Fall Harvest and Festivals In Switzerland.

 

It is always a struggle for me to decide whether to travel to Europe in the fall-it is the most fantastic time to go, when the tourists have abated and the festivals of wine, harvests and the “hunt” for game and mushrooms are beginning.   But, it is always hard for me to leave my beloved northern Wisconsin which has amazing color and weather this time of year.  So I usually wait for the last moment and go in October to catch the best of both.    Some of my best memories of fall in Europe are the visits with my husband Stephan to his home town of Schaffhausen, a beautiful city in northern Switzerland.   We stay at  the Park Villa Hotel.   I cannot compare this place to anywhere else I have ever stayed.   The proprietor Max is a true gentleman, the ultimate host, and let me add, quirky and entertaining.   The entire hotel, including the guest rooms, are stuffed with amazing antiques…not your usual antiques, but truly amazing one-of-a-kind.    His kitchen is wonderful.   During the fall, the truffles and other mushrooms are on the menu along with incredible game dishes that Max has worked his magic on.   Swiss wine is always a treat.  You rarely see it here in the states because they do not export very much, so that light, wonderful, local wine of Schaffhausen made from Pinot Noir grapes  is something I always look forward to.   All around Shaffhausen in the country villages there are the festivals for the fall, usually centered around the wine harvest.   And we always find room for a  lovely sausage and beer.  Also, one cannot miss a trip to the Rhinefalls- the biggest waterfall in Europe.

One of the things I love most is that life changes season to season and always there is something to look forward to.   I think when I am home I get caught up in the day to day activities, but over there, the seasons and harvest bring out such different tones.   I think it is the traditional vs our modern world.  They retain the traditions and keep them alive for future generations.   My kind of world.

For the season at our Ann Marie shop I have brought in some special dinnerware -Forest Walk, new from Juliska of Portugal.  Also, our vintage pewter pieces from Arte Italica are a handsome addition to any celebration and add a luxury element to your Forest Feast.  It is a time to start thinking  feasts and platters and wine and celebrations and creating a lovely table for the upcoming celebrations.

For food and drink I am stocking my pantry with Ann Marie fall gourmet foods like Chestnut Egg Tagliatelle, Truffle Salt, Truffle Oil, Truffle and Olive Pate, Polenta, and Risotto.   For a delicious warm up try our  Pumpkin Spice, Cinnamon Cranberry, and our special Harvest Fall Blend Coffee.   More inspirations include Cherry Bitters for a hot toddy and Hazelnut Cranberry Crisps to serve with goat cheese.

Happy Fall Celebrations,

Ann Marie

 


 

Inspired by fall in Shaffhausen, enjoy this pasta with mushrooms along with your favorite Pinot Noir and a simple salad of bitter greens with a classic vinaigrette.  The town of Shaffhausen owns a vineyard around the Munot Castle that sits in the center of town overlooking the River Rhein.  The wine they produce is named Munoetler.

View on Rhine river and famous Munot fortifiction. Schaffhausen, Switzerland.

View on Rhine river and famous Munot fortifiction. Schaffhausen, Switzerland.

Pasta with Fall Mushrooms

Serves 4-6

2 packages 8.8 oz. Chestnut Egg Tagliatelle 

1/2 pound assorted wild mushrooms (golden chanterelle, shiitake, cremini, oyster, porcini, etc.), trimmed and sliced

2 cloves garlic minced

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup heavy cream

salt

freshly ground pepper

Truffle oil

Grated Pecorino Cheese to taste

Handful of chopped Italian parsley

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil.

In a large saute pan, over medium high heat, heat the butter and olive oil. Add the garlic and saute for just until it becomes aromatic and careful not to burn.  Add the mushrooms and saute until they begin to brown and release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and let reduce about 5 minutes. Add the cream and reduce about 5 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and quickly toss with mushroom sauce.  Finish with a drizzle of truffle oil, a sprinkle (or more) of delicious sheep’s milk Pecorino cheese and parsley.

 

 

 

 

Inspired By the English Countryside

My Trip to Highclere Castle

Since my very first trip to England back in the 80’s , I have been smitten with the English countryside.   The gardens of England are always in my dreams, and are the inspiration for my garden at our Ann Marie shop.   I have been to England several times since on business but imagine my delight when I won a trip to Highclere Castle, home of the filming of one of my favorite English shows, Downton Abbey.   The trip was sponsored by Heritage Lace, a maker a beautiful Downton Abbey inspired curtains and tablecloths.

Being able to make the trip with my good friend Jan, also an avid Downton Abbey fan, made it all the more special.   We started our tour with an all too brief stop at Oxford. A quick walk around, a great English Hand Pie from the market and we were off to Bampton Village in Oxfordshire where some of the Downton Abbey village scenes were shot.   The village is so quaint with lovely brick houses and window boxes filled with flowers still in bloom.  After a quick visit to the St Mary’s church where 2 weddings, a fair and a funeral had taken place on the series we were off to our last stop; the greatly anticipated main event of Highclere Castle.   As we approached the castle I was in awe of the intricate nature of the façade on the castle. Wandering through the castle I recalled the many scenes from the series and was again inspired by the country life of England.   Elegant but rustic, it brought visions of the history of the castle as I had read about. A real feeling of a home, though in grand style, of course.   I paid special attention to the lace window treatments and tablecloths as we wandered through.   I was excited to go home to market our lovely Downton Abbey Lace Curtains and tabletop wares to our avid customers who also love England.   The grand finale was our lovely High Tea in the carriage house on the grounds. Scones with jam and clotted cream, a lovely piece of raspberry filled sponge and as usual, the best English Tea. A perfect end to a lovely day.

On my arrival home I could not wait to share the experience with my husband and enjoy the pleasures of another English afternoon tea served in our new Coronation Meadow pottery from Burleigh of England.   The pottery is Inspired by HRH The Prince of Wales’s Coronation Meadows project, which aims to establish wildflower meadows across the UK. The “Coronation Meadows” pattern is a celebration of the British countryside. A perfect ending to a perfectly fine English experience.

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Coronation Meadows by Burleigh, England

 

Enjoy these favorite tea-time recipes that have just the right hint of lavender to transport you to the Gardens of Highclere.

Lemon-Lavender Shortbread

Servings: MAKES ABOUT 1 1/2 DOZEN COOKIES

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried lavender blossoms, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • In a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the chopped lavender and grated lemon zest. Beat in the butter at moderate speed. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Transfer the dough to a sheet of wax paper and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Form the dough into a 4-inch log and chill for at least 45 minutes longer.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Slice the shortbread dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and place the rounds on ungreased baking sheets. Freeze the rounds for 10 minutes.
  • Bake the shortbread for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Transfer the baked shortbread to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make Ahead

The cookie-dough log can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw slightly before slicing. The baked shortbread can be stored in an airtight container.

Lavender infused sugar

I love this infused sugar to sprinkle over fresh baked sugar cookies, in my morning tea, or incorporated into my favorite pound cake recipe. It keeps beautifully in an airtight container, and every time I open the lid, I get a waft of lavender essence.watch movie The Lost City of Z now

2 teaspoons fresh, chopped lavender leaves and flowers to 1 cup sugar. Stir the lavender into the sugar and store in an airtight container.

Cheers

Ann Marie