Or rather, I'm pretty sure she would like them, given the chance to taste them. A chance we would have both had, if only I'd known that she was going to be making an appearance in my building today. My briefly-entertained fantasies of impressing Ina into friendship with my cookies were dashed when I realized that I did not have any cookies with me. Gone were the daydreams of being invited out to her fancy Hamptons tea parties with the charming local gourmands.
And what was Ina doing here in the first place, you wonder? Well, every so often, the upper-ups at the massive corporation that I work for (and which shall continue to go unnamed) bring in a celebrity guest chef to stand in our cafeteria shaking hands and signing autographs. Some of you might remember the tizzy I was in over our last (sexy) guest: Rocco (sexy) Dispirito. Ina didn't inspire quite the same sexually-charged frenzy, but there was most definitely a bit of excitement in the air. All the cafeteria was abuzz with hushed words about Ina, Jeffrey, and their lovely Hamptons home. I admit that, like Rocco before her, I've never been a huge fan in terms of her culinary abilities, but I do occasionally watch her show because it's on and because I like how much she talks about her husband Jeffrey who is perpetually out of town on "business."
(Side note: I'm not quite sure what Jeffrey is always doing away on business. Fortunately, Ina has lots of friends to keep her company in his absence. These friends all seem to be stunning gay men who own gourmet cheese shops and wineries in the Hamptons, and are always more than happy to show up hostess gift in hand to her nifty themed dinner parties ("make your own pizza!" "retro comfort food!" "grown-up sundaes!").)
Though my encounter with Ina was much more eloquent than the giggly mumbling I managed before Rocco, it took all my will power to resist asking about Jeffrey and what he's eating now that *she* is the one out of town. I imagine she left a roast in the oven and some homemade ice cream in the freezer. Perhaps even a few freshly baked scones and home-churned butter for breakfast. I spent much of my time in line debating the question that has plagued me for ages regarding the contessa; is it eee-nah or ayy-nah? Fortunately she answered the question for me when she introduced herself and shook my hand with her own chubby warm hand. I promptly forgot the correct pronunciation, so taken was I with the Contessa's warm presence. She was gracious enough to pose for a photo, which I promise to post soon despite the fact that I came out looking much less than fabulous. Awkward and hunched over would be more accurate actually; she's short and I'm not. Also, I was subtly trying to hide my chicken Ceasar club lettuce wrap behind her back to keep it out of the picture. Not the easiest thing when one is in the presence of celeb chef glory.
As for my cookies, well, as threatened: a springtime twist on the classic Italian rainbow cookies! (Yes. I'm obsessed).
I played around with the colors and flavors and came up with this yummy white chocolate, raspberry, and lemon curd version that might actually be even BETTER than the original! Ina didn't get a chance to taste them, but I did bring in some tiny samples for my coworkers.
"It's like crack," I said as I handed out the bite-sized pieces. "The first one is free; just let me know if you want any more."
I've already sold three batches of them so I'm thinking the business model works. And yes, I was entirely influenced by the American Gangster DVD that arrived from NetFlix this past weekend.
P.S. She wasn't actually barefoot. I'm not really sure what that whole thing is about in the first place.
P.P.S. Doesn't "Ina Garten" sound like "In a Garden"? Which is just perfect since most of her parties are actually thrown in her garden...
P.P.P.S. Buy your own batch of my springtime version and regular italian rainbow cookies here.