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Below are reports of Alton's Book Signing tour in August &
|BILTMORE ESTATES, ASHVILLE, NC (Aug 17-18): By
8/17/02, Biltmore Winery Front Door, 0920 hours
A few short minutes later, Alton walks up and joins us all in line. Apparently, since the door in front of us is closed, then the same door must also be closed to him. So, he just hung out with us for a few minutes, until we were all let in, when he tried to explain to the doorman with "the list" that he had no ticket. Nonetheless, they let him in. Go figure.
Ok, first impression: cool guy. VERY down to earth, VERY quick witted, and VERY funny. Inside, we all found the best seats we could, and since he had about 25 minutes by now to kill before the official start of the demo, he started a simple batch of chili (IJHFTF, pg 174, I think) in an unnamed pressure cooker (here on called "pc"). Even when asked what pc he was using, he shifted his answer to a description of it, rather than gave its brand name. He suggested that there are many good pc's available, ranging in price from $40 to $300+. I thought this was a very clever way out of having his name attached to it. Even now, I don't know which one it was, but I would know it in a store if I saw it.
MOVING ON! while he spent the next few minutes browning meat for his chili, he continued chatting and taking many questions. I did not record the event, nor do I have means of fast note taking on my palm pilot. But, I did note some Q-n-A's that I thought were interesting:
Ok, so he made chili. The hour long demo was quite
interesting, as we learned everything we ever need to know about the
history of pressure cookers, the presence of pressure cookers, and all
the reasons that he loves his pressure cooker. I'm sure I speak for at
least 70% of the non-pressure-cooker-owning group of demo-viewers when
I say, "Man, I gotta go get me a pressure cooker." I'm sold.
We learned several things that I simply do not feel (at this time) to elaborate on, such as:
THEN! That was it! At least, for the early show. I had lunch at the winery's bistro with my companions that afternoon, and got to the 330 demo rather late. Seeing the packed crowd, I knew I wasn't getting close. This was a open-to-all show, and well over 100 people were enjoying the inhalation of the beef smoke in the air. But, remembering the layout of the attached bistro, I managed to sneak into the side entrance and sit down, just stage right of front row (any body from the site remember the big guy in white, with the blue shirt? That's me!) This demo was an entertaining review of all that I had learned earlier, but was, of course, not exactly the same. I did not bother to taste this chili or get any other signatures, the crowd was just too outrageous. Instead my companions (now tipsy from wine tasting) followed me from the estate, back to our hotel.
I did not go to the Sunday show. I'm not sure if it was more chili or not. with a six hour uncomfortable drive home, I was quite ready to leave immediately after lunch.
Hmm ... that's about it. There's plenty more, but I really don't feel like looking at this screen anymore. I'll be glad to answer any specific questions anyone may have, though.
And yes, I did take some pictures. Only a few of Alton, though, and we must all hope now for the best that they come out well. I will post them by the end of the week ... maybe. And by the way, what the hell is up with the world? How often do you want to get two pictures of something (one right after the other), such as a me-n-him shot, only to have your camera run out of film after one?! you can't reload while the others are waiting! what is up with that?!
ANYway, again, this is chef "learn-something-new-everyday" shawn, signing off
BILTMORE ESTATES, ASHVILLE, NC (Aug 17-18): By Rebecca
8/16 - We made it to Asheville around 3 in the afternoon (about a 4 and 1/2 hour trip from Raleigh). Although I know this board's readers are mostly interested in "Alton adventures", I feel it would be remise of me not to mention our late afternoon/evening spent touring the NC Arboretum! What a fabulous place! There were only about four or five other people there and we walked trails and visited all the various gardens. If you ever have the opportunity to see this place, DON'T miss it!! Thanks Lee for the suggestion. Later that evening we went downtown and walked around for awhile trying to find a place to eat ... everything was kinda crowded and a bit pricey (for us), but we finally settled on what seemed to be a college hang out called the College Street Pub - food was great, prices very reasonable - service lacking (guess the waitress was only expecting a "college student type" tip - no offence meant to college students).
8/17 - We arrived at the Biltmore at about 10:00 AM. Did a tour of the mansion and this place is massive!!! My favorite room was the Winter Garden room! I also really enjoyed the outdoor gardens and Conservatory, but it was starting to get a bit warm by that time and we wanted to get to the winery by 12:30 so we kinda rushed that part a bit. The whole place is very amazing, but it was a bit hard for me to get past the ostentatiousness of it all ... but of course, what did I expect ... it is a mansion :-)
Once we arrived at the Winery, we made a beeline through the tour to the room where the demonstration was to be held arriving at 12:40. I think the folks in the tasting room were a bit surprised when we said we would pass on their kind offer to sip. We took our seats on the second row. Front row was available, in fact the only other folks in the place were a very nice couple on the front row, but we opted for second row - end of the aisle - clear view - well until later, I won't go into that here! AND THE WAIT BEGAN -- yes we took turns venturing out, had plans to try and snag a bite for lunch along the way somewhere, but the Bistro was backed up so we settle on water and pita chips we had in the car. The folks working in the gift shop came to where the seating was on at least three different occasions to ask if those of us waiting were aware that the demo didn't start until 3:30 - I'm not sure if they were shocked we would sit and wait for so long or amused!! Amazingly, however, the almost three hour wait when by very quickly
Alton arrived right on time to a loud roar from the crowd. After the Biltmore employee introduced him, albeit no introduction necessary, the employee asked if he had enjoyed his horse-drawn carriage ride of the Biltmore Estate - Alton smiled and sniffed his hands as he was putting on his apron ... laughter through the crowd. Shawn did an outstanding job of detailing the cooking details of the earlier demo and it sounds as if it was very similar to the afternoon session ... so ... I'll just give you the highlights of some of the more funny and interesting moments of the afternoon show.
These are just a few of the highlights he wrapped things up at about 4:45 and the sampling of the chili began. It was fantastic (and not just because we were starving) ... a little spicy and I think I might tone it down a bit, but it was definitely something I want to try. I first, will need to get a pressure cooker, although he said the same recipe would work in the oven. However, a pressure cooker on my Christmas list sounds good.
Okay we hadn't had enough (although I'm sure those of you reading this wish I had so that I'd end this novel), not to mention I didn't even bring my book with me nor my gifts for Alton (had planned on the book signing) so ... we left and went back to the Hotel. On the way we stopped at the gas station right beside the hotel and the car wouldn't start back - hey Shawn in reference to you running out of film. .. Murphy's Law was with us too. We immediately called AAA and an hour later the guy came and gave us a jump - it turned out we needed a new battery. It's now 6:15 and off we go to K-Mart. My sweet husband dashes in, gets a battery, screwdrivers, & wrenches, changes the battery and we hold our breath as we attempt to restart the car. It starts and we are on our way. Hubby drops me off right in front of the store and goes to find a parking space. We were next to last in a line (if you want to call it a line), BUT WE WERE THERE!! My husband joins me in line and after a few moments I discover I have my book in the backpack, but not the gifts ... so ... once again ... the wonderful man saves the day and dashes back to the car to retrieve them.
At last we're at the signing table. Alton extends his hand to me, introduces himself I try to breath and tell him my name at the same time ... I then started to give him the gifts, but he pauses for a moment and looks and my husband and says and "You're ...??" He then jokes "... Oh she just forgets all about you standing here" and Hubby jokes "yes she would with YOU standing there". Alton was incredibly nice and VERY FUNNY! He signed two cards I brought for my kids - To Bryan: Don't run with knives. To Melissa: Sorry you couldn't make it. He signed our book "May the food be with you" I gave him some fresh rosemary from my home garden, a small cookbook that details famous recipes from NC Plantations & other famous places (I.e. The Governor's Mansion), and the most important thing I brought for him, a piece of pottery I made last year. It was my favorite and best piece and I told him I was a wanna-be potter. He said "No - if you were a wana-be potter this would be a hunk of clay - but it is a pot, and a nice one; therefore, you should say you are a potter". He posed for a picture with me. Just before I stepped away I told him how much I love his show, plan the night around it, and LOVE THE LAUGHS!!! Of course, later, there were things I wished I had said & done - not to mention not forgetting my husband was standing next to me :-) My husband assured me, however, if I had tried to say more, Alton might have thought ... okay girl ... enough is enough. I'm sure all you reading this are thinking that about now!!!!
On a final note, we took a lot of pictures during the demo at the Biltmore. I'm not exactly sure how to post them here, so if someone wants to tell me how to do that, I'll be happy to after I get them developed. I also taped the entire demo. Other than the side of the head of the man who moved into the center of the aisle - front row - just before the show started, the tape is outstanding!!!! I'm sooooooo glad I have it, but have promised my hubby I won't make him watch it OVER AND OVER.
|I've decided to no longer maintain book signing reports. Sorry for the
Last Edited on 08/27/2010