This post has been a long time coming. I'm embarassed to say that we bobbled the thank you note to Martha in all of our running around the East Coast. It never actually made it into the mail until we returned to Colorado and since we are talking about Martha Stewart here, I couldn't bring myself to post the essay until I was sure that note had acually reached it's destination. It's still better to be late than never to arrive at all. Whether or not she actually received it is anyone's guess, but at least I know that we made the effort.
Every girl is brought up knowing that you should never leave the house unless you look your best. Whether or not you live by this tenet is a matter of personal choice but the last time I left my house looking less than my best I ended up meeting Martha Stewart. Lesson learned, it will never happen again.
So, for most of the week before it happened I had been miserably sick, sore throat, aches, pains and general malaise. It struck me full force on Sunday and concerned that I might be sick for the various events we are cooking for in the next two weeks, Alex made sure that I was housebound until I was visibly feeling better. By the time Wed. rolled around, I was stir crazy and beside myself. "We are going out to lunch and I don't care what you say." I informed Alex. "Where are you taking me?" Since I had been hounding him about Tia Pol for the last year he decided to humor me on two counts and take me there for lunch.
At lunchtime, the restaurant is not too crowded and we decided to dine at the bar. It was comfortable and spacious with the sunlight streaming in from the street. We settled in and ordered a few tapas, the patatas bravas (roughly diced fried potatoes drizzled with a spicy aioli--amazing and delicious), paquetitos de jamón con alcachofa (warm packets of artichoke hearts and manchego wrapped in Serrano ham—a good idea but too salty when cooked) and navajas y almejas (razor clams and cockles—cockles were tender and delicious but the razors were chewy and overcooked). We ate and drank and chatted with the bartender as we debated about what to order next.
“Isn’t that Martha Stewart?” Alex pointed out the window at a figure crossing the street towards us. It was indeed Martha Stewart and the three of us watched as she crossed the street and walked past the restaurant. What can I say, I’ve been reading her cookbooks since I was a little girl, I was fascinated just to see her on the streets of NY.
We ordered a few more tapas on the bartender’s recommendations, the deviled eggs which were fabulous, pinchos moruns (grilled lamb skewers served on a piece of bread to sop up the juices), montaditos de crema de habitas con beyos (sliced bread lavishly spread with a creamy fava bean and beyos cheese purée), and a special of marinated white anchovies served with an olive and pine nut relish. As we waited for this next round Martha walked in by herself and sat down at the bar only one stool down from where Alex was seated.
Never one to miss an opportunity, Alex offered her some of our patatas bravas which were still hot, crunchy, creamy and tasty. She acquiesced gracefully and as more food arrived, we offered her a few choice bites. Since Alex and I have a tendency to order more food than we can ever finish, it was no hardship to share with our neighbor. I have to say that I have heard all of the stories about Martha and that in this instance she was nothing but gracious and cordial. We chatted through the meal and she ultimately invited us to come to see a taping of her show. She originally invited us to come the next morning because Mario Batali was going to be on and unfortunately we had to decline because we were previously engaged. So instead she invited us to the taping that afternoon. After giving us directions she left to go back to the studio and we were left to tie up a few loose ends before going to join her studio audience.
We made it to the studio just under the wire. We were whisked to the front section and given reserved seats in the second row right on the floor. The show was very entertaining and afterwards she invited us back to tour the kitchen and to meet her television Chef. Everywhere we went people asked us how we knew Martha. The studio was gorgeous and the kitchen had all of the equipment from her original studio in Connecticut. It was everything that you would expect a Martha Stewart operation to be.
I grew up on Martha’s cookbooks. They were an integral part of holiday preparations and a go to for recipes when I needed to see how something was done. In spite of her reputation and the trials and tribulations of her very public life I think that she is a role model to women today. Although her ability for achievement is daunting it gives us something to strive for. A person simply cannot reach that level of success without being both talented and driven. The fact that she has built an empire around the things that she does best is nothing short of inspiring. The fact that she was so cordial and welcoming was simply icing on the cake.