresh rosemary sprigs
– 18 uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
– 4 Lemon wedges

To prepare:

Add 3 cups olive oil into a heavy large saucepan, and add rosemary sprigs. Attach a deep-fry thermometer to the side of the saucepan and heat oil over medium heat until the thermometer registers between 165°F and 180°F. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper. Add shrimp to hot oil and poach just until shrimp are opaque in the center, adjusting heat to maintain a temperature between 165°F and 180°F, about 8 minutes. Transfer shrimp to paper towels to drain. Serve at room temperature, garnish with lemon wedges.

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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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La Fortezza Poolside Rosé Sangria Recipe

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Ciao! As you know, we have a new addition to our Joseph’s wine selection. We recently added the David Loftus Rosé. It a beautiful Italian-style rosé. It has notes of strawberry and vanilla, and it’s the perfect flavor for our new La Fortezza Rosé Sangria recipe. Since we will be opening our brand new pool, we thought a lovely Sangria cocktail would be an amazing idea for our guests to enjoy while lounging at the pool. Our daughter, Alex, came up with the idea. The recipe is adapted from a recipe in Blackberry Magazine. We love it.

La Fortezza Poolside Sangria

You will need: 
– 1 750mL bottle of David Loftus Rosé (you can use a good quality Italian Rosé)
– ¼ cup blood orange or orange juice
– 1 cups of Club soda
– Garnishes:
orange and lemon slices, sliced strawberries and springs of fresh rosemary from our garden.

To prepare:

Combine Rosé, and blood orange juice and strawberries in a large pitcher and stir.

Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Add ice all the way to the top of the pitcher and wedge in citrus slices and rosemary at desired spots.

Prior to serving, top with club soda for added fizz.

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Inspired by Blackberry Magazine.

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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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