At a recent promotional event for Ina Garten's latest cookbook, Cook Like a Pro, I had the privilege of witnessing New York Times' opinion columnist Frank Bruni ask Ina Garten all of the hard-hitting questions, including (but not limited to) which cookbook in her collection she would choose, if *pause for dramatic effect* she had to choose just ONE.
Dun, dun, dun.
Ina took a deep breath before carefully selecting Barefoot Contessa Parties! Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties That Are Really Fun, published in March of 2001.
You see that exclamation point nestled smack dab in the middle of the title? Ina's purposeful use of punctuation proves that parties don't have to be anxiety-inducing occasions, but instead something to get excited about. Are you excited about throwing a party yet?
Our cookbook queen then went on to explain her choice: "It's not the most popular [of my books], but it wasn't an abysmal failure, at least that's what my publisher said. I just love its basic, simple, easy-to-make recipes like roast filet of beef with Roquefort sauce, and rack of lamb."
Why yes, Ina, I too would describe recipes like roast filet of beef with Roquefort sauce and rack of lamb as basic, simple, and easy to make ... IN AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE. Perhaps my lack of confidence in my red meat-making abilities lies in the fact that I do not own Parties! (Yet.) This alone has convinced me to pick up my own personal copy so that I can whip up a rack of lamb for a crowd with the confidence of the Barefoot Contessa.
Speaking of parties, Bruni then went on to ask Ina what she views as the most successful dinner party she's ever pulled off. Her response was, much like her recipes, simple yet aspirational at the same time. "I find that the best dinner parties are small groups, like six people, in the kitchen. The other night, Jeffrey and I invited over two other couples that also really like each other. It was just a wonderful, warm night."
I'm ready to throw a party for six people now — no more, no less. What's on the menu? Filet of beef with Roquefort sauce. Wish me luck. Here's to hoping that it will be a wonderful, and warm night!
What's your favorite Ina Garten cookbook? Discuss in the comments below!