Many years ago in a cozy two story brick home in Brooklyn, New York - perfume was the aroma of yeast proofing and baking from scratch was far from being a novelty. The art of giving was purely genuine and so were my masters - grandma Filomena and my mother Eda. Their approach to cooking and baking was as natural as their ingredients - and their busy and nurturing hands were as warm as their hearts.
How We Began Our Journey...
Our backyard boasted an abundance of grapes, fig trees, string beans, lots of cucumbers and zucchini, parsley, basil, oregano and thyme. Roses and hydrangeas were grown not only for their beauty, but also to share with anyone who needed to smile. In fact their belief was that there was no better gift to give than the sharing of one's talents.
Embraced and nourished by these strong and amazing women was me, this shy and inquisitive little soul, who had a curiosity and desire to immerse herself in their passions. Barely reaching the counter height in the basement where most of the cooking and baking was done, I stood on a stepstool and pushed and pulled a piece of dough mimicking the rhythm of these two artisans. The creations were endless - crusty breads, pizza (no one made pizza like grandma - and still doesn't), fresh macaroni and ravioli nestling in beds of cornmeal, biscotti, cookies and pies all wholesome, fresh and old-world delicious.
As genuine as the creators, a celebration didn't mean excessive sugary toppings to camouflage the true taste and ingredients of the offering. Holiday baking was a treasured ritual, even grandpa Paolo and my father Frank joined in. Ahh...that is when those fragrances from the basement workshop heightened. For me, holiday time meant baking, cooking and sharing with pride.
I am now a mother, an artist, a cook, a gardener and an artisanal baker. My mentors have all passed on, but their legacy will live on forever in me and through the stories my offerings tell. Whether creating gardens that make even mother nature smile or mixing a wholesome batter for my customers, family and friends or decorating a basket for gift giving, always with that simple yet exquiste touch of nature, my offerings and services are sure to delight and convey that feeling of "coming home."
Ever since I can remember, art always stood in the forefront for me. Nature was always my subject. I majored in fine arts and minored in business and found myself working on Wall Street. Eventually came a time in my life - a decision crossroad - full-time motherhood or a full-time career. Being a naturalist and a nurturer, I chose motherhood. However, I yearned to share and express my artistic talents. Thus, in 2003, I opened a designer floral landscaping company, Francine's Touch of Nature.
My husband and I raised our three children with the same values and traditions that I was raised on. That same perfume of yeast and baked breads, biscotti, cookies and free-form fresh fruit pies swirled through the house. Our family still finds comfort in creating memories in the kitchen and every spring takes joy in tilling the soil and watching our own herbs and vegetables grow. This has always kept the spirit of that two-story brick home in Brooklyn alive.
My eldest daughter, Maria, has shown strong passion to embrace her heritage and roots through cooking, baking and creating. With college graduation came the challenge of choosing a career path. All signs were pointing toward growing and cultivating a business rooted in her upbringing and valued traditions.
Our mutual desire to share our artistic, imaginative and naturally hand-crafted offerings led to the culmination and emergence of this unique, elaborately simple, multi-faceted women-owned company, Flour, Nest & Vine Inc.