Saturday, December 8, 2012


Ina Garten in the Hamptons (and Elsewhere)

I love Ina.  I am not alone.  Thousands do.  But, have all her devotees been devoted as long as I?  Maybe, but I doubt it.  Long ago in the late 80's and early 90's, I spied her in an article in Martha Stewart's magazine.  Am so afraid I threw that one out, but it pictured a youngish Martha joining a youngish Ina for dinner with a group of friends, and I was hooked right then and there.  Ina's kitchen in East Hampton was charming, and I loved her Viking stove and the very relaxed way she seemed to be entertaining.  (Martha never seems so relaxed.)


When Martha's 1990 winter issue came out, it again featured an article on Ina, this time about her Barefoot Contessa shop and of its success in Westhampton.

Here is Ina in her shop which she decided to buy after tiring of working in the White House Office of Management and Budget.  She had never been to the Hamptons, but saw an ad for the shop - The Barefoot Contessa - in the New York Times. She and her husband inspected it, put in a low-ball offer, and next day found themselves the owners.  Eighteen years later the store was an icon in Westhampton famous for food from "cookies and cakes to curried couscous, from barbecued ribs to grilled lemon chicken salad."

At the end of these eighteen years, Ina sold The Barefoot Contessa to two employees who continued the shop until 2003.  At this time, perhaps because of her friendship with Patricia Wells, Ina decided to try her hand at writing a cookbook -  The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.  It's success was overwhelming.

In it, Ina revealed many recipes honed and well known from her shop including many of her easy entertaining tips.

In 2002, Barefoot Contessa Family Style was released and Ina began her show on the Food Network. Soon her kitchen below became a familiar site to many of her fans including myself, who owns all of her cookbooks and swears by all of her recipes.  I use them frequently for family and guests and they are indeed Foolproof - the title of her latest cookbook.

It must have been difficult cooking while co-existing with cameras and wires and just day-to-day living in the same smallish kitchen shown above.  So, with her new success, Ina had her new "barn" built behind her home, and it now houses her beautiful kitchen, entertaining area, and guest quarters.  What a barn it is! (All images below are from House Beautiful.)

With entertaining space outside and in.

With a garden full of herbs and vegetables for cooking and flowers to grace her table.




Entering the new barn, we first see a sofa from Bloom, a South Hampton store I must visit.  Axel Vervoordt played a large part in the antique acquisitions for her barn, and they help give the rooms that clean Belgian look.

Below is the much-loved kitchen familiar to all Ina's viewers and readers.  In a play on Ina's words, "How beautiful is this?"

Same great kitchen, different season.  The doorway to the left is the entry, the doorway to the right is the pantry.  Feel like I know this kitchen like my own.

Close-up of the Belgian fireplace.  Belgian is a great fit for Ina.  It has the simplicity and grace her food and design demand.

The kitchen looking away from the fireplace and toward the guest quarters.  Love the beams and those strings of tiny halogen lights spanning the room.  And the kitchen stools.  Love, love those.  (Robert Stilin, who designed the barn, found the stools and has made them available.)  I also like the simple lamps on the island offering more intimate lighting when dining there.

For later, note the basket at the end of the island.

Close up of Vervoordt's wonderful blue cupboard storing Ina's entertaining essentials.

Close up of kitchen with identical open shelving and refrigerators on each side of stove.  Ina says it makes for easier cooking and testing recipes with her assistant.  The island, home to those wonderful stools, is made of petite fossil Belgian stone.  The floors are oak.

Huge pantry to die for.

Below are two typically-Ina table scapes in the barn- simple and lovely.


Desk area of kitchen.

Work area outside guest bedroom.  In one episode of The Barefoot Contessa, Ina prepares the guest room for and cooks with her friend, Patricia Wells.  I have never seen this segment.  If anyone has it saved on their DVR or somewhere, please let me know.

Guest room which I never saw on TV- not to belabor the point.


The checked chair in guest room with Ina's signature sticky buns nearby, probably prepared for the Patricia Wells episode.  Did I mention, I never saw this episode?

Guest bath.  It's a tub in which to soak up to your neck and read a good book.

Entertaining niche outside.

Peek at the main house from the barn.

Ina's kitchen became so popular it was replicated in New York City's Rockefeller Center as House Beautiful's kitchen of the year in 2009.

Below is the a copy of the basket Ina has in her own kitchen.  She uses hers (which I asked you to note above) to store large serving boards, cookie sheets and platters.  Great idea.  I'm still looking for one narrow enough for my kitchen.
Here, House Beautiful replicates Ina's work desk.

And chair.


And mantel.  Love the chair and the color of its linen fabric.

Leaving East Hampton, we look at "Elsewhere," in this case Ina's Manhattan apartment.  

When Ina saw the window here, she turned to her real estate agent and said, "I'll take it."  She purchased the two sofas in Belgium and decided on the pumpkin-colored velvet curtains, because she "just always wanted them."


Ina first saw the bookcase at Axel Vervoodt's antiques shop in Belgium (another Billie destination).
Of Vervoordt, she says, "Axel is the most extraordinary designer I've ever met in my life.  Very inspiring.  For example, when I bought those little white pots that are on the mantel, I picked two and asked, 'Should I buy a third?'  And he said, 'No -- find something personal to put with them.'  And I thought that's why Axel's interiors work, because they have soul.  He taught me how to mix modern and antique things.  It's the old things that work best because they have much cleaner lines."  OMG, I thought when I read this - my worlds are colliding, Ina and Axel, two people I so admire and who articulate my thoughts.  See why I love Ina.

A tablecloth which looks like silk but can go in the washing machine.  And a peek into the kitchen,

Typically beautiful Ina table scape.  Love her stemware in La Rochere's Amite pattern.

Ah, her kitchen, a galley one with open shelving.

In this smaller space she opts for a cooktop and a wall oven installed under the counter.  A larger range would have "stuck out" in such a space.  Gray cabinets are perfect.

The bedroom has padding behind the wall fabric to make it quieter.


Now onto more "Elsewhere."  This time from Town and Country magazine - Ina in Paris.  Note that this article is written by Walter Wells, husband of Patricia and good friend to Ina and Jeffrey.  I banter these names about like I know these people.  In a way, I feel I do because Ina makes me feel that way - comfortable.

How lovely is this room - the white sofa, the tapestry chairs, the table setting with glasses matching the peonies.  I really need a Paris atelier to use my excess china and crystal.  A Paris atelier - definitely one of my five houses.


And the kitchen - this time with a La Cornue stove.  So French, so beautiful.

A typical cheese board and table arranged Ina style.  Note the printing on the bottom left explains that the table is from Vervoordt.  I'm in heaven.

Very neutral bedroom.  Perfect.

Another  large tub, and note the so-French grill work outside the window.

Back in East Hampton, we see another  pretty and simple Ina table scape...

Another cheese platter and Amite patterned stemware...

Her turkey roulade which is a tried-and-true Thanksgiving entree at my house...

Her parmesan chicken topped with salad, another Henninger favorite...

And lastly, another beautiful table scape.

Was this post too long??  Sorry, but I have been waiting almost a year to blog about my most favorite chef and entertaining master.  I know many have written about her before, but I am a fervent admirer, and feel, in this post, I have finally lived up to my blog's name.  Ina's truly are the "kitchens I have loved."

With this post, I end my Hampton coverage, at least for now.  Next time it's on to my "warm and cozy" focus - just in time for the holidays.

Have a warm and cozy week-end, dear friends, and cook something!
b




4 comments:

  1. Hi Billie, I am a huge Ina fan and can never get enough so, no, not too long. Thanks for sharing the photos of her NYC apartment - I have never seen it. I am also a huge Axel Vervoordt fan so this Ina/Axel mash-up has made my weekend.
    xo,
    P

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes! I knew you would be an Ina fan. Billie, let's go stalk her together :) She has such amazing taste and a unique style. Very worldly, yet warm and approachable. Sorry to say goodbye to the Hamptons. You forgot Martha and Lily Pond Lane!!
    xo
    Loi

    ReplyDelete
  3. So much I never saw, knew, or hadn't ever connected with Ina -- like the Manhattan apartment. I've seen photos of the kitchen, but didn't know it was hers. Nice post. And no, not too long. I really enjoyed reading it.
    Camille

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love Ina too! Thanks for the great post!

    ReplyDelete