More than ten years after being introduced to the simple but elegant food style of Ina Garten, a/k/a The Barefoot Contessa, I got to meet her today at the Sur la Table in Rice Village. It’s the same place I got to meet Giada de Laurentiis twice before (including in April of this year), and they know what they’re doing when a celebrity chef comes to visit.
It was a pretty homogeneous crowd, about 2/3 women, 1/3 men. When you’re in line to do something like that, you’re among friends. Mostly. I thought I was going to finish reading my first John Grisham novel, The Partner, but not until later. (It’s an awesome book, BTW; someone gave it to me on Saturday.)
I mentioned to Susan, the lady in front of me, that I went to a book signing with Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, on 11/2. My goodness, the look I got! Susan turned up her nose and let me know that she does NOT like Ree or her show, or her cookbooks. So I was exactly right, at least in this case, when I told Ree’s driver that Ree isn’t a River Oaks/Galleria kind of celebrity. Conservative type cooking shows aren’t popular in the fancier part of Houston. A cooking show about a adorable happily married couple, with their own four children, live on a ranch, home school their kids and produce cattle that eventually become their Tartare and Steak au Poivre. But in the ‘burbs, like the Pearland Sam’s Club, Ree gets more appreciation. Nevermind that she was an LA gal for many years.
Ok, back to Ina Garten. She looks just like she does on TV. Very nice lady, pretty, too, and she does have freckles.
As usual, the Sur La Table staff was serving up bites made from recipes in the new book, and I managed to get five bite sized nibbles of the Chocolate Chunk Blondies (page 205) Also tried the Couscous with Peas & Mint, which surprises you with the mint. Being a recently converted fan to hummus (not so much lemon that it screams at you), I enjoyed the sample of the Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas (page 42), which may show up on Thanksgiving, too. It’s really good, but it’s not *exactly* like hummus.
I should have left home earlier, but I got as much chance as anyone to meet Ina, and they were moving us pretty fast. Maybe it’s the East Hampton time thing, but Ina arrived an hour early and Sur la Table started immediately. No questions, just “Hi, I’m Amy,” she signed her new book Foolproof, and you moved on. There were a LOT of people there! I did manage to tell her that I can roast a turkey because of her books and advice. (More in my turkey post, coming soon.)
I have all of Ina’s books, but only brought one other to be autographed, the first one. (More would have been freight hauling!) However, one of Ina’s assistants had signed bookplates and handed me a few for the others, because she was only had time to sign Foolproof. I thanked her and moved on so the gentlemen behind me could have their chance.
The pictures of me (hint: red hair) were actually taken by a Sur la Table employee, who was nicely doing them for everyone. Admittedly, I look bad in one or two of them, mostly because of the bag I was carrying–it pushed the shirt forward and made me look. . .oh, nevermind.
I got to meet The Barefoot Contessa!!!
I’ve already decided that I will be making Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes, from Barefoot Contessa At Home, (page 144) partly because of the vegetarians that will be in attendance, but mostly because it’s REALLY good. I’m also considering the “Accidental Turkey” recipe from Foolproof, because it looks really easy. And maybe, just maybe. . .I’ll show up with two more Apple Crostatas from Barefoot Contessa Parties! I brought those to a birthday party once at the request of the honoree, and one guest told me, “Don’t tell my wife–I ate five pieces!” It’s that good.
Now that it’s a bit chilly, I may make a big pot of BC Chicken Chili from Parties,, which is delicious but isn’t the same as the “chili” you’re used to, and more of the lentil stuff for me. I MUST try that new Chicken with Wild Mushrooms recipe from Foolproof, and maybe roast sausages with grapes, too. I MUST make the new Chocolate Cassis Cake for Christmas, and some of the new Chocolate Chunk Blondies for any special activity I can find. (READ: excuse.)
Many thanks to Sur la Table in River Oaks for having yet another great celebrity chef come to Houston and visit with the peeps. It’s greatly appreciated, and we await the next personality we can’t wait to meet. (Pictures are here.)