Ciao Down: Italian cooking class, a new food blog and beautiful home tour…

Here’s a little story about a fabulous friend I met when setting up shop at the Queen of Hearts years ago. We hit it off instantly and have become forever friends, partners-in-crime, day trippers, vintage shop-a-holics, Pinterest addicts – you name it – we’re into it.
One of Lisa’s dynamic displays at the Queen of Hearts

It all started when I passed her booth at the Queen and bells and harps started going off. Say whaaaat? Who is this woman?!
All of these gorgeous things, displayed perfectly, I wanted it all! Then I met her sweet self, heard her story, Art major, lived in Italy, met her husband there, speaks fluent Italian, beautiful family, great style, clothing line, mega talented…I’m like geez woman, its a good thing we’re friends cause you’d be real easy to hate (laughing hysterically).
I’m first in line the day she ever tires of those shutters in the perfect patina blue. LOVE.
The first time she had me to her house it was everything I could do not to GAWK. We’d just met and I kept thinking quit staring and wanting to touch everything Jen. Truly a feast for the eyes.
A close up of her fabulouse coffee table. The table top is Italian travartine, with antique andiron bases from the Arezzo antique market

Note to self: add design book to wish list.
Then she throws this amazing birthday bash for her and her entire family (they all have June birthdays-how fun!) which she caters herself. I try these DELICIOUS thin crispy triangular sandwiches, all with a variety of different stuffing’s and have. not. stopped. thinking. of. them. since! Precisely why I am sharing them with you all today, compliments of Lisa and the wonderful cooking class she curated for us one lovely afternoon.
Our lovely instructor, adorned in her Grandmother’s kick a@@ vintage necklace.
First you will need some pizza dough that you can find in the produce section of your supermarket (that was easy) and let it set for one to three hours. This is key.

Then roll it out and press it down THIN with your fingers so it looks like this. Give it a couple of good pokes with a fork then drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, whatever you wish. Today we added Lisa’s new favorite, the lemon pepper from Whole Foods.

Bake it in the oven at 450 degrees on a stone or round perforated pan for 15 to 20 minutes and/or golden brown.

Once cool, carefully slice in half with big sharp knife like so.

Then the fun begins. In class we stuffed one with Alouette garlic and herb spreadable cheese, prosciutto and arugula then topped it off with another quick drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper.

Our second was stuffed with fresh mozzarella, tomato and pesto and again drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Mama Mia they were so good!!

Lunch is served!

She served them sliced like pizza pie here, however, cuts them up into bite sized triangles for parties. These were just two combos Lisa put together for us today but really the sky is the limit. Here are a few others to get your taste buds fired up…

-prosciutto crudo, alouette, rucola (arugula)
-fresh mozzarella, tomato, pesto
grilled veggies (any combo of eggplant, zucchini, peppers, red onions, yellow squash), pesto, mozzarella
olive tapenade, mozzarella
goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil (and pesto if desired)
smoked salmon, butter, fresh thyme, fresh lemon rind, fresh pepper
-hummus, rucola, grilled veggies
-rosemary ham (costco), brie, field greens
-bresaola (cured Italian beef), rucola, goat cheese (or alouette or herbed cream cheese)
-Italian oil packed tuna (only at Trader Joes), tomatoes, field greens, slivered onion, olive oil, lemon splash
-Genova salami, alouette herb cheese

No Italian cooking class is complete without a little gelato and espresso! Yes, even her espresso pot is vintage and darling.

Before we tour more of Lisa’s gorgeous and creatively styled home, I wanted to share with you a wonderful cooking blog another awesome Italian friend of mine recently started.

The Philosophical Cook is a tantalizing taste bud extravaganza and don’t forget the wine! If you don’t like to cook, at the very least his quotes will make you smile. A forever friend of my husband and I, this guy can do no wrong in my eyes. Be sure to give him a look and make a fun friend in the process. xoxo

(I’m getting hungry).

Back to the tour and more about Lisa. She too is an interior designer and has not one, not two but three fabulous antique stalls at the Queen of Hearts in Alpharetta. She scours the Atlanta skyline and countryside for unique, one-of-a-kind finds with fervor and enthusiasm. Bam, bam, bam, her truck is full and we are all the lucky recipients.
One of my favorite vignettes from last summer.

I’m still kicking myself I let this trunk get away. Torture. Aren’t the stripes she painted adorable? Great color combo.

I wasn’t letting the Paris map get away. I love it in my home office. Can you say sucker for anything Paris? Well we’re all in good company then!

A beautiful vignette with an iron daybed center stage in her living room. You can see all that wonderful Italian influence!

A close up of one of Lisa’s pillow creations (yes she can sew too!) adorned with fabric and trim via Florence, Italy topped off with a vintage button. She seriously waves a wand.

The demi lamp shade is Fortuny, handmade in Venice by the 2 sisters, Angela e Rosa Greco. A favorite blog, Velvet & Linen, showcased them here.

Lisa’s gorgeous dining room and beautiful arrangement of mirrors in the backdrop.

I adore this old window frame she converted to a mirror!

Check out this precious folk art painted trunk. This holds a special place in my heart as Mom went through a phase where she loved to paint in the folk art style. I can’t wait to get back home and dig out pictures of her work to show you here.
Another precious vignette. Would you ever think to put that all together? So talented.
Gorgeous gallery wall in their home office.
A darling vintage oil painting set inside the bookshelves she painted a lovely shade of blue to accent.

Another one of Lisa’s amazing talents is constructing custom lamps like the one here from an old urn. No question she has inspired me to wire just about anything around my house. More to come on that.

A shot of my darling and fun classmates and instructor at the end of our wonderful class. Good times for sure. Honestly, this cooking lesson has totally opened my eyes to Italian cuisine! In fact, I would love to take some more cooking classes in the future. I know there are some fantastic websites out there like where you can find local cookery classes so I think I am going to have to do some research. I cannot wait to get back in the kitchen really soon! Anyway, I can’t wait to hear what you end of stuffing your crispy sandwiches with and if you’d like to keep up with Lisa and her vintage finds, follow her on facebook here or Pinterest here.

Happy Birthday darling girl! To life!


  1. Jen- This is the best birthday gift ever. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for making me shine in your bright light. You have always been, and will forever be, a grand inspiration to me: not only in design, but in life, love and friendship. With admiration, gratitude, and love, your friend, Lisa

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