Thursday, December 24, 2009

100th Post!!

I know it's been a while since my last post. This is my 100th entry and I wanted it to be special. It just took a while before I was able to scan my picture and put it on my laptop.

I've been a fan of Nigella's for almost ten years. I remember watching her on the Style Channel when she had the show Nigella Bites. She was creative with her cooking without being pretentious and she was the first woman I'd ever seen on television who made me feel like it was okay not to be a size 2. She was dead sexy and still enjoyed food. As I watched her fry Snickers and call for a reprinting of Liberace Cooks, I lost my heart.

Over time, I acquired and enjoyed all of her books. She recently released Nigella Christmas and during her book tour, she had a scheduled stop in Princeton! I just happened to be at Barnes & Noble when the sign was out and I couldn't believe my eyes! I don't watch T.V. I don't have cable so I really don't know many celebrity chefs other than what we carry in the bookstore where I work. Nigella and I go way back though. Meeting her has been on my life's to do list for years.

I put the date in my calendar in my phone and took the day off of work since I also had something to do at Molly's school that morning. I made arrangements for her to go to a friends house after school so I could spend the afternoon and evening waiting at the shopping center where Nigella would be. The event started at 7:30 with limited seating. I know this is crazy but I got there at 1:00. I wasn't about to take the chance of missing out! I'd been there when other celebrity authors were in town and the lines were insane by 3:30.

When I arrived, the event area wasn't even set up yet and I didn't see a crowd. I checked the service desk to make sure I had the right day! I found a flier for the Nigella signing and I was in the right place at the right time. I couldn't believe no one else was there yet! I was reading the rules and I could already tell that she was going to be cool. As long as you bought her new book, she would sign as many others as you had. She was also willing to personalize greetings AND pose for pictures. This is very rare for authors. I brought Nigella Bites, How to be a Domestic Goddess and Feast for her to sign. As you can see, I also brought my Polaroid. I still have some film stashed away for it.

I spent several hours roaming around the shopping center to kill some time. I went to Starbucks and got some iced tea and a muffin for when I got hungry in line. I went back to the bookstore and there were chairs set up and about 3 people waiting. They weren't going to let us take seats until 6:00. I ended up next to some ladies who were sisters. They seemed really close and it made me miss my sisters. They were a lot of fun to talk to and hang out with and the time passed quick.

The first 3 rows of seating was reserved so I got as close as I could when we were allowed to go in. I was happy with my spot. I had some magazines to read and that helped speed up the remaining hour and a half. There were lots of people there by that point.

She came out at about 7:40 and I was surprised at how short she was. She had a pencil skirt on and a green sweater that hugged her curves. I couldn't believe I was looking at Nigella Lawson in person. She gave a talk about her new book. How Christmas is really important in England because they don't celebrate Thanksgiving ("for good reason" she smirked). She let some people ask questions. Someone asked if she was going to be back on TV and she said that she preferred to just stick to writing because she was able to do it while her children were at school. Filming a show took too much time away from her family. I was amazed. How many celebrities to do see going right back to hectic work schedules right after they have children? To see her putting her family ahead of her career was quite refreshing. I'm not trying to start a debate here. I just appreciate that someone that I look up to so much is actually in the same boat as me! I base my work schedule around Molly's school and I know that I am very luck to have an employer who supports this. I don't take it for granted at all!

Someone else asked for restaurant recommendations in London and she gave two places. One place that she loves for good Italian food and another for traditional British fare. Another girl was getting married in the UK and she told her felicitations. She said congratulations to her fiance because he was the lucky one. The girl wanted a suggestion for a traditional English dish to serve at their wedding. She suggested toad in the hole in individual ramekins. I've never had this but I plan to make some with Morningstar links sometime soon!

I actually got to ask her a question too! I told her that reading How to be a Domestic Goddess always sent my imagination rolling when I would see a recipe that called for some kind of flavored sugar. She sometimes calls for sugar that is flavored with vanilla or orange, etc. I told her that I was also a big collector of various types of salts and sugars. I mentioned vanilla salt that I'd picked up in Germany and she was taken aback. Vanilla salt?! With her accent, it sounded more like solt. :-) I told her that I always imagined her kitchen counter to be covered with various jars of flavored sugars and such and I asked if I was on track. She said that in her kitchen, she has what is known as the Cupboard of Doom. She said that you are taking your life into your own hands if you open it. I have one of those too!

We got in line for the signing and I got my books ready. I had her sign Nigella Bites for my mom because she's also a fan. When I called her the next day to tell her, she was thrilled. When it was my turn to meet Nigella, I tried to make it a point not to totally gush! She asked me what I was going to do with the vanilla salt and I told her I'd probably attempt some salted caramels. "Oh, I think that's a wonderful idea!" she said. When I whipped out my Polaroid, a few people laughed. I didn't care. I've always wanted a Polaroid with Nigella. The guy who was taking the pictures was impressed and Nigella was impressed too.

I was glowing when I left the bookstore almost 9 hours after I arrived. Meeting one of my biggest inspirations in cooking was absolutely worth the wait!


  1. aw!
    avery, this was such a nice post to read. i don't really know anything about nigella, but i can totally relate to meeting someone you admire from afar. but for me, i get too star struck to be a good conversationalist. it sounds like you held your own really well.

    what an awesome thing!

  2. Happy 100th post! You made it a good one there.