Summer, Workshops



That’s right. I am announcing a workshop in Australia and I don’t know how I will manage to end the page without screaming too many times yeeeeeh-yhuuuuuu-whoooo-jabadabadoooooo while jumping up and down and throwing my passport towards the ceiling like a mad woman. You can imagine me this way, while I prepare some cakes with a vaguely aristocratic name, wondering if they can be valid as an “Australian recipe” since I twisted it by spreading in the house the very essence of Italy: espresso.
Before giving you the details of one of the most exciting projects for 2017 I want to tell you about the intensity life slaps us with, sometimes. But this is not a sad story, I promise.

How many times have I said “my eyes are tearing apart” this year – only my Mom knows, because she knows  more than anybody else how much time I have spent behind this pc from morning to night, while the seasons changed outside. I must say that I have never cared much about the nominations to the Saveur Awards. I have never considered them as one of my objectives nor as an important opportunity for my career, but only as a far away possibility for me. I started to believe in it only when someone persuaded me that I could also deserve a nomination somewhere between the Best New Voice or Best Photography categories.


I know that many of you supported me, I received many beautiful messages which once in a while I secretly re-read… I could never thank you enough for that.
The fact that I did not receive any nomination caused me a certain unexpected dejection, I cannot deny it. Constantly questioning myself is unavoidable for me, it is part of my evolving process.
The wave that overwhelmed me was like a powerful tide which led me into deep and dark water, where I was carried away by doubts which were greater than the ocean, and I felt as if I was slowly drowning. At the end I was driven back, a bit worn out like an old log which is carried ashore after floating for a long time and finally reaches a beautiful and soft, dry and warm earth.
I gave space to that warmth, letting the wonderful sun embrace me, knowing that it could eclipse any shadow, and I shared the joy of success. Even though it was not my success, it carried me away from my dangerous cold streams.
I had heard someone saying “I am happy as if it had happened to me” and I always thought that it was a typical motherly feeling, the proof of great unselfishness and love for someone else. I am not talking about sharing happiness but of the personal satisfaction for something beautiful that has happened to another human being. And then, finally, I understood.
I cannot say if that joy was the unintentional compensation for my disillusionment, but I know that it was real. A warm blow which carried me on comfortable shores I could hold on to. I felt happy for somebody else who had obtained what I had also fought for.




Giving space to a positive feeling instead of a negative one is not always easy, but I think that the more we become available to receiving “good” energy the more we can bring something good in our life. I think it is like a proportion: the more we expand our “bubble” of positive feelings, the more they will come back in the form of everything we need or desire.
Those who know me well are perfectly aware of how much faith I have in these invisible movements of energy which I sometimes invoke by saying: “Power of the Universe, please bring me …” and I always receive what I ask for.
I wish I could tell you how many times the Universe has helped me by sending me any possible or imaginable thing, but I am afraid you would not believe me, because sometimes it surprised me as well. It has always given me what I needed exactly when I asked for it. Umbrellas when it rained, mineral water, new shoes, train tickets, a bicycle… these are only little things compared to the very many opportunities I was given.
Opportunities must be created, you might say… that’s for sure, but only if we are ready to believe in them and to repay the Universe with the only valid currency of this system, that is, trust.
In this continuous and constant exchange, even people arrive on the doorway as gifts – the most beautiful ones. They come and go like sea-tides, leaving fresh footprints on the sand. Sometimes they violently burst in our life like a tsunami, uprooting us from the ground and carrying us away with them… Other times they step in delicately and silently like the frost.


Valentina and Anisa (look at their post!!!) arrived in my life in two completely different ways, but they both brought some fresh air (and new opportunities) I am very grateful for.
We all share a similar sensibility which makes us talk the same language and love the mysterious ways of “moody” and chiaroscuro photography. And we are all very happy to announce our workshop which will take place in Australia on April 28-30 2017 in the fascinating Bundara Farm, between the beautiful township of Berry and the stunning Seven Mile Beach just two hours from Sydney, and less than three hours’ drive from Canberra.
All details below. If after reading this wonderful program you don’t feel like yeeeh-yhuuuu-whoooo-jabadabadooing  and subscribing at once (reserve your spot here!)… you will still find the recipe for these cakes (below) which will make you jump from your chair. If it is not enough, have faith and the Universe will take care of you somehow… I promise!



A 2 and a half day chiaroscuro food photography, styling and cooking retreat held in Berry, NSW. Please go to this link for more information and to purchase tickets.

Retreat Teachers
Zaira Zarotti
Valentina Solfrini
Host: Anisa Sabet

The retreat is set at Bundarra Farm, a beautiful homestead nestled into the delightful village of Berry. The homestead is a beautiful large house with a communal kitchen and dining area where most of our classes will be held. The grounds are beautiful and we will have lots of opportunities (weather permitting) for outdoor dining. Berry is located approx. 2 hours from Sydney and Canberra.

Who Can Attend
This workshop is for beginner – intermediate photographers. If you’ve never picked up a camera, we will be going through camera settings and photography basics.
This retreat is perfect for those interested in food photography and who want to meet like-minded creatives. There are only 12 places available.

April 28 – 30 2017

Accommodation included is for April 28 and 29 2017, is on site, and is single beds or bunks in shared rooms. Accommodation is nice, immaculately clean but basic.

Join us for an intimate chiaroscuro food photography, styling and cooking retreat set in the picturesque and rustic Australian bush. We will cook, we will feast, we will laugh and learn.
Workshop sessions will be taught by photography creatives, Zaira Zarotti of A Freaky Table and Valentina Hortus of Hortus Cuisine. Both have mastered the beautiful art of story telling and moody photography.

Retreat highlights include

Photography basics
Styling process
Chiaroscuro photography
Cake making class
Forage walk
Lightroom demonstration & preset building
Business and Marketing class
Special barnyard dinner
Autumn cocktail class


Friday 28 April

Welcome and housekeeping
Autumn cocktail class
Session 1 – Photography Basics
Session 2 – Styling and photography – cocktails and fruit
Long table dinner

Saturday 29 April

Session 3 – Cake making, styling and photography – ingredients
Picnic lunch and foraging walk
Session 4 – Chiaroscuro styling and photography – cake and florals
Afternoon tea
Session 5 – Editing and preset building
Barnyard dinner

 Sunday 30 April

Session 6 – Business, marketing and social media
Farewell morning tea

(*Note this programme is subject to change.)


There are only 12 tickets for this workshop available. Be sure to get in quick to avoid missing out on this once in a lifetime retreat.


Two nights shared accommodation on site
Beautiful cottage farmhouse location for the retreat period
All lessons and discussions
Welcome snacks and drinks
Two cooking sessions (cake making and fresh egg pasta)
Two Dinners
One picnic lunch
Two breakfasts
Two morning teas
One afternoon tea
Carefully curated set of gifts
Snacks during the retreat
Some wine/cocktails with meals

Not included

Transport to and from Berry
Extra alcohol

The workshop commences 12pm Friday 28 April and finishes 12pm Sunday 30 April. Please contact for more details.

The all-inclusive cost for the retreat is AUD $1500. This includes 2-nights shared-room accommodation in Berry for April 28 and 29 2017| AUD$500 deposit will be required on booking to hold your place, the balance will be invoiced two months before the workshop.  Please go to this link for more information and to purchase tickets.



Cuisine: Australian
(Makes 10-12 Lamingtons)
  • 100 g butter, room temperature + 1 little piece to greese the mold (20cm x 26cm x 4cm)
  • 120 g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 g flour
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 italian cups of espresso (about 80 - 100 ml)
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 150 g mascarpone, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 3 tsp instant espresso coffee powder
  • 3 tsp hot water
  • 100 g good quality dark chocolate
  • 150 ml espresso (a moka for 3 italian cups)
  • 5 large handfuls shredded coconut
(*For the sponge)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180˚C/350˚F.
  2. Grease the mold and set aside.
  3. Make espresso (ideally using a moka) and allow it to cool.
  4. Cream butter and sugar together using an electric hand whisk until really light, thick and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time and beat well until incorporated.
  5. Add in the sifted flour, cocoa and baking powder. And pour in, a little bit at a time, the espresso until all the ingredients are well mixed in a smooth and frothy cream.
  6. Pour the mixture in the mold leveling it with a spatula and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the centre clean. Allow it to cool entirely.
(*For the filling)
  1. Combine coffee instant powder and hot water in a cup, allow to cool.
  2. Cream mascarpone and icing sugar together using an electric hand whisk until really thick and fluffy, add the coffee and beat well until incorporated.
  3. Place the cream in the fridge for 10 minutes while you prepare the coating.
(*For the coating)
  1. Make espresso, again and ideally using a moka and allow it to cool a little bit.
  2. Crush the chocolate and melt it in a water bath or in the microwave.
  3. Add espresso to the melted chocolate, a little bit at a time, stirring continuously until you have a fluid cream that will coat a spoon. Place it on the water bath pot to keep it slightly warm and fluid.
  4. Place coconut into a large mixing bowl
  1. Remove the sponge from the mold and carefully cut into perfect little squares (about 20-24 parts to obtain 10-12 Lamingtons).
  2. Spread the mascarpone coffee cream over the top of one of the sponge rectangles and sandwich the second on top.
  3. Very carefully dip each "sandwich" in the chocolate espresso coating and then roll in the shredded coconut. Allow to cool on a cake rack.
  4. Enjoy!




















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  • Avatar
    Reply Amandine L'hyver 02/09/2016 at 0:16

    You have such a beautiful way to express your feelings, i wish i could have the same talent ! These cakes looks delicious and your photography are stunning as always … I’m an huge fan of your work ! 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply Ilaria Guidi (Campi di fragole per sempre) 02/09/2016 at 7:49

    Complimenti di cuore Zaira!! Meritate tutto il successo del mondo! 🙂 Immagino già che spettacolo di corso sarà!
    Queste foto sono stupende! Piene di poesia, luce eccezionale…insomma..bravissima come sempre 🙂 e quanto sono buoni questi dolcetti??!!!
    Un bacio!

  • Avatar
    Reply mrs. cugliani 02/09/2016 at 19:39

    Sometimes when I see who wins these blog awards, it really makes me wonder! You are blessed with many talents and are admired, appreciated and loved by lots and lots of good people. Right there, I would say you have deservedly earned great accolades. Continue doing what you’re doing, trusting and believing in the power of the Universe. It works. And now I must offer you an embarrassing apology. You sent me a link through DM when I inquired about a post of yours on Instagram. I only recently discovered your message (thanks to my sister!) because I am somewhat clueless when it comes to anything even remotely technical. Thank you for your kindness in replying. I’ll DM you to say thanks as soon as I can figure out how!

  • Avatar
    Reply Claudia | The Brick Kitchen 07/09/2016 at 2:59

    Zaria! Your workshop sounds amazing – I wish I could make it, I’m such a fan of your (and Anitas, and Valentina’s) dark and moody photography style, as well as the way you really tell a story with the set-up and evolution of your photos. I’m from where lamingtons originate and I definitely approve of the addition of espresso – I can’t help but add coffee to almost anything chocolate! x

  • Avatar
    Reply Natalia 13/12/2016 at 9:14

    The pics are breathtaking <3

    • Zaira Zarotti
      Reply Zaira Zarotti 13/12/2016 at 16:57

      Thank you so much Natalia! Greetings from Venice xxx

  • Avatar
    Reply Lili @ Travelling oven 19/01/2017 at 10:28

    These photos are so beautiful I can watch them over and over again! How exciting, hosting a workshop in Australia, I’m sure it will be so amazing and can’t wait to see the photos! <3

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