Talk about taking your food to go. Premiering with a double episode this Friday, Jan. 12, at 9 pm/ET, on Food Network, Giada's Weekend Getaways finds the fabulously photogenic host of Everyday Italian hitting some of our country's most divine destinations, planning out for the viewer the idyllic combination of food, drink and fun. TVGuide.com invited Giada De Laurentiis to serve up some savory (sound) bites.
TVGuide.com: That is some smile you've got. My cheeks were aching after watching a half hour of ya!
Giada De Laurentiis: [Laughs] You know, I've had little kids at my book signings ask me if my cheeks hurt from smiling. It's hilarious.
TVGuide.com: You just possess a very happy disposition?
De Laurentiis: You know what? I'm pretty lucky to be doing what I love to do, so I guess so!
TVGuide.com: As my boss at the scoop shop used to say, "Ice cream is a happy time."
De Laurentiis: [Laughs] Food Network is a happy time, too, I guess.
TVGuide.com: What hole is Giada's Weekend Getaways filling in the Food Network schedule?
De Laurentiis: This show is like a chronological guide for a weekend vacation, so it starts on Friday evening, the bulk of the show is Saturday, and then it ends early afternoon on Sunday. On Friday we usually start with some sort of cocktail and a light dinner or appetizer. Saturday, we start with some kind of breakfast , an activity or a sight, then lunch, an activity or sight, and then dinner. Dinner on Saturday night is usually the big splurge — that's when we dress up and go out. Sunday is some brunch-breakfast/activity type of thing.
TVGuide.com: I love me some Sunday brunch.
De Laurentiis: The difference with this show is that it incorporates everything that you really would do on a weekend trip. Not just where to go for breakfast-lunch-dinner, but all the activities and sights.
TVGuide.com: Let's talk about some of the activities. In one episode I see you're fishing.
De Laurentiis: In South Beach I jet ski, and I salsa dance. Or, I try to salsa dance.
TVGuide.com: Yeah, I was wondering about your choice of shoes for that. Those big, clunky foam sandals....
De Laurentiis: [Laughs] You know... if you've ever seen my travel shows, I wear those shoes a lot. No, they're not the most attractive, but I love them, and they're comfortable! I also go horseback riding, which was one of my favorite things to do as a kid. There's some hiking, sailing in Newport, Rhode Island.... Bike riding in Napa Valley, from winery to winery, after a couple of glasses of wine — big mistake! [Laughs] I made some pottery in Santa Fe, which was really wonderful.
TVGuide.com: And then you ate out of it?
De Laurentiis: Uh, I did not, no. It's a process, making pottery. You can't just go home with it.
TVGuide.com: No, you have to put it in a kiln and then, like, hope the kiln doesn't explode.
De Laurentiis: Correct.
TVGuide.com: Did your husband go with you for these jaunts? Is he always somewhere off-camera, eating his meal off a card table in the kitchen?
De Laurentiis: He went on two of them — Cabo, because he's an avid surfer, and obviously L.A., because we live in Los Angeles. It's not as glamorous as people think. I work long hours, so for him to just stand there and get me coffee and hold my bag, that's probably not the right combination for a good marriage!
TVGuide.com: My wife and I are heading to South Beach this spring. What restaurants did Getaways hit?
De Laurentiis: We go to Casa Tua, which is one of my favorite Italian restaurants there. It's kind of off the beaten path because it's not on the strip, and it looks like a house and they don't have a sign. I had the risotto with truffles, but if you don't want to indulge that much, they have homemade ravioli with different fillings every day. Their fresh pastas are to die for!
TVGuide.com: Have you ever been to Prime 112? With the French fries made with truffle oil? Oh my....
De Laurentiis: Everything's got truffle oil these days. The other one I like there is Joe's Stone Crab. I did the takeout, because the line for a table can be an hour long. Plus you can then eat it on the beach. That's a fun thing to do.
TVGuide.com: I found on your website the answer to one of my questions: How you, as one of these Food Network people, maintain a nice figure while indulging in the country's best mini- cheeseburgers, crab cakes and the like. You credit "genetics, portion control and fresh ingredients" — to which I say, "Yeah, right."
De Laurentiis: A little activity doesn't hurt. And working out, that doesn't hurt, either. I wish I could get to the gym as much as I used to, but the No. 1 secret is portion control. Honestly, it's about what you put in your mouth.
TVGuide.com: So, you take your bite or two of mini-cheeseburger, and once the camera stops rolling you walk away?
De Laurentiis: I walk away. I might take another bite — like on Everyday Italian I take a few bites too many, because it's my own food and I really enjoy it. But when I go out to eat, whether or not it's an entrée, I always ask for an appetizer-size portion, because if I love that dish I cannot stop after a certain amount. I will want to finish it.
TVGuide.com: And if the waiter balks, you say, "I'm Giada, dammit. Give me what I want, or Food Network will take you down."
De Laurentiis: [Laughs] Whether you're Giada De Laurentiis, Rachael Ray or anybody else, waiters these days rarely say no to the paying customer. If you ask nicely, blink a couple times and smile, you're good!
Hungry for 24 scoop? Kiefer Sutherland offers an exclusive look at the new season in the Jan. 15 issue of TV Guide, now on newsstands.
Send your comments on this Q&A to email@example.com.