I am not even going to try to be all coy and keep you in suspense through the entirety of my post, I am just too excited - I have to blurt it right out and tell you: I MET INA GARTEN TODAY (otherwise known as The Barefoot Contessa)! Who, as you know, if you follow my blog (and check my sidebars) is my absolute favorite TV chef and cookbook author. Who, if you remember, from a post way back in March, has completely captured the heart of my littlest guy, her biggest four year-old fan ...
Well, today a little dream of mine came true - I got to meet Ina AND tell her how much she has meant to me and my Earlybird! And my heart is still pounding from the very thrill of it all!
OK, now that I've gotten all that off my chest, I can move on. Here's the rest of the story ... ;)
A few weeks ago I received notice about Ina Garten's fall book tour. My heart caught in my throat when I saw she was coming to Boston in December. Now please understand, I am the biggest homebody of anybody you know (really, I'm sure I am), but when I realized that meeting Ina in person was within the realm of possibility, I quickly made the necessary arrangements. And today, at long last, was the day!
Bill cleared his schedule and came home from work early to stay home with the boys. EB didn't know where I was going, but the older two did; they sent me off with a request to take lots of pictures. (Like they had to ask!) My mum picked me up and we headed into the big city (I'm a ninny when it comes to city driving).
Luckily, traffic was not bad at all and we made it in in good time. The book signing was being held at Crate & Barrel, and was scheduled to last from 4 until 6. The weather was fine for city driving - cool, cloudy and dry. We weren't exactly sure where we were going, but we knew we were looking for The Prudential Building. At last it looomed above us.
It was a very pretty time of day - all the lights were on in the windows and trees. I'm not a real city kind of gal, but it did look nice and festive as we drove around.
We found the store, a parking spot and within a few minutes we were waiting in line, new books in hand. (Thank you for the early birthday present, Mum!) It was just 2:30 and we had an hour and a half to wait!
It must be said - and I'll be sending an email - Crate and Barrel did an amazing job organizing this event. I've only ever been to one book signing before - Jan Brett in a small Cambridge toy shop when Bookworm and Crackerjack were tiny. I wasn't sure what to expect. Well, let me tell you, this was like one big party! There was Christmas music playing, the staff was extremely cheerful and helpful, coming around with shortbread stars, chocolate cupcakes, brownies and bottled water. (Save for the water, all treats were made from Ina's new line of specialty foods and of baking kits.) Needless to say everything was DELICIOUS. I think those shortbread stars were the best cookies I've ever had in my life. Ever.
Luckily for us we were number 67 in a line of 200, so our books would be personalized as well as signed. There were people kept waiting on the lower floor, just to get in line. (Very happy we came in early.) Also luckily for us we were waiting in the furniture corner of the store! We had comfy chairs and couches at our disposal. Naturally my mum and I got talking with the very nice woman who was in line behind us. She kindly took a picture of the two of us with our new books. (Could my smile get any wider? So very giddy at this point.)
At 4:00 on the button, Ina arrived! I couldn't see her (well, I saw her dark shiny hair from the back), but everyone clapped as she was led to her table. People around us - veteran book signing attendees - remarked over how highly unusual it is for an author to show up right on time. And here our Ina was perfectly punctual.
As we moved closer, I took pictures every few steps, and just before we got up to the table, I asked an assistant for help. I had brought a little piece of fan mail with me to give to Ina - a print-out of the page from my blog showing Earlybird's true affection for Ina. I also included a letter from me, explaining it all and thanking Ina for bringing so much delight into our lives. As we got closer to the table, though I got nervous. I couldn't eat the final few goodies being passed around.
And here at last is Ina just moments before my turn. Let me just say - she is so lovely. She was so gracious and warm, just as you would expect her to be. And beautiful? Oh my goodness, she is even prettier in real life than she is on tv.
This was a well-oiled machine, and we only had seconds with Ina. (In fact, we weren't allowed to pose with her, but were allowed to snap away while she worked. Goodness, did I snap.)
Finally it was my moment and it was over so fast! I honestly have no idea all that I said, but I know I couldn't stop smiling. I handed her my letter and tried to explain (rather bumblingly, I fear) that it was about my son, who is 4, who just loves her, who learned how to say Ina two years ago when he couldnt say much else. Ina smiled at me (that fabulous smile) and asked if my little boy cooked with me. Oh, yes, I replied - he loves to cook and he just loves you! And then she said she would read my letter just as soon as the event was over. And then she thanked me! Oh, you could have knocked me over with a feather, I swear.
Next it was my mum's turn and I managed to recover enough to snap another few pictures. Can you see the very edge of my white envelope to the left of her right elbow? :)
Just as we were leaving I turned back to the storefront and soaked in the lights and the bustle. Ina was in there, signing and chatting away, hardly knowing how many lives she touches with her brightness and warmth.
Such a happy experience! My mum and I had a blast, and we came home with a great story to tell - and one golly of a memory!
Oh, and the cookbook? Oh yes, it's as good as you can imagine! Fabulous, in fact!