charlie-14tableMy name is Farleys D Destino Del Lago, but friends call me Charlie.

Being a puppy of a certain age has been challenging. There is this “potty outside” thing that is constantly being hammered into my being - not to mention sit, stay, off, no bark, and hearing my name, “Charlie” said as though I was in really deep trouble…(something about humping… ?)  I guess you all know the drill.

But, tonight the education came to fruition; I went to my first restaurant where I finally got it.  And, I had a date with a little cutie named Lucy, not to mention Comely Sonja - the hostess that greeted us. Wow.  She made me feel most welcome among all the ‘beautiful’ people.  Did I say we dined en plein air (Hey I am a poodle puppy…  French Poodle puppy)

Apparently, this was no everyday kinda place - this was Daniel Boulud’s famous Café Boulud at the Brazilian Court in Palm Beach and they love, LOVE dogs!  Chef Jim Leiken (who came down from New York’s Daniel) has created a dog friendly cuisine with such items as, for example, an 8oz prime beef patty (they hold the bun and onion) and little lemon Madeleine Cookies with just a hint of yummy powdered sugar).

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trevi.jpgThe wives were off to the local terme- a natural hot springs spa in the town of Spello – for soaking, facials, massages, etc. This was an excursion for the group known as “Umbrian Girls Go Wild” – a disparate, dissolute organization made up of various wives and non-wives, who get together at odd times during the year to do odd things.

Because the women needed to take a few cars, the eminent Don Michele di Sicilia and myself were left with only one car between us for the day. We offered to shop and cook dinner for our spouses after their soak, and this led to one of the longest afternoons of my life.

Everyone in the town of Trevi knows Don Michele. Everyone. So what would have been a brief stop in the coffee store in Borgo Trevi, became an hour of rumination, gesticulation, exaggeration and flirtation from the eminent Don Michele. I almost forgot to buy coffee.

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grapefruit_white.jpgMany, many years ago there was an older man who came to our store pretty much weekly for about nine or ten years. He wasn't all that talkative, he came with a plan and left with all the things on his list and always 12 small white grapefruit. Not much conversation, not even any dialoge about the weather, even if it had rained every day in June. Things never changed. He always smelled of mothballs and pipe tobacco. Monk wore old Hathaway wool shirts, real cotton khaki trousers, leather and rubber L.L. Bean boots half laced up and we never saw him without a pipe in his mouth filled with unburned tobacco.  He drove a large old pale yellow Ford Squire station wagon that looked retired from his other home in Connecticut. He came on the same day every week at roughly the same time.

We never saw him with anyone, but some weeks his grocery basket was heavier than other weeks and he would be downright grouchy, usually around the beginning of August. We could tell by his cantankerous attitude that he had family coming to visit.  There is no stopping anyone from visiting friends or family in Maine the first couple weeks of August even if they aren't that fond of each other. My sister and I were sure to have the freshest grapefruit awaiting him because he wasn't shy about telling you the following week that "they were getting a little dry" and his tone could be quite unpleasant.

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magazines11.jpgFor a long time, I wasn’t writing because I was swept away by a passion that completely eclipsed my love of food and cooking. There’s something about losing weight that makes me start thinking about clothes again. I speak not of the utilitarian Mom Garb that tends to be stretchy and sexless, and purchased for the dual purposes of comfort and covering up body parts which are too awful even to contemplate. I mean fashion. I mean I start reading “Vogue,” and “Allure,” and “InStyle” and (my personal favorite) “Lucky” and scheming about where to get a faux Chanel jacket and whether I can get away with a pair of the 4-inch Gladiator shoes  that are essential for the transition from summer to fall this season. I cooked, I worked, I kept my kid in clean Abercrombie jeans, but my mind was usually far off in the land of boyfriend cardigans and vintage Diane von Furstenburg wrap dresses. I had nothing to write, unless it concerned the preparation of food that would not leave a stain on a Prada jacket, or how to pick an outfit and accessories to coordinate with one’s dinner. (Hint: a large Mabe pearl ring is a delightful tongue in chic accompaniment to a plate of oysters on the half shell).

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ImageRecently at my dentist's office I told one of the assistants that she looked great. Her skin glowed, her hair bounced and her body looked lean and firm. "Thanks. I'm killing myself doing that P90X program," she said.

Oh. P90X. In case you haven't heard of it, it's an intensive (some think masochistic) home exercise program that relies on cross-training: a mix of cardio, strength training, yoga, and stretching. As for the diet, it's high protein and low-to-no carbs. Think skinless chicken and egg whites. If you even fantasize about pasta or potatoes, you need to drop and do 50 push-ups.

The assistant added, "You should see my husband though. He has lost 12 pounds in two weeks. He looks amazing!"

"He's doing the P90X too?" I asked.

"No. He's on the soup diet," she said.

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