Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holla Hallah!

by rosanna's eldest daughter, alessandra wollner

When people invite you to their home for dinner, don’t come to their doorstep empty handed.

My mother never told me this lesson in so many words, but she did raise me well. Countless times before we went over to someone’s house, I watched her wrap up a pair of taper candles, stop to pick up the prettiest bouquet from the market, select a bottle of wine before leaving the house, or present a host with a set of Rosanna mugs.

Fresh out of college, the prettiest bouquets are the ones I filch from someone else’s backyard. The bottles of wine are, more often than not, two buck Chuck. Because I live in California, I can’t avail myself of free Rosanna product from my mother’s Seattle warehouse, much to my chagrin.  

Besides the challenge to find cost effective gifts for my hosts, I want them to know how much I appreciate and value their hospitality. This is why I have started making bread.

I’ve discovered that bread is an ideal item to bring to dinner. Presenting your hosts with something homemade is a heartfelt way to say thank you. And the best part about bread is that it doesn’t disturb anyone’s menu planning. Bread is a food that is incredibly beautiful and tremendously comforting. There’s such variation to this food that you can almost always find a recipe to suit the occasion and will mean something to the people who are feeding you. Lately, I’ve been going to a lot of dinners celebrating the day of rest, and so I’m making and bringing along hallah, a Jewish egg-bread similar to brioche.

Not all of us have time to make bread. I didn’t either until just recently. Not only that, all manner of dough used to deeply intimidate me. Now, I’m working through that fear. Making bread works for me. It might not work for you, but who knows?

Maybe it will.

p.s. Thanks to Smitten Kitchen for this bomb hallah recipe!


Thanksgiving a time when we celebrate a variety of important things. To name a few:   harvest bounty, community, and being American. regardless of religion. Thanksgiving is also special because it is an adaptable holiday. It give us the opportunity think about our heritage as a country, all that’s good and what needs to be improved, as well as the heritage that is unique to our family. We are free to give thanks for what we have in whatever way we like.

For all these reasons, Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday to share, especially with foreigners. Inviting someone from another country to participate in this quintessential American tradition is to learn what the United States is all about. After all, the first Thanksgiving was multi-cultural—a moment celebrated by colonists from different places in Europe and Native Americans together.

It’s also true that the best way to learn something is to teach it. If you want to understand what the United States stands for, and think carefully about how it prompts us to be grateful, here’s your opportunity.

Here are some things to think about this Thanksgiving, whether you have a foreigner at your table or not:

-What does this country have that you couldn’t live without?
-What is your favorite aspect of “American life?”
-What about this country do you hope will never change?
-What makes you proud to be an American?

Wishing a very happy Thanksgiving to all.


Monday, November 22, 2010



Visa & MC accepted on purchases over $50
Cash is faster! We only have one credit card machine and the line gets backed up
Parking is on street or in the gravel lot across Holgate. We kindly ask that you do not park in the Goodwill parking lot.
Must be present to shop. Orders will not be accepted via phone or email.
Please, for safety reasons, do not bring small children.
No refunds or exchanges. Please check all items for damages and defects before leaving. We also ask that you make sure all sets are complete, we will not be able to issue a refund after the sale is final.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Thoughts on Thanksgiving: Part 2

In response to the question

What do you think is the most important thing to put on a Thanksgiving table?  

I have two words: 
Fresh food.

At Thanksgiving especially, I strive to make sure everything on the table is homemade and make a point of using only natural ingredients. No margarine, no cranberry sauce in a can, and no instant gravy. This meal is as much about the time, effort, and love it takes to prepare as it is about the actual eating of it.

Growing up, I remember my grandmother made every single Thanksgiving dish from scratch. If you don’t know where to start with from-scratch cooking, you don’t have to look much farther than two generations back. Refer to old family recipes from your grandparents’ generation, before ready-made, instant food became widely available. During that era, there was nothing but homemade.

A Thanksgiving made with fresh ingredients from nature instead of from a can make for a meal that has something special. The extra effort and mindful attention to detail set this dinner apart from the everyday meals. The long hours in the kitchen are something to take pride in and to cherish. Cooking, after all, is one of the most basic and intuitive expressions of love.

This Thanksgiving, I encourage everyone to make their holidays as fresh as you can —

Not organic,
Not green,
Not eco-friendly,

just fresh.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Only nine days until Thanksgiving, and counting.

Thanksgiving is an especially significant American holiday because every one celebrates it—regardless of religion. As most holidays do, Thanksgiving marks a moment when families come together. I have quite a lot to say about Thanksgiving and its significance, but what I’d really like is to hear from you. I want to use this blog as a place to start conversations, which are crucial components that help create community.

Ready? Here’s the question:

What do you think is the most important thing to put on a Thanksgiving table?  

Make your answers as personal or as widely applicable as you like. I'll post my answer at the end of the week. 

I'm excited to read your answers!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Warehouse Sale

* * *11/19 UPDATE* * * We are no longer having 2 sales. The new date is December 10-12. 

Rosanna wanted to be able to say THANK YOU for the continued support through the years. She will also be on hand to autograph Coming Home

Fri - 12/10 from 9a-5p (Rosanna appearance 9-5)
Sat - 12/11 from 9a-5p (Rosanna appearance 10-2)
Sun - 12/12 from 9a-5p (Rosanna appearance 10-2)

IT'S SALE TIME...but instead of 1 sale, we're having 2! Both sales will be held at our current location of 440 S Holgate St Seattle, WA 98134. Rosanna's warehouse is moving locations in January and we want to start fresh! Beyond collectible Rosanna tableware, Deruta and some slightly defective pieces, we'll have furniture (antique & office) available. For those that attend the Warehouse sale and spend $150 or more, you will receive an additional 10% off your purchase at the Moving sale (receipt required.) Hope to see you there!!!

Warehouse Sale

 December 4th & 5th from 9a-5p

Moving Sale

December 17th & 18th from 9a-5pm     


Visa & MC accepted on purchases over $50
Cash is faster! We only have one credit card machine and the line gets backed up
Parking is on street or in the gravel lot across Holgate. We kindly ask that you do not park in the Goodwill parking lot.
Must be present to shop. Orders will not be accepted via phone or email.
Please, for safety reasons, do not bring small children.
No refunds or exchanges. Please check all items for damages and defects before leaving.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Show Must Go On

As entertaining as it is to entertain, throwing big dinner parties can get rather expensive. We all know that keeping connection in your life is important. How to have people over but stay within your budget? Here's one possible solution: 

Last week I attended a birthday party that allowed the hosts to entertain on a low budget. The party was both low stress and highly creative.

First of all, the party was a potluck. Spreading out the cooking responsibilities among guests kept costs low and cleanup at a minimum. But the best part of the party was the main event—a reading of the 1940’s play Light Up The Sky by Moss Hart. The hosts assigned each guest a part ahead of time and sent a script.

This kind of party is a trade off. It is less expensive, but it does require more planning. But the planning is worth it. A play reading makes for a creative, unusual, and refreshing gathering. After a glass of wine, shy performers lose some timidity and those of us with frustrated inner actors (yes, that would be me) get the chance to flex our thespian muscles.

If you’re interested in throwing a dinner-theater dinner party, here are a few tips:

-Choose a play available online. That way you can email your guests the script and not worry about making photocopies
-Get your invitations out well in advance, so your actors have time to read their lines through and get comfortable with the play
-Pick a show with a clear era or theme. Encourage everyone to dress the part
-Make the event a potluck or a dessert party to take the cooking pressure off
-Pick a play with a large ensemble so that as many people as possible can participate. If there are too many parts, double up!


Monday, November 8, 2010

Reinventing Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a holiday that belongs to all Americans. There are certain hallmarks of the day—turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie. There is the pleasure of returning to the same meal each year.  But let’s be honest; the same food year in, year out can also get boring.

Consider reinventing, or rather, reinvigorating Thanksgiving this year. Doing something new doesn’t mean you must pore over the pages in design magazines. It doesn’t mean making radical departures from the foods your family knows and loves. After all, comfort is an essential and beautiful part of the Thanksgiving meal.

My idea is simple: refresh tradition by returning to tradition. 

Add diversity to your Thanksgiving meal by tapping in to your family’s culinary roots. Think of new/old ways to prepare classic Thanksgiving fare. For example, if your family is French, you can use the turkey innards to make a pate. If your family is Middle Eastern or North African, make a cous cous dish showcasing squash. A Hispanic family might prepare a dish with corn as the main attraction. A Chinese family could cook the turkey using the preparation used to make BBQ pork or Peking duck. This year, incorporate the spices and flavors of your childhood into your Thanksgiving meal to create a holiday that’s both novel and deeply familiar.

Because much of my family comes from Italy, we’ve added squash ravioli with brown butter and sage to our Thanksgiving menu. Unless you choose to make the ravioli yourself, this dish is an easy crowd-pleaser.

Squash (or Pumpkin!) Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Ingredients (serves 4)
1 package FRESH, not dried, squash or pumpkin ravioli
4 tbs salted butter
2 cloves garlic
7 large sage leaves
pinch of sea salt
¼ cup chopped hazelnuts (optional)

1.      Add salt and set water to boil for ravioli in a medium pot.
2.      Peel 2 cloves of garlic, smash to release flavor.
3.      Wash and de-stem sage leaves
4.      Chop hazelnuts coarsely. Set aside.
5.      To make the sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the garlic and sage. Cook until the sage is crispy and the butter has begun to turn brown. Add salt to taste. Remove the garlic and discard.  
6.      When the water begins to boil, add the ravioli. (Attention! Fresh pasta takes only 3-4 minutes to cook. Time accordingly.) Strain pasta in sink, in strainer.
7.      Arrange 6-8 ravioli on each plate. Drizzle with the butter sauce and sprinkle with hazelnuts. Serve immediately.

Local products are always best your best bet. However, if you can’t find squash ravioli near you, here are some vendors that sell this type of ravioli nationally and will ship:

FreshPasta.com- scroll down to the “Ravioli” section
Marx Foods


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Passing the Carving Knife

We have carved pumpkins as a family since my eldest daughter was a baby. We've carried this tradition with us through the years, the fresh smell of pumpkin heralding the true arrival of fall. As the years march on, the comfort of repeating a treasured tradition is one of the things I most look forward to. However, there comes a point when it's time to make a change to alter a tradition to fit a new moment in life. This year found a gaggle of 13 year-old girls sprawled across my front porch, hard at work scooping guts and carving pumpkins.

This is the last year my daughter Francesca will spend at the school she has attended since she was 5 years-old. This group of girls has grown up together. Next year they will scatter to attend various high schools throughout Seattle. Because this was their last Halloween together, I wanted to make this year especially special. I took extra care to decorate the house with squash, displays featuring Day of the Dead figurines and traditional Mexican sugar skulls, and as many candles as I could find room for. It wasn't a scary house; it was a magical Halloween house, with girls in their costumes flitting in and out all afternoon. 

My extra effort didn't go unnoticed. More trick-or-treaters rang our doorbell than I'd ever seen. Parent after parent complimented our decorations, telling me they and their children had been drawn in by the twinkling lights and the festive atmosphere. Tradition is a great unifier. When there is warmth, love, a sense of community, and an open invitation to join in, you can feel it.

Incorporating Francesca's friends into our family Halloween tradition was a great joy. Keep your traditions close to your heart. But also keep refreshing them. You never know who might come knocking at your door.

Happy (belated) Halloween,