On the second day at our food photography retreat in the wonderful villa of La Quercia Estate outside of Florence, Italy, we woke up to clouds heavy with rain. In other words, perfect light for moody food photography! Veronica had prepared a day full of cooking classes in her studio kitchen, and she also invited us into her private home to browse through old treasures while sipping espresso and keeping her company as she baked a savory zucchini cake.
In early January, Tania & Maria from EaTravel reached out to me and asked if I wanted to come hang out with them + a bunch of talented food bloggers at a gorgeous villa in Tuscany. We stayed at La Quercia Estate, which an old, completely restored, villa near the village Impruneta, about 30 min by car from Florence. Veronica & Margherita, mother and daughter, runs the place. They kindly let us all stay there completely for free, while totally spoiling us with good food.
Missed my previous posts about this retreat?
Here you can read about day 1
And here you’ll find the step-by-step chocolate cake recipe that Veronica made for us
A high and narrow window let in plenty of side light into Veronica’s dining room. In the drawers and cupboards, we found everything from gold-plated crystal glasses to silver cutlery and lace napkins. The large mahogany dining table functioning as a creative playground for arranging still lives or simply shooting the treasures as is. Sometimes the random and messy makes the dreamiest of photographs.
We had no plan for this “prop session”. Other than passing the time and exploring this private part of the estate while the rain poured down and while Veronica was baking.
Carolina captured me while shooting props. Unwashed hair in a messy bun with a bit of lipstick is how I move through the world most days ;-)
Valentina came up with the brilliant idea to shoot the inside of the drawers, exposing what hidden treasures could be found there.
And there were napkins and table cloths to host an entire wedding party (or a food styling workshop ;-).
Veronica’s backyard. Looking out over the terraced vineyards.
This was probably my favorite corner of the house. Gorgeous old art books and little gems from who knows when.
Savory zucchini cake with cheese, pine nuts, poppy & sesame seeds.
Can’t let a precious photo moment like this one pass! I think Carolina was very eager to drink that espresso, but when your nails match the cups so perfectly you gotta wait for everyone to capture it first ;-)
Around midday we were ready for the cooking class of the day. On the menu were homemade sun-dried tomato gnocchi with artichokes, spinach salad with blueberries, cheese and vinaigrette and classic chocolate cake with raspberries. And the savory zucchini cake of course, which we ate while cooking so that we wouldn’t starve to death (shooting while cooking takes time folks! Hours upon hours. Totally worth it tho).
First, trimming. We only used the hearts for this recipe.
Drop them into a bowl of lemon water, to keep them fresh.
I really fell in love with this scene above, as it represents our visit at La Quercia Estate so well. This amazingly warm and sparkly woman dedicating her whole weekend to cooking the one delicious Italian dish after the other for us, on this old family working bench that carries so many years of kitchen stories. Only the best produce from the market, and a specialized tool for every task. I was so impressed by this respectful way of cooking, letting each ingredient shine and not over-complicating things.
Going on a food photography retreat like this one is truly a dream come true for me. I hope that I can go on retreats or workshops at least once or twice a year from now on, as it’s such an incredible boost of inspiration. You meet the most wonderful people and share ideas, skills and strategies with each other, while experiencing new places, eating amazing food and practicing photography like crazy. Like a conference, except way more jet set-y ;-)
The gnocchi making process was pure pleasure to shoot. Just look at that steam! Into the dough went pressed potato, flour, egg, sun-dried tomatoes & parmesan cheese. Probably some salt as well.
Tania & Maria (who organized this food photography retreat) sneaked out during the class to snap a rainy selfie together.
Look at these cuties! I’m so glad they invited me to join this retreat <3
Just before dinner was ready, the rain stopped and revealed the magical sunlight, right on time for the golden hour. Here’s Tania!
But before sitting down at the table, we still had a salad to prep. Spinach, blueberries, plain cheese & a balsamic vinaigrette. So simple yet one of the most delicious salads I’ve ever had!
Tania & Maria had created this beautiful table setting in calm green & mint tones.
After dinner Zaïra, Valentina, Carolina & I went out for a walk. After spending a whole day inside a steamy kitchen, it was such a relief to feel the damp post-rain air and capture the last rays of purple sunset. Above is Zaïra, who’s calm & kind energy made a serious impression on me.
The rest of the evening we just spend on the couch, editing photos and instagramming. Too exhausted to even talk to each other haha. Next time I’ll show you the photos from our day trip to Florence!
Until next time,
Disclaimer: I was invited to join this retreat and stay at La Quercia Estate free of charge (except for the plane tickets, which I paid for myself). I haven’t been paid to write about the estate, but I chose to do so anyway. All editorial choices and opinions are 100% my own :-)
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