Travel

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

 

 

Who is Ann Marie?

Little Ann Marie RD2

Taking a cue from that classic film “You’ve Got Mail”, I would like to start this letter as if we are in the middle of a conversation. As though we were sitting at a corner table together, sipping foam from the top of perfectly poured lattes, and talking about the intricacies of our lives.

The thing is, I’d like to tell you a bit more about the Ann Marie who is behind Ann Marie’s. That is, me. The girl whose vivacious Italian family and love for beautiful shapes and colors grew into a three decade romance with all things European and a little shop in the deep woods of Wisconsin.

My adoration for shapes and colors and textures began when I was a young girl playing with rows of canning jars in my grandmother’s pantry. Canning was a serious business in our family, and the light shining through green and blue hued glass always brought me into a sort of reverie. I used to imagine that pantry was my own little shop with shelf after shelf attracting the attention of lovely ladies from far away places. This sort of day dreaming only seemed to last as long as it took for my older brother to discover my haven, pull my hair, and tease me for dawdling. The vision never truly faded.  My first European experience then set the tone for the rest of my life.film The Fate of the Furious 2017 online streaming

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I can only describe those few weeks in Scotland as the first time I have ever truly connected with the warm feelings from my childhood.  Kathryn, a friend from college, and I would wake each morning and walk across cobblestone streets and bridges, experiencing all the incredible spaces Edinburgh had to offer. Our trips to the many tea rooms with our Scottish friend Christine were an absolute dream.  We spent our days exploring every inch of the city we could afford to get to, drinking loose leaf tea out of porcelain teacups and scones off of beautiful cake trays. There’s nothing in the world better than a perfectly steeped tea poured from a fine teapot, except perhaps the smooth feel of fine china on your lips. We would sit and watch the Edinburgh castle light up every night, take the train up to the highlands and the Isle of Skye, and find the absolute best sweaters and water color paintings and, of course, more tea, and pottery.

My first visit to Europe left a lasting impression on my senses. I knew it wouldn’t be my last.

It wasn’t long after being back amongst the long green shadows, the fragrance of pine, and the ghostly white of birch trees of Wisconsin that my mind was transported back to my Scottish days, and the wonderful conversations over tea. I decided then to recreate the warmth of that European adventure in the woods of Wisconsin. I decided then to create, “Ann Marie’s”.

The stores Ann Marie’s began in the late 1980’s as a tiny coffee and tea house in a garden in Minocqua, Wisconsin, run by that same lively, curly-headed italian, now a young woman, with a lot of determination. Ann Marie’s takes me back to the cobblestone streets of Europe in search of new items to bring back to my shop – French linens, Irish pottery, Dutch toys, or Scottish capes, among other things. I have had ridiculous adventures, found the loveliest little places, made the very best of friends, and had a lot of luck. Today, Ann Marie’s has grown to two beautiful locations. Our original Garden Shop with lush outside spaces filled with flowers and aromatic herbs, a bounty of fresh organic vegetables in the kitchen, tables laden with hand-painted European pottery from such exquist, and huge vases of fragrant blooms throughout. And our new Chalet Shop – built in the traditional style of a Swiss Chalet – filled with amazing natural light and the very best of the things I’ve found during my travels. Our loyal customers come back each year updating us of their own personal adventures in Europe and about, sharing their amazing finds, and enjoying all the things we’ve added into our Ann Marie’s collection. Throughout the years we’ve cultivated a keen eye for exceptional European pottery, developed the very best European style coffee, imported beautifully blended teas, and curated extensive collections from the finest brands including Emma Bridgewater Pottery, Nicholas Mosse and Burleigh. In the last decade, we have taken the uniquely intimate experience of Ann Marie’s stores nationwide through our website making our products available to our customers worldwide via our online shop. So there you have it. A glimpse into the tenacious and wonderful beginning of my dear little shop in Northern Wisconsin. Through these letters, I hope we can continue to share our uniquely adventurous lives together. Continuing on the journey.sinopsis film

Your Friend,

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Ann Marie

 

A Magical Irish Afternoon – Love of Nature and Pottery

 

After spending a magical morning enjoying Kilfane Glen, we continued our tour with an afternoon visit to the old mill which houses the Nicholas Mosse Pottery factory. I noted that the same thoughtfulness and love of nature Nicholas and Susan Mosse expressed through their gardens at Kilfane Glen are also in evidence at the pottery works. Peaceful themes of flowers and natural beauty are woven into both ventures and influence every aspect of their work.

Nick is passionate about working with clay and has developed his own special clay recipe which he uses to make every piece Nicholas Mosse pottery. Susan’s talents show in her lovely designs, which are hand cut into sponges used to decorate the pottery. Together, Nick and Susan have created a unique line of pottery that reflects the beauty of Irish county life and is sought out by pottery collectors around the world.

Each piece of Nicholas Mosse pottery is lovingly made by hand, requiring over 20 steps from start to finish before it can be shipped to us at Ann Marie’s. Throughout the process, Nick and Susan make every effort to use local resources  to stay in harmony with nature. For example, the river which flows behind the pottery works provides the electricity needed to fire the kilns. Their work is truly a reflection of their passions, values and lives. No wonder each piece of Nicholas Mosse pottery is treasured by our customers.

Autumn Memories of Grandma’s Sweet Red Peppers

As the autumn sunlight slants at a slightly sharper angle and the air takes on a clear, crisp scent, I surrender to the urge to make delicious comfort foods that warm the soul. Cooking comfort food always brings precious memories back to me.

One of my happiest autumn memories is of my Italian Grandma’s amazing sweet red peppers. I think Grandma must have brought the seeds from Italy in her pocket, because her red peppers had such an intense sweet, rich flavor. After Grandma finished picking the peppers in her farm’s kitchen garden, she would sit at her rustic kitchen table where she would string the peppers into beautiful red garlands. When every pepper was neatly strung, she’d hang the garlands behind her old wood stove so they’d dry and be ready to use in her delicious meals all winter long. Grandma’s garlands were both a thing of beauty and a symbol of all the delicious comfort foods to come during the chilly months ahead.

Harvesting red peppers and making garlands is still an autumn tradition on family farms across Italy. Lovely red garlands of peppers and cherry tomatoes can been seen hanging in every Italian kitchen. (Fortunately, Italian city dwellers can buy pepper garlands at their local farmers’ markets.) Every time I see a bright red garland, I think of my wonderful Grandma and recall the amazing flavor of her pasta sauce flavored with her sweet red peppers.L’ora legale live streaming film

Perfect comfort food.

A Treasure Hunt in Rome

I remember the day distinctly. A friend and I were wandering through the ancient alleyways of Rome’s old Trastevere district when we happened upon a tiny, old shop. Our eager smiles faded when we realized the shop was closed. Even in busy Rome, most shops are closed all afternoon so Italians can enjoy a relaxing meal and a nap before returning to work.

The shop was very dark inside. We glued our our faces against the shop windows in an effort to peer past the reflection and glimpse the enchanting merchandise inside. I gasped when I saw the gorgeous Italian linens behind the glass. We pointed and whispered to each other, “Look at the linens on that shelf…and stacked on that table!”  Well, there was nothing to do but jot down the name of the alley and hope we could find the shop again.

The next day was our last in Rome. We decided we simply HAD to find that shop before we left the Eternal City. Of course, this was not going to prove easy. The alley was too tiny to be included on our street map, and all the alleys started to look the same as we tried one after another. But with the help of a strong espresso, we persevered and finally found our shop!

The gentle shop owner welcomed us inside and assisted us as we explored her vast selection of gorgeous Italian linens. It was amazing. The beautiful colors of the Umbrian landscape and sky were woven into such elegant Italian designs. The rich woven linen had such depth. When I held the fabric in my hand, it seemed to reflect the light and display its own natural iridescence. After much fun deliberation, we finally made our selections and bid the kind senora “Arrivederci!”

Yes, it was love at first sight. The timeless linens of Tessitura Pardi, beautifully loomed in the province of Umbria, were destined to come home with me to Ann Marie’s.

A Special Visit to William Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage

Driving north toward along the eastern shore of magical Lake Windermere, we pull over to see one of the Lake District’s most beautiful villages, Grasmere. Good fortune is smiling today. As we pass over the threshold of poet William Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage, we are greeted by a young man who clearly loves Wordsworth and can hardly wait to share the good news: we have arrived at Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage on a very special day. Indeed, it is not only National Poetry Day in England, but also the 210th wedding anniversary of Wordsworth and his dear wife Mary. And Dove Cottage was the first home they shared together.

Our young docent leads us from room to room, explaining how their daily lives were lived. The rooms are small, the ceilings impossibly low, and the stairs to the second storey uneven and steep. Within this charming cottage filled with Wordsworth’s letters and pens, England’s beloved Poet Laureate hosted many meetings with fellow writers Southey and Coleridge.streaming film Nocturnal Animals

At the top of the stairway, from a tiny room with a simple desk and small window, I can see why William so loved the Lake District and why he felt its beauty spoke to him through poetry. Our gentle docent reads the lines written by William to express his love for Mary on a previous anniversary. Such beautiful words. From the window, I watch the rich autumn colors, dark heather-covered hills and mists rising off Lake Windermere. William launched England’s Romantic period from this very spot, looking out at this same beautiful but ever-changing view.

The Charms of England’s Lake District

After visiting England’s historic potteries in Stoke-on-Trent, we travel north by train to seek inspiration in England’s famous Lake District National Park. We arrive on a dark and stormy evening, in the middle of a chilly drenching rain. But when we awaken at our lovely B&B the next morning, the skies are clear, and we head off to explore. Pure, poetic beauty greets us around every curve in the road — ancient oak forests, lush fern-covered glens, clear blue lakes, and country pastures which are a carpet of the most amazing emerald green. No wonder the Lake District has been home to so many of England’s most famous writers and poets. Inspiration is absolutely everywhere! Continue Reading ➢

First Stop Switzerland

Greetings from the road. Our first adventure stop was Zurich. We landed and took the train via Lausanne to Vivey where we’re visiting my husband’s Swiss family. Before boarding the train, we had to stop and buy our favorite snack for the trip: Swiss pretzel sandwiches.

 

One of Switzerland’s main languages is French, so I feel totally immersed in French sensibilities without actually being in France. However, from my brother-in-law’s window I can see France across Lake Geneva. The lights of Evian (you know the water!) can be seen on clear evenings.download movie Madraza

I’m not sure if other retailers find this true, but without the inspiration of travel and family, I don’t think I could bring such lovely things to my customers. Just viewing the landscape of Switzerland through the train window gives me a fresh perspective and rejuvinates my mind and soul.

 

 

Off to Find Treasures

This weekend, I’m on a short jaunt to New York City to meet with several of my European vendors who daringly take a trip to New York now and then. One of my favorite parts of the trip is meeting with the artists from Deruta. Their pottery is oh-so-special. I hope to bring home a few treasures for our summer visitors and, of course, for our online visitors as well. Be sure to post some of your favorite European finds. I plan to have a few surprises for you, too.