Monday, July 11, 2011

Barefoot Contessa

Yesterday was the perfect Hamptons day! I woke at 6:30am, took my children to the beach from 8:30 until 10:15, from 11 until 12:15 I hung with (wink, wink) the Barefoot Contessa and went wakeboarding with my family and friends from 1pm until dinner. That's "Hamptons" happiness to me!
Nothing quite says home like amazing aromas from the kitchen. The Barefoot Contess gives us the tools to create a home where good food is always being served. She has sold more than ten million of her seven cookbooks.
East Hampton's Guild Hall is a treasure for diverse cultural experiences. Yesterday the Guild Hall hosted Ina Garten who chatted with Stephen Drucker in a session called Conversations with Culinary Celebrities. The dynamic duo captivated a sold out crowd before Ina signed books.
Did you know this about the illustrious Barefoot Contessa?
She was born in Brooklyn, but grew up in a very modern home in Connecticut. Her father was a doctor and her mother a cook that never used butter or salt in her cooking! Stephen said to her "you cook with salt, butter and cream" yet they are right up there with "smoking!" You aren't backing down...why? Ina said she believes in cooking with real, non-processed food. I feel the same way. You too?
Am I the only one who did not know this? Ina worked in DC for the White House dealing with nuclear energy policy. At night she loved to cook wonderful meals. In 1978 she saw an ad for a specialty shop that was for sale in Westhampton, New York. She and her husband, Jeffrey, took a ride to the Hamptons to look at the shop. She made a low bid offer thinking it would give her time to think about this career change she was contemplating. The very next morning the woman who owned the Barefoot Contessa specialty shop called to tell her that she accepted her offer! That is how she got started and that is how she became known as the Barefoot Contessa. I always just assumed that she gave herself that name! Fascinating, right?

Ina Garten is not a trained chef, she is self taught. Her cookbooks offer using ingredients that are easy to buy and she writes so that one can hopefully duplicate her dishes. Perhaps that is why so many relate to her?
She believes in using really good ingredients, fresh food and doing as little with it to make it yummy.

She offers this advice to anyone wanting to entertain. Get pass the idea that everything needs to be hot, that idea takes too much time and can result in a frazzled hostess. Serve one hot dish straight from the oven/grill, one warm dish and one cold dish. Also, when it comes to appetizers do only three and again, keep it simple otherwise you will spend as much time making them as you do the dinner. Ina likes to keep a dish of cashews, a bowl of potato chips that are store bought, but super delicious and some salami for guests to nosh one before dinner. She is also a fan of making a good dish the day before, allowing the flavors to mingle and then serving the next day.
When entertaining she loves to keep an intimate setting with six people making for the perfect dinner party.

If you are lucky enough to ever entertain Ina you'll want to omit cilantro from the dish, as she isn't a fan at all. She believes it over powers dishes. (Hmmm. I love cilantro.) Her cocktail of choice is a whiskey sour. Stephen asked what someone should cook for her if she was going to be a guest in their home! She responded with meatloaf or any of the recipes from her book...they are what she loves! An ice cream favorite of hers is vanilla!

Ina measures everything when cooking. I found that to be interesting, as I rarely measure whats going into a dish. Perhaps that is why it is hard for me to give out recipes. I add a dash of this, a pinch of that and whip it all together...and this is how I write down my homemade recipes! How do you cook? Ina or Hamptontoes style?
Since bloggers and blog followers are savvy technology individuals, you'll be happy to hear that she is working on an App!

She uses kosher salt in baking and cooking and sea salt to finish a dish before serving. Have you always wondered which one to use when?

Her Friday night staple dish is usually roast chicken. She loves her husband to walk through the door after a long work week and smell a good chicken roasting in the oven. I love that she creates traditions with her cooking.

Consumer Reports awarded her best brownie recipe in America! Stephen Drucker mentioned the article said to cut small pieces or one could over indulge. Ina, with good humor replied one should cut whatever size brownie they would like to eat!

Her favorite comfort food is good 'ole chocolate chip cookies!

You may be wondering why she no longer writes her column for House Beautiful. She told us that she used to love going to the farm stands in the Hamptons alone. It was fun for her. At one point she was in the car with a camera crew on their way to a local farm stand and she realized that it distracted from her happiness. Good for us, she writes cookbooks!

Stephen Drucker told Ina that she is the most discplined business woman he knowns. He admires how she maintains boundaries between her career and her personal life. She is known to say "no" to many opportunities that come her way, as they distract from the core of who she is and what she wants. To that, I will toast!

I think Ina is super impressive, she is a woman who followed her dreams. She walked away from a high profile career and ventured into unknown territory to follow her dreams. Kudos to you Ina and thanks for spending an hour and fifteen minutes with me yesterday (wink!)

Ina's books are amazing, not just the recipes but the tips in the back of the books. Her At Home book has an entire section about visiting the Hamptons, where she resides full time. Ina's How Easy Is That book offers an entire section with sixty eight tips for the kitchen, her In Paris books gives insider tips on where to dine...invaluable resources. I'm studying the books and not just for the recipes!

Do you know your way around the kitchen? Do you have a favorite Barefoot Contessa recipe? What did you learn about Ina?


suburban prep said...

I think I have all her books. There are so many great recipes that she has complied in each of the books. I do not think that I have ever made something from her books and it not turn out well.

H.G. The Countess said...

How fun. Love Ina, watching her now. I love every recipe of hers I've ever tried!

Chic Coastal Living said...

I love her and I love her story! She has been so blessed! Thanks for sharing this! I'm hoping to visit the Hamptons for a day this summer!

Kathysue said...

I love love Ina, I record her show and watch it when I have leisure time to absorb all that she says and does. I love her beef Bourguignon recipe, it is wonderful. I always reference her recipes on line, although I do have a couple of her cookbooks,Homestyle and Parties. I love her soft spoken manner and he casual way of entertaining. She makes it look so simple to do, and yet it always looks as if you have gone to a lot of trouble. I loved her old kitchen,but can appreciate the efficiency of the new cooking barn she has created. What a fun day you had, you are one lucky girl, xo Kathysue

Stevie said...

I adore Ina Garten! You're so lucky to have heard her speak in person. I'm truly jealous.

That is pertty interesting about her work in Washington, though she is so articulate and elegant on her TV programs that it comes as no surprise that she did some kind of government work. I'm sure it developed her speaking skills--esp her ability to communicate in a warm and clear way.

I don't know if I've a favorite recipe but I do know my way around a kitchen and we have some Friday dinner rituals, too. Usually I make a spicy tomato pasta dish with anchovies and some good red wine with it.

Susie @ Maddie's Nest said...

I love the ease with which her recipes come together and my copy of How Easy is That is tattered and splattered. I DVR her show and watch it when I am feeding Harry! Sounds like the perfect weekend!

Anonymous said...

Aha, you have written so much about a favorite cookbook author of mine with a few things I did not know (like cilantro, which, I must admit, I also do not like). I have all of Ina's books and had the pleasure of meeting her at a book signing. She is lovely.

My favorite recipe of Ina Garten's at this time of year is Vegetable Tian. Zucchini, potatoes, and tomatoes with Guyere cheese grated on top. Who needs meat? Off hand, I believe it is in Barefoot in Paris.

Sigh. I need to go to the store for some butter.

The Buzz Blog said...

Love Ina and own many of her books... When her store closed in EH, we cried! Did you happen to see Diane and Cynthia there last night? I think they were planning on attending - sounds like a wonderful talk!

Traci Giles said...

Lucky you to have attended this event, Lisa! I'm a huge fan as well, my favorites are her first ever cookbook (lemon-thyme grilled chicken is a staple here) and Barefoot in Paris (best salad dressing for fresh garden greens I've ever tasted), and it's signed by Ina so it's extra special!

The enchanted home said...

Yes my kitchen and I are VERY good to cook and love to be insired and Ina and I are great friends (wink) hope to get a show going with her entitlted "Cooking with Ina and company' then we can all take a turn each week cooking our favorite meals with her! What do you think? Should I sign you up? This was great, I enjoyed this post becuase I like her so much, shes so real and I like her approach and philosophy (much like my own) when it comes to how she shops for a meal to how she cooks it. I own every one of her books and will continue to be a big fan as long as she keeps on cooking! Your Hamptons day sounded perfect!!

pretty pink tulips said...

I love how you're living the Hamptons lifestyle, Lisa!!!

And, I adore Ina! I was hooked from the first book and have given her books as gifts to friends over the years. I think her first book is my favorite...probably b/c I've cooked so many of those recipes. She never fails me. It always turns out like it should - so I guess I'm really grateful that she measures! :)

I have watched her show and even some episodes multiple times....I love the Hamptons, Ina's approach and I think it made me feel like I was there!

Enjoy every minute that you're there!
xoxo Elizabeth

Natalie said...

Loved this post! I heart Ina she is one of my favorite cooks. I own all of her cookbooks and religiously watch her show. I would love to own a little shop like hers one day.

Town and Country Mom said...

I make something from one of Ina's books probably once or twice a week (yesterday it was pesto), and I can honestly say that everything has turned out great! I love her recipes as well as her suggestions for assembling platters when cooking time is too scarce. Her emphasis on being a relaxed host or hostess makes all difference! Thanks for sharing--I am jealous you got to hear her and Stephen Drucker.

Party Resources said...

I love love love Ina and I am so jealous! What fun! xx

Heavenly Housewife said...

NO FREAKING WAY DAAAAAAAAHLING!!! I AM DYING :( Dying of jealousy. You must pass her my number and get her to call me or I will throw a major tantrum... the likes of which Mr P will not be able to contain. Serious!
*kisses* HH
p.s. cilantro is an acquired taste. I didn't like it at first, but now I use it all the time. Its great in Indian and Mexican style food.
p.s.s. here's something you might not know about Ina, she has a place in St Germain in Paris and goes market shopping there whenever she is around. She loves Poilaine and having lunch next door at Cuisine de Bar

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

Oh my goodness I love Ina!! I think every recipe so far that I have tried of hers has been a big hit!! I learned about her working at the White House by watching Food Networks Chefology series. How amazing to get to see her in person!!

Colleen Carney said...

Wonderful post Lisa, thanks for sharing! As a fellow career changer I am inspired by Ina's courage to leave a high profile job to follow her passion. She is proof that greater success than you can imagine will come if you follow your dreams! My next dream is to be invited to her home for a phenomenal meal...;) XOXO Colleen

lizziefitz said...

I adore Ina and ALWAYS have. My children watch with me, we DVR her show, dance to her opening music and own every cookbook. She is sunshine in our home! Did I mention that I want to move into her barn?

annie said...

I adore Ina and all of her cook books. I read them cover to cover. I actually designed my kitchen (smaller version) like her barn kitchen. I have yet to have the chance to meet her in person, but maybe someday. I admire her style in terms of her home and of course her entertaining.

The Zhush said...

Adore Ina, but knew so little about her until now...thanks for all this great info! ( I love cilantro too..but I tend to measure everything;) )

Anonymous said...

Oh, I LOVE Ina! I own all of her cookbooks and my dream would be to attend one of her fabulous dinner parties. xoxo

Andrika King said...

I have all her books and love them all! Sounds like a perfect day!

Barbara@HausDesign said...

Your Hamptons Day sounds really amazing! I love Ina Garten - her zest for live and her way of entertaining are perfection to me...something special, yet relaxed but not lazy or sloppy. Just right! Fun post.

Barbara@HausDesign said...

Your Hamptons Day sounds really amazing! I love Ina Garten - her zest for live and her way of entertaining are perfection to me...something special, yet relaxed but not lazy or sloppy. Just right! Fun post.

lisaroyhandbags said...

Great post! There were so many things I didn't know about her - what an interesting gal! I love watching her show - she makes everything look so effortless and stressless and so darn delicious at the same time! I love that with all of her success she's not the least bit pretentious - just a very likeable, talented woman :)

Curtains In My Tree said...

What a good write up about Ina . I watch her at least 3 times and week

I would love to watch her from a far at the market

love her brownies


for the love of a house said...

yep, knew all that!:) been an Ina-devotee since her years on the old Martha show!! even flew to Seattle from Dallas once to go to a Barefoot in Paris booksigning- she was so lovely in person. I credit her for teaching me how to cook! love her. I'm sure this was a fabulous time seeing her and Stephen together!!

happy weekend!

quintessence said...

I am a huge fan of Ina's as well and own every cookbook she has published. She makes delicious food accessible both in terms of taste and visual appeal. Can't wait for the App!!

Dovecote Decor said...

What a great interview. My 3 girls and I adore Ina's books and food. My new website has taken me away from the blogs way to much. I wanted to give you a heads up: We are so excited to be included in HGTV's Freebie Friday blog giveaway tomorrow. We are giving away a cool Asian lacquer coffee or low side table in one of 5 color options, so come on by for a chance to win!! Its worth upwards of $500.00 so its our biggest yet. Give us a tweet or a thumbs up on our FB page!
Good Luck!

M.A.the2nd said...

Dearest Lisa .... thank-you for visiting and you could join us in Paris anytime you like! Alexander loved it so much he wants to live there! I don't know the Barefoot Contessa but she sounds amazing and anyone who uses fresh, natural produce is tops in my book! I will email soon with lots of news!
lots of love

STYLE'N said...

wow what a great post! I cannot believe her mom did not cook with salt or butter and I love hearing how "Barefoot Contessa" came to be...esp with the specialty shop and all.. Hope you have a wonderful weekend and have many more "hampton's" happiness days!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like such a nice day in the Hamptons! Ina is amazing and SO inspiring! Hope you're doing well and having a great summer!!
xo E + J

red ticking said...

i have been wanting to write you and this is the perfect post to do it!

i would love to meet you this summer and will be in montauk late august. we will work something out for sure!

i love ina and years ago i met her and she was delightful. i think it was after her 1st book... i so wanted her to come do a book signing at red ticking and she was so kind. she advised me that her publisher had the whole schedule decided and of course i was a very small fish in a big pond.

she gave me her phone # and told me if i was ever in EH to call her ... i have seen her 3 or 4x since and she continues to amaze me with her kindness.

i have every book and i have tooo many recipes to list out... her sticky buns are completely insane... and about 100 others i adore...

wishing you a wonderful weekend... xoxo

Jane, Naples, Florida said...

I love her...she taught me to cook
late in my life! I really enjoyed
your article and wish I could have
been there..thank you for sharing!

Flora Doora

Marianne {Style For Living} said...

I just got back from being gone last week and boy do I have a lot of blog reading to catch up on! So jealous you got to hear Ina speak!!! She is my absolute favorite and I own every one of her books. I have never made anything I didn't like from her. I did get to meet her at a book signing, but that's nothing compared to your lovely day! xo

kayce hughes said...

Love Ina, cilantro and real butter!

Jennings and Gates said...

Everything we have ever made from a Barefoot Contessa cookbook has tasted scrumptious. She's a kitchen genius. Thanks for the great post!

Casa Bella said...

I love, love Ina. I have all her cookbooks and I think I know all her shows by heart! She's fabulous.
Sounds like an awesome day, darling!

Bunny from Couleur Nature said...

Love the Barefoot Contessa - she's an inspiration to keep cooking food's that delicious but simple. . .Thanks for sharing.

Francine Gardner said...

Wonderful post, I so enjoyed reading about the Barefoot Contessa. I have to admit that I never read her books (I will admit that I cannot cook for my life and solely depends on my husband to keep the household fed) but I am fascinated by her career path, her success and her persona.

Lulu {The Home You Make} said...

Had to come check out your post on Ina!! Loved the insight. I really am obsessed with her, and love all the tips in her cookbooks too. I curl up on the couch with them like novels! Happy Cooking!