Culinary Peach Picks: Annette Joseph

When I began this blog three years ago, I didn't realize how much work it would be- how besides writing and curating, I'd at times also be a food and prop stylist. I needed (and still need) a professional like Annette Joseph by my side. For over 20 years, Annette has perfected the art of styling, whether it's tabletop, home decor, cooking or entertaining. Each summer, she leaves the South to hone her culinary skills in a picturesque Italian villa...sigh. Italy is my true love and I was reminded of this every day this past summer as I perused her deliciously good Instagram pics. I'm thrilled that Annette decided to share her top culinary picks for the holiday season with Sweet Peach. Each and every one is perfetto! (especially the last one...) 

Blue Bottle Coffee, $19. This is the real deal- probably one of the best brews this side of the ocean. This Roman Espresso does not disappoint. 

John Derian Mug, $135. I'll take one of these exquisite mugs to enjoy my morning ritual. Please and thank you. 

Brass & Walnut Pour Over Coffee Stand, $189. It's obvious that i'm a coffee snob. Truth- this brass coffee pour stand is divine! 

Nespresso Machine, $99. This item has a regular appearance on my gift giving list. Everyone that loves coffee should have one. I personally own four machines. 

Tagine Style Glass Cloche, $50. I bought one of these cloches in Napa a few years ago. It's a great addition to any cheese platter. 

Flavored Olive Oil Set, $86. From Oliviers and Company, these are the best flavored olive oils. When I summer in Italy, I drive over the border to France just to buy them at the shop in Menton- plus the shop keeper is gorgeous, so that doesn't hurt. Lemon is my personal favorite but try a few flavors. It's a perfect gift. 

Nutribullet, $160. I am totally obsessed with The Nutribullet. I use mine every day. It's great for Juice January, which is something I do every year. 

Rosmarino Ligurian Pesto, $12. The Italian region I live in during the summer has the most heavenly pesto...

Paella Pan, $22. I am smitten with Paella, plus everyone needs a Paella pan. 

Teak Measuring Spoons, $30. Beauty and utility all in one from one of my favorite shops in Savannah. 

Copper Measuring Cups, $28. I love copper touches right now. I am thinking seriously about exposed copper pipes all over our villa in Italy when we renovate. Until those are installed, these copper measuring cups will do.

Artisan Sea Salt, $22. I love the new trend in flavored salt. Obviously, the Espresso is one of my favorites. 

Clipping Scissors, $16. One can always use a good set of clipping scissors, or two or three...

Ticking Cafe Apron, $53. I collect aprons and this one works for both men and women. 

Italy Food and Prop Styling Workshop, $2275. Join me for a once in a lifetime creative, photographic retreat on the Italian Riviera in June of 2015. 

 Top Illustration: Rob Wilson of Silas Tom  

 

Girls Day Out in Florence

Florence is one of my favorite Italian cities, albeit it's overgrown with tourists these days. (My advice is to go in the off, off season.) While my bff and I were staying in Bologna, we knew we needed to revisit this enchanting city for a day, so we jumped on the train and headed south...

Firenze e' una delle mie citta' italiane preferite, nonostante sia invasa dai turisti. (il mio suggerimento e' di andarci fuori stagione). Anche se io e la mia migliore amica stavama a Bologna, sapevamo di dover tornare in questa citta' incantata per un giorno, cosi' abbiamo preso il treno dirette a sud. 

Florence is a great city to buy leather goods so our first stop was the no-nonsense shoe shop, Rive Gauche. Stefano Chiari designs all the shoes offered here and has run this tiny but well packed shop for 30 years.  

Firenze e' un ottimo posto per comprare articoli in pelle cosi' la nostra prima fermata e' stata al negozio di scarpe Rive Gauche. Stefano Chiari disegna tutte le scarpe ad ha mandato avanti questo negozio, piccolino ma molto ben fornito per 30 anni. 

All the shoes are made with the highest quality leather in neutral tones of browns and blacks. I happily bought these cute brown laced flats. 

Tutte le scarpe sono fatte con pelle di altissima qualita' in toni neutri del marrone e in nero. Mi sono presa un paio di scarpe pari con i lacci. 

If you visit Florence, be sure to walk across the Arno River to the San Spirito section. There are tons of great shops and restaurants and depending how far you walk, can be less touristy.

Se andate a Firenze, assicuratevi di attraversare l'Arno e andare nella zona dello Spirito Santo. Ci sono tantissimi bei negozi e ristoranti e, a seconda di quanto camminate, dovrebbe essere meno turistica. 

Needing a break from pasta, Vanessa and I followed a suggestion by the NY Times and headed for Lungarno 23 for a Tuscan hamburger. 

Siccome avevamo bisogno di una tregua dalla pasta, io e Vanessa abbiamo seguito i suggerimenti del NY Times e ci siamo dirette a Lungarno 23 per un hamburger toscano. 

The high quality beef comes from Chianina cattle, an Italian breed that has been raised in Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio for at least 2200 years. They are the tallest and heaviest of all cattle and may I say, this may be the best burger I ever had. 

La carne bovina di altissima qualita' viene da allevamenti di Chianina, una razza allevata in Toscana, Umbria e Lazio da almeno 2200 anni. Tra tutti i tipi di bestiame, questi sono i piu' alti ed i piu' forti e, lasciatemelo dire, questo e' forse il piu' buon burger che ho mai mangiato. 

After our lunch, we strolled the streets for a few hours and found SOqquadro, a vintage home decor shop that was beautifully curated.  

Dopo pranzo, abbiamo camminato per qualche ora ed abbiamo trovato SOqquandro, un magnifico negozio di modernariato, oggetti d'arte e accessori. 

I love how they have a little bit of everything here, including handbags, tables, toys, trinkets... even a rack of vintage clothing.

Mi piace il fatto che abbiamo un po' di tutto, comprese borse, giochi, gingili...e perfino vestiti vintage. 

We finished our girls day out in the city with pasta, veggies and delicious Tuscan wine at Trattoria dei Quattro Leoni. Perfect! 

Abbiamo concluso la nostra giornata in citta' con pasta, verdure ed ottimo vino toscano alla Trattoria dei Quattro Leoni. Perfetto! 

  

Photos and Content: Sweet Peach.  Pic # 9 Lungarno 23

 

The Yarn Kitchen

Knowing I would be traveling in the Emilia Romagna region, I contacted Stella Melgrati, who lives in Ferrara, as soon as I secured my plane ticket. I always see her lovely work featured on Etsy and wanted to meet her in person to learn a bit more about her popular shop, the Yarn Kitchen. 

Sapendo che sarei andata in giro per l'Emilia Romagna, appena presi i biglietti aerei, ho contatto Stella Melgrati, che vive a Ferrara. Vedo sempre i suoi a prodotti, presentati su Etsy, e volevo incontrarla di persona per saperne di piu' del suo negozio, Yarn Kitchen. 

Stella crafts all manner of things with yarn but her felted bowls are the most popular. All have an imperfect, small shape and come in a variety of colors. 

Stella crea ogni tipo di oggetto con filati ma le sue ciotole di feltro sono quelle che vanno per la maggiore. Hanno tutte una piccola forma imperfetta e ne esistono di vari colori. 

Stella knits every day. As she shared, "I travel with my yarn and even bring it to work for whenever I have downtime." 

Stella lavora a maglia ogni giorno. Come ci ha detto "viaggio con la mia lana e me la porta perfino al lavoro per quando ho un momento libero." 

Stella's had her Etsy shop for 18 months and most of her customers are from the US. 

Stella ha il suo negozio da 18 mesi e la maggiore parte dei suoi clienti sono Americani. 

Another of my favorite items in her shop are her beautiful placemats, made with untreated yarn, crocheted and felted. If you don't see a color combination you like, just tell Stella your preference and she'll make it happen. 

Un altro dei miei oggetti preferiti nel suo negozio, sono le tovagliette all'Americana, fatte con lana non trattata, lavorate all'uncinetto e successivamente feltrate. Se non trovi la combinazione di colori che cerchi, basta che tu la spieghi a Stella e lei te la crea. 

Thank you Stella for opening your home to us and sharing a bit of your craft. So so lovely... visit her Etsy shop here and add a little homespun coziness to your decor. 

Grazie Stella per averci aperto la tua casa e per averci mostrato le tue creazioni. Splendide. Andate al suo negozio, qui, e aggiungete un po' di intimita' al vostro arredamento. 

Italians are known for their hospitality and Stella showcased this in offering Vanessa and I some tea and a whole plate of delicious pasticcini. So sweet, and so good. Thank you Stella!

Gli Italiani sono conosciuti per la loro ospitalita' e Stella ce ne ha dato prova offrendo a me e Vanessa del te' e dei buonissimi pasticcini. Un gesto cosi' dolce e buono. Grazie Stella! 

 

Photos and Content: Sweet Peach


A Day in Modena, Part 2

If you're visiting Modena, it's a good idea to visit an acetaia as well. An acetaia is where traditional balsamic vinegar is made. My friend, Vanessa and I decided on the acclaimed Villa San Donnino, about a 15 minute cab ride from downtown. 

Se andate a Modena, andare a vedere un'acetaia e' sempre una buona idea. L'acetaia e' dove si produce il tradizionale aceto balsamico. Io e Vanessa abbiamo scelto Villa San Donnino, a circa 15 minuti di taxi dal centro della citta'. 

The traditional process of crafting balsamic vinegar typically takes place in the attic of a house, as seen here. The windows are often left open, allowing for the hot air to enter in the summer and the cold air in the winter.  

Il processo tradizionale di produzione dell'aceto balsamico avviene tipicamente nella mansarda di una casa, come si vede qui. Le finestre sono spesso aperte, cosi' da far entrare aria calda in estate e fredda in inverno. 

The balsamic is aged in various sized casks in a process called topping up...

L'aceto balsamico viene invecchiato in botti di varia misura nel corso di un processo chiamato "Travasi e rincalzi." 

It's a complicated procedure to explain but it essentially draws on the knowledge of generations past in knowing what to add, when and how much. 

E' una procedura complicata da spiegare ma si basa sulla conoscenza trasmessa di generazione in generazione sugli ingredienti che si devono aggiungere, la loro quantita' ed i tempi. 

Davide Lonardi, the owner of the villa and our gracious guide, (he offers free tours every day) first explained what makes his vinegar the true balsamic. 

Davide Lonardi, il proprietario della villa e nostra cortese guida (offre viste gratuite ogni giorno), ci ha spiegato, come prima cosa, cio' che rende il suo aceto un vero balsamico. 

The traditional vinegars are labeled as Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena, aged for a minimum of 12 years and Extra Vecchio, aged for a minimum of 25 years. The bottles hold no more than 100 milliliters and showcase the letters DOP.

Gli aceti tradizionali sono definiti Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena, e sono invecchiati per almeno 12 anni mentre l'Extra Vecchio per almeno 25 anni. Le bottiglie contengono al massimo 100 ml. e riportano la denominazione DOP. 

Davide shared teaspoons of their balsamic vinegars, aged 6 to 30 years. It's an amazing difference and one that will make you an instant vinegar snob. 

Davide ci ha offerto i suoi aceti balsamici in cucchiaini, invecchiati da 6 a 30 anni. C'e' una differenza incredible che ti fa diventare all'istante uno snob dell'aceto. 

Davide and his wife also gave Vanessa and I a small scoop of vanilla gelato with a few drops (that's all you'll ever need) of their traditional vinegar. Heavenly...

Davide e sua moglie hanno anche offerto a me e Vanessa una piccola palla di gelato alla vaniglia con alcune gocce (ne bastano poche) del loro aceto tradizionale. Divino... 

We are so happy Davide is continuing his family's legacy. If you're a cook, or have a loved one who is, may I suggest one of Davide's vinegars as a present. It's an incredible gift, made with generations of knowledge, passion and care. 

Ci fa molto piacere che Davide continui la tradizione della sua famiglia. Se vi piace cucinare o conoscete qualcuno a cui piace, vi suggerisco uno degli aceti di Davide da offrire in regalo E' un regalo incredibile, frutto dell'esperienza, passione e cura di generazioni. 

  

Photos and Content: Sweet Peach. jetakppa.com & Villa San Donnino


Bicchierini

My friend Angela is from Bologna, Italy but has lived in Georgia with her husband, Luca for the past 8 years. I try to visit regularly to see them, eat wonderful food and practice my ever struggling Italian. (I'm a bit obsessive about Italy...) 

One of my favorite features in her home is her silver tray of little glasses she keeps in her dining room. They're called bicchierini in Italian. (bee-key-air-ee-knee)

For the past 25 years, Angela has collected these antique glasses in Italy. She loves that each one holds a a unique story and personality. It's true, with each visit I find myself picking a new favorite. 

In Italy, the bicchierini are used for after dinner drinks such as Grappa or Amari. Angela uses her little glasses for a homemade limoncello recipe. Limoncello is originally from the Campania region of southern Italy where the best lemons grow. Learn more on the history of limoncello here. (recipe below) 

Angela bought her glasses at various Mercatini dell'Antiquariato or Antique Markets throughout Italy. One of her favorites is located in Arezzo, in the Tuscany region. The majority of her little glasses, however, she found at her hometown market in Bologna called, Mercatino Antiquariato di Bologna. Located in Piazza Santo Stefano, this gathering takes place every second weekend of the month (pictured above.) I hope to travel to Bologna this fall and add a few bicchierini to her collection, and perhaps start my own! Grazie mille alla mia cara amica...

Angela shares her Crema di Limoncello recipe below. If you've had limoncello before I bet you'd like this version as it's a bit smoother and has a quality much like Bailey's. Delicioso! 

CREMA DI LIMONCELLO  

*12 LEMONS. Clean, unwaxed with nice, plump skins. Preferably organic and the skins should give off a lemon scent. 

*4 cups of EVERCLEAR (95%- 190 proof) 

* 8 cups of SKIM MILK, if you like it less strong, add more milk, such as 9-10 cups)

*10 cups of SUGAR

* Pinch or dash of VANILLA, powder or extract

1. Wash the lemons with hot water and brush them to remove any residue of pesticides or wax. 

2. Remove the peel from the lemons with a sharp peeler or fine grater, carefully avoiding the bitter white pith. If any white pith remains on the back of a strip of peel, scrape it off as it will create a bitter taste. 

3. Put all the Everclear in a big glass jar. Add lemon zest. 

4. Cover jar with sealed lid and leave to steep in a cool, dark place for about 2 weeks. 

5. Heat the milk in a big saucepan (covered). Add vanilla, stir and let it cool for a couple of hours. 

6. Add the sugar and vanilla to the milk and heat again to completely melt the sugar. (just a few minutes)

7. Let the mix cool and place in the fridge overnight to ensure it's really cold. 

8. Strain out the lemon peels and keep the alcohol. 

9. Add the flavored alcohol to the cold mix and stir. 

10. Put the liquor in clean bottles, seal tightly and store in the freezer. *The recipe will yield 3 large bottles. 

 

Photos and Content: Sweet Peach. Market Photo by Angela Messori.