ImageI always know the exact moment love officially strikes me clear and hard. The world actually goes silent. I can’t help but smile. My eyes light up. And most importantly, I shut up. Because in that very moment, no matter how ridiculous it sounds, I’m rendered speechless since there’s only one truth: I’m alive and I love you and I know it and that’s all there is to it.

I fell in love last year. It’s pretty hard to shut me up but then again, I think almost everyone would become as smitten as me around this man. You know those people that make you feel like the very best version of yourself? Now imagine that person but also make them an incredible cook, a fantastic writer, a brilliant designer, a true gentleman, and too handsome for anyone’s own good in a George Clooney type of way. This isn’t a romance I’m talking about. It’s even better. When you’re having a really bad day or you’ve just returned from a long out of town trip, he’ll cook an amazing dinner for you and make you coffee and talk to you about books and art. When you’re heartbroken and nothing seems to make sense, he’ll bring dark chocolate gourmet pudding and hugs to your door and make you laugh till you cry better tears. This isn’t a joke. This is the universe showing off when it introduced me to one of my best friends. I wish everyone had their own Oualid. But fortunately and unfortunately, there’s only one of this man.

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barbaosummerrolls.jpgIn New York for a brief visit, my wife and I wanted to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary with a special dinner. After a beautiful day walking around the city, we decided to find a restaurant near where we were staying at 70th and Amsterdam. For our anniversary dinner, we wanted a restaurant where we could talk and hold hands. And we wanted a meal prepared by a chef who cared about making interesting food, but we didn't want to spend a fortune.

The New York Times said a new restaurant was opening nearby that sounded interesting, so we called. On the phone the maitre d' described the menu at Bar Bao as a "modern take on Vietnamese food." The restaurant was opening that night and luckily a table was available.

When we arrived we were greeted warmly. That friendliness continued throughout the evening. Our waiter, Matt, accommodating both Michelle's desire to be meat free and my own unrestricted eating, suggested the Vermicelli Noodles and he would bring the pork belly on the side. Rounding out the meal, we decided on the Vegetable Summer Rolls, Sizzling Cuttlefish, Bean Curd Glazed Black Cod, and Asian Eggplant.

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06-17-00_soda_jerk_sign_at_beerfest.jpg  She leans in toward me, her elbows on the counter. She is tall, blonde, and very slender. She’s wearing a tight black skirt and a white blouse open one button just past modest. A maid’s apron circles her waist. She begins to speak but I raise my hand and gesture for her to wait. I am listening to the teenage girl with the long legs and short shorts standing to the blonde’s left. She is a regular but, tonight, she wants more than usual.

“I want my pint of chocolate chip but I also need a cheese steak, to go and a regular hoagie without onions. They’re so busy at the sandwich counter, can’t you take my order?

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bartono.jpg We’d finally made it all the way to Park Slope, it was less than warm, and I’m pretty sure I had mascara on my forehead from frantically trying to fix my make-up on the subway.  You can imagine my dismay when the only boy I really wanted to see on my trip to New York wasn’t even home.  But we couldn’t just call him!  It would be much better if we ‘just happened to be in the neighborhood’.  “They can’t be far. Their car is here!” But how were we gonna kill an hour in the middle of residential nowhere in 20 degree weather?   That’s when we found it.  BAR TANO.  A little haven of happiness with pressed tin walls and a zinc bar.

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portwaterdog.jpgDear Mr. President Elect Obama,

Senator Ted Kennedy, the Lion of the Senate, had the right idea.  As he convalesced on his boat in Hyannisport I saw him beckoning to his dog Splash, a Portuguese Water Dog.

If you’ve never heard of this breed, they have a remarkable story.

Bred as working dogs, they carried messages back and forth between boats for the Portuguese fisherman. But what was even more impressive was that they were trained to herd fish into the nets and could dive under water at considerable depths to retrieve tackle and pull the nets in.

This breed is very old and although they are often mistaken for Standard Poodles, Porties (as we owners like to call them) are the source of the Poodle breed. They can be black, brown or white with either a curly coat or a wavy coat. They have hair, not fur, and that’s why we have two of them.

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