Do you know Annabel Langbein or are you familiar with her cookbooks?
In Holland she's still upcoming as a famous cook, which I think is totally out of place due to the fact that she's a very succesfull self-made businesswoman who absolutely loves what she does; cooking en gardening.
Beside that, she's written 19 cookbooks (!) and has a 'free range' life philosophy that she shares with her audience in her succesfull tv-shows and books. She also manages and owns the brand 'Annabel Langbein' (sort of like Jamie Oliver).
Her books are being sold all over the world, in 93 countries and she is the biggest cooking export product of New Zealand in selling over 2 million books. Quite an achievement don't you think?!
Last year she sold her book 'The Free Range Cook' here in Holland, which was a bestseller. Maybe that rings a bell?
And you know what?
I'm in the privileged position to meet and greet with her.
Yes, that's right, I have been invited to dine with Annabel Langbein for the press release off her new book 'Food And Fun'!
How cool is that?!
You might think I'm overreacting a bit right now, but I'm a real fan of Annabel.
If you google her, you might be persuaded to have the same feeling. Take a look at her videos on you tube and interviews on the internet.
I think she is so normal, spontanious and smart (you should look up the lecture about managing your own company, here).
She has a charming and clever personality, just some of the characteristics why I'm dying to meet her.
So after googling Annabel all day long, I know a thing or two about her.
I've learned what her favorite food is, about her career and even a few of her jokes that she (accidently?) repeats in several interviews. Oops!
She used to be a hippie who loved being in nature, growing her own vegetables and shoot animals.
I wonder what is left of the former hippie. When I look at Annabel I can see a glimpse of a former hippie, that always has perfecly manicured fingernails (in lovely colours!).
What can I say, as a yournalist it's very important to research your subject, right?
Besides, it gives me enough inspiration about to the questions I would like to ask her...
This is it! I'm making my way to the bookstore De Vries in Haarlem feeling quite a bit nervous.
And there she is. I recoqnise her smile from a million miles away.
She's so... normal. And short. I imagined her taller in real life.
We shake hands en we talk a bit. This is a great opportunity to ask some of my questions and take a picture with her.
The setting of the whole party looks nice, they've created some sort of indoor backyard with outdoor picknick tables and lovely looking napkins and plates, the kind that would look perfect in a New Zealand backyard.
Lovely cocktails and small bites are being served, all from Annabel's new book.
Annabel kicks off and welcomes everybody. She also tells about her new book. After that the dinner starts and she mingles with the crowd.
And you know what? During dinner I'm seated next to her. How fun!
I get the chance to talk with her and ask more of my questions.
How does she manage to maintain here vegetablegarden, being so busy with all the other things?
The answer is simple; right now it's winter in New Zealand and the garden doesn't need any maintenance. There is snow right now, so nothing can be sawn. During winter she always travels around the world and when spring arrives, she's back to start gardening again.
Why didn't she write any books with a theme about a different country, besides the book about Italy?
She travels around the world so often, that is where here inspiration comes from. Beside the free range theme, which is the golden thread throughout her books, she uses her inspiration from other countries in her complete way of cooking and her new recipes.
Besides that, the New Zealand cuisine is a melting pot of different cultures.
The last week Annabel has been touring throughout the country. Did she get to spend some free time in Holland and what was the food like?
Unfortunately she didn't have much time to see a lot of the country.
However, tomorrow her holiday begins! She's going to Turkey to sail on a turkish gullet and she's looking forward to it.(Also to the turkish food, tzaziki with dille in it!)
The food in Holland was okay. She's eaten some nice things, but also very bad things.
What does she think about dutch cuisine?
Luckilly, the last few years it gets better and more modern. The food has more variety. She's not a fan of traditional dutch cooking because it's quite fat and a bit boring. That also goes for German food. I agree with her.
What does she think about bringing new things on the market, beside cookbooks?
It's funny I ask because at the moment she's launching new products in New Zealand.
She's going to sell bags of seeds to grow vegetables and also a very handy tool for the vegetable garden, an insectcatcher.
Unfortunately the products will only be sold in New Zealand.
Other things she's doing at the moment?
She's going to the United States. There will be new cookingshows and she's planning to expand her brand. She will stay there for about a year to do that.
The new cookingshow won't be broadcasted in Holland unfortunately.
Any good tips when you start growing your own vegetables?
You should try rocket. It's foolproof and will grow and grow. When you cut it, it will grow back. It's very easy to do!
Annabel and I seem to agree on several things. We both think cooking should be about fun and stressfree. The arty things and uptight way of cooking in tv-shows like Masterchef are definitely not the way to do that. It gives us the creeps! She emphasises the fact that she wants to be a cook instead of being a chef.
Annabel, I hear you!
She also likes my philosophy to keep learning about food and trying out new things. I try to create one or two new things a week, mostly out of a cookbook. Very good! Continue to do that, she says.
When Annabel and I (and the other guests, ofcourse) are talking we're enjoying lovely food and wine.
The wine is from Villa Maria, a New Zealand wine. Annabel knows it from home and she takes af few pics with her cellphone.
I like the wines. But this is unusual; my Merlot has bubbles in it.
The food all comes from the new book.
It's moslty small bites en salades. I enjoy them and I can't wait to look into the new book.
(I absolutly love the pepper relish with garlic, the fritata and mini pita with lamb) Yum!
After dinner we all go to the café across the street and everybody gets a copy of Annabels new 'Food And Fun' cookbook.
Annabel is sweet enough to sign our books but by now she's looking quite tired.
I can imagine. But she keeps on smiling and is flawlesly nice to everybody.
I feel a bit sorry for her, it's like when you throw a birthday party; you have to entertain everyone, keep on smiling and you don't have time to finish your own meal or cup of tea.She must be exhausted by now.
Annabels husband Ted doesn't seem tired at all. He still chit-chats with everybody.
At first I didn't realise it was er husband. I imagined Annabells husband completly different. He reminds me of someone I used to know, 'Dennis-handsome', except older and with glasses.
When I quickly wander through the pages of the new book, I'm allready excited about it. It looks nice and inspirational and a summery book.
I'll write a review on this book some time soon!
The evening has gone by too quickly. I really enjoyed it and would have liked to talk longer with Annabel.
Or even better, I would have wanted to come with her to her fabulous house and garden at Lake Wanakain New Zealand. We would have a lovely time talking over food and cooking together!
On the other hand, that's not such a good idea. At the moment it's cold in New Zealand. With lots of snow as mentioned by her!
Annabel wants my businesscard (ofcourse you can have it, Annabel!) and I promiss her to write this article in English, especially for her.
I've had a lovely time (like being on a nice birthday party with great food and people).
Thanks everybody; bookstore De Vries, publisher Unieboek/ Spectrum and Annabel!