Tag Archives: sappy

Hear Your Heroes: A Conversation with Ina Garten

Who would you invite to your fake fantasy dinner party?

Let’s assume it’s you + 3 people. No stipulations.

I’m going to say: Tina Fey, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Ina Garten.

I think we’d all have lots to talk about, no? Tina and Ina already have met on 30 Rock. Tina and Lin are both prolific writers and actors. Lin and I are both Puerto Rican. I mean, the conversation is flowing and I haven’t even opened the first fake bottle of wine yet.

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via Buzzfeed

Ina Garten spoke in Richmond last Tuesday and I got the opportunity to go and, PEOPLE, it was incredible.

Disclaimer: I am a dork and I love Ina Garten, so if either of these things offend you, just X on outta this post.

IMG_9175

The only photo I took. It is genuinely terrible. 

I think I’ve seen every episode of Ina’s show, The Barefoot Contessa. I own more of her cookbooks than anyone’s and they’re the first books I consult when I have a party, need a recipe, or need inspiration. She feels like a friend or family member. Her soothing manner of saying, “how easy is that?” is instantly calming.

I’ll admit, I cried more than once during the event. (I said I was a dork.) But honestly, I was overwhelmed by her ease and grace was really  inspired by the path her career has taken. She is even more more interesting and charming in person.

Throughout the evening, which was billed as ‘a conversation with Ina Garten’, the moderator (who was also a friend of hers) steered us through questions about her early years in nuclear energy policy at The White House, how that brought her to to buy the deli in the Hamptons called The Barefoot Contessa, how she was so out of her depth when she first owned it but then how it rose to success, how she wrote her first cookbook, and how she started with The Food Network. The biggest success of her entire career didn’t come until her late 30s/early 40s. She turned down the pilot to her cooking show and then the Food Network came back to her with a better offer. And then she turned it down again. Until they just told her, “yeah, we’re going to shoot this pilot. We’re coming in 2 weeks.” Insanity.

It was fascinating to me to hear her talk candidly about her successes and failures, but even more interesting was when she spoke so honestly of feeling overwhelmed or scared to do something new, but just doing it anyway. It’s a good reminder not to let those fears of how or why get in your way. Just do it and then figure out why you’re doing it later. You can course correct once you’ve started.

Of course, there were some wonderful entertaining tips, which I’m excited to share with y’all. Some of these are fairly intuitive, yet, I didn’t always think of them. But that’s the thing she does best—strips back the bullshit and gets to things in their simplest terms.

  • Dinner parties are about the friends, not the food. So pick a really simple meal and just enjoy yourself. As a guest, you don’t want to impose upon your host. And as a host, you don’t want to be in the kitchen all night.
  • Only invite people that you really love over for dinner.
  • The fancier the guests, the simpler the dinner.
  • Ask your guests what they don’t eat and then make one meal for everyone. Find the thread between vegetarian/pescetarian/omnivore/other.
  • Always put the two most talkative people opposite each other. If they’re next to each other, the conversation stops with them.

I think the loveliest moment of the evening was when the moderator asked Ina why she felt food/food culture has become so important now.

I’m paraphrasing here, but she said that it’s really about taking care of ourselves and connecting with people. We have high stress jobs and ‘jangled nervous.’ How generous it is to be able care for cook for someone.

Isn’t that the whole point of this life—to connect with and care for others? There is nothing I’d rather do than make someone feel cared for and loved with some fried chicken and a pie.

That got a little sappy, y’all. But Ina brings out it out in me.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled quippiness.

Ina Garten is a New York Times best selling author and has many wonderful cookbooks, which are available here.

Her newest cookbook is called Cooking for Jeffrey and comes out in October.

 

 

 

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Mid-Week Malaise: Fried Oreos and Rosé

It’s the middle of the week and I have that mid-week malaise. It’s too soon to get excited about this weekend. So I will reminisce about last weekend. And last weekend, I had fried Oreos and rosé on the porch. Did you? No?

Well, that’s a shame.

I’m not going to say that I won.

…but I think it’s pretty clear.

My friend Rebecca came down from DC on Saturday and we had just a splendid weekend. I don’t want to get all Mother’s Day-Facebook-post-sentimental about it, but we became fast friends eight years ago working in our first jobs together. You’ve heard of the saying, “make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold.” This one is platinum.

Alright, I know, that was REALLY sappy. But I stand by it.

Ernie, as I sometimes call her (her maiden name is Ernst), came in gunning for a blog-worthy weekend and a blog-worthy weekend we had. She arrived on Saturday and we went to the Strawberry Street Festival, which was quite literally across the street from my house. I thought this street festival was going to be like, a tent with a guy doing balloon animals. He may or may not be out on a parole violation. You may or may not want to let your kids talk to him. Not so, my friends. There were several delicious food vendors, activities for the kids (bouncy houses! parrots! seriously, parrots!), some really artists and cool local shops, like Love This. They sell cool pieces, like jewelry, shoes, etc., for a great cause.

ART

ART

This is my new art from Lightbox Print Co. They do hand drawn art of buildings in The Fan. These are restaurants in The Fan and at this point I’ve only eaten at 2 of them. Challenge accepted.

And yes, we had fried oreos, drank a bottle of rose, and sat on the porch.

A match made in heaven

A match made in heaven

A woman walked by and said, “God, that looks great.”

You’re right, perfect stranger. Standing tall on the wings of my dreams…nothing’s gonna stop me now.

Next stop on our tour de food was Proper Pie Co. This is another reason why I love Rebecca. I mentioned that there was a pie shop in town and she said, “well…should we go there?” Yes. Yes we should. Proper Pie Co. is all pies, all the time. They have New-Zealand style savory hand pies, plus sweet pies. This place is dope. (Is that cool to say? I don’t know.) We split a Thai Butternut Squash Hand pie and picked up a piece of coconut cream and peach and blackberry cobbler to split later. Spoiler alert: they were absolutely scrumptious. Go there now, people of Richmond. Who am I kidding, you probably already have.

PIe dios mio.

PIe dios mio.

We went to a minor league baseball game, which was really just a vehicle for us to eat hot dogs and curly fries. Our local team is the The Richmond Flying Squirrels. So, let me correct myself. The baseball game was a vehicle to eat hot dogs and squirrely fries (seriously). I really impressed Rebecca by knowing who Carl Yazstremzki is. She’ll say she wasn’t that impressed, but I know she REALLY was.

On Sunday, I made brunch.

I love you, brunch.

I love you, brunch.

While everyone else was posting really lovely, effusive stuff about their moms on Facebook, Rebecca and I watched the first episode of Bloodline, a pretty fucked up family drama/thriller on Netflix. You know, we had to balance it all out.

Stop whatever you’re doing and watch Bloodline right now. Because Kyle Chandler is in it. I’ve been a Kyle Chandler fan (we call ourselves ‘Fandlers’…we’re working on the name) since Early Edition. Remember that show? With the blind lady and the cat. He’d get tomorrow’s news today and he’d have to try to change it. It was a terrible concept. When I was younger, I asked my dad if the actress who played the blind lady was really blind. And my dad won’t let my live this down to this very day. I’m 30, you guys. But here’s the thing. I was in 6th grade, so I should’ve probably known better. Embarrassing.

Anyway, Bloodline! It’s a Netflix original. The cast is incredible. Kyle Chandler (obviously), Sissy Spacek, Sam Shepherd, Linda Cardellini, some people you’ve never heard of from Broadway but who have won Tony Awards and are incredible. The setting is insanely beautiful. It’s so well shot. It is INTENSE. I’ve seen all thirteen episodes and I actually screamed into my hands one time. But it’s seriously that good. So, stop watching whatever you’re watching and watch this.

And then as quickly as she came to Richmond, Rebecca went back up north. To the land of……..well, shit. I don’t even know. What’s in DC again? Anything?

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