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This meatball came from Filippi's Pizza Grotto in Napa. It cost $4. I now owe my coworker $4.

This meatball is by far the biggest meatball I have ever seen. (Have you seen one larger? This was the size of my fist.) They had to cut the top off to fit it in the takeout tray.

This meatball took 10 minutes to eat. And I ate the whole thing. And I am supposed to be "mostly" vegetarian, with exceptions made only for seafood. (Because I could catch a fish. Because I wouldn't feel guilty doing it.)

They say cravings are caused by absence.

"Your body is missing something," they say. "Your body wants to make up for it."


I am trying to listen.


February is the month of birthdays. This weekend, we celebrated Jessica -- booked a limo and went wine-tasting in Sonoma. Of course, sparkling wine and strawberries were involved. And there were cone-shaped paper hats with the words "Happy Fucking Birthday!" printed all over them. There was picture-taking and posing. And the photos got blurrier as the day wore on.

Tonight we celebrate another friend. We are taking Brian to L'Amour Dans Le Four because there will be a nice French meal and good wine and a server who tells us stories about how her 5-year-old daughter just loves -- loves! -- escargot.

I am wearing my new favorite dress ($2 from the thrift store) and my brown tights. I resisted eating the chips in the breakroom.

I am hungry. I am thirsty. I am ready to celebrate.

yesterday, the Gold Spike served its last meal

The first time I went to the Gold Spike, there were five of us. We sat at the round table in the back, beneath the glass eyes of stuffed animal heads. There was the plastic red-and-white checked tablecloth, the dollar bills pinned to the ceiling so long they had turned black, the sound of voices coming from the kitchen. We drank much Chianti and savored the minestrone soup -- "Just like home food!" we exclaimed as we held our spoons.

We talked about our futures, what we hoped would come next.

I remember thinking, I will move to this city.

sharp edges

The cat has a split personality. In the kitchen, he's calm and sweet and sleeps in my lap.

But once we let him out into the main room, all hell breaks loose.

He thinks dust bunnies are toys.

We have to bleach the futon mattress.

He has forced us to (finally) throw out our Christmas tree.

I doubt I will ever have children.

another mouth to feed.

He likes Nutro brand dry food. He loves toys with feathers. He lets you rub his belly. He purrs so loudly that his fur almost vibrates.

We're bringing him home tonight.

I am so excited.

homemade nacho fries

Oh, he's amazing.

today's love story, brought to you by a bag of cereal.


There is a boy and another boy, and they live across the world from each other. They fly long distances to be together for only a few days -- once a month, once every two months. They have matching shoes. They celebrate anniversaries. They glow when they are together.

We glow when we see them.

The grocery store on the other side of the world offered frequent flyer miles for every bag of cereal purchased.

Imagine -- just imagine -- how many bags were bought.

Happy Valentine's Day -- here's to impossibility and chance and imported granola.


The last bottle of Cakebread Chardonnay was in the recycling bin. The rain had stopped. It was Saturday, and the visiting friends confessed they had never been to Napa.

So we armed ourselves with a large baguette and went north.

The wineries: Darioush, Clos Du Val, Cakebread, Grgich Hills. With a (long) pause in between to load our baguette with cheese, olives and chipotle hummus at Oakville Grocery. And there was chocolate at Woodhouse. And artichoke white truffle tapenade at Olivier. And vegetarian dolmas, seared scallops and a warm chocolate souffle at Zare.

It was so worth the food coma.


I lived in Virginia for two years and never once went wine-tasting. I was in grad school. I drank a lot of beer. I ate a lot of lentils because they were only 89 cents a bag and extremely easy to prepare. I didn't sleep much.

I left Virginia in 2003 and haven't used my degree since. In fact, I don't like telling people I have it because of the questions that automatically follow.

"Do you still --- ?"
"Why not --- ?"
"Will you ever --- ?"

Who knows, I don't know, I don't want to commit.

I don't want to fail.

Last night I had Virginia wine for the first time. It was a White Hall Vineyards 2003 Cab Franc, sent by a friend who also sent pictures of her writing studio, a small shed surrounded by trees with leaves that turn red and orange and gold in October. (If there is one thing I miss most about Virginia, it is the color.)

The wine was soft -- which, I believe, is characteristic of Cab Franc -- and very fruity without being jammy or overwhelming. Lots of red fruit and a long finish.

We had it with fish (yes, more fish -- and no, the wine wasn't overpowering in the least). Baked skate wing seasoned with freshly-ground pepper, fennel leaves, rosemary, thyme, sage, lemon juice, onions and roasted orange bell peppers. And there was a bed of pureed potatoes. And a side of beets with lemon chutney and herbed goat cheese.

There is something so comforting about dining at home, away from other people's eyes.

the morning after

The morning after
Originally uploaded by petitgateau.
This is what the dining table looked like when I woke up yesterday: remains of the cheese course, an empty bottle of Port, a not-quite-empty bottle of Late Harvest Moscato.

And all I wanted was a very large glass of water. And for the fish smell to go away.


We are having a dinner party. I woke up at 6 a.m. today. Saturday. Dinner party. Dinner party. Dinner party. Guests at 7 p.m. Yesterday I bought two new chairs because we don't have enough at the dining table. I bought new placemats, new bowls, new plates.

Where do I go for the best fish? I hate it when the bones surprise you. My mother told me once that you could die that way: letting a bone slip. Cut you from the inside, she said.

Who knows if this is true. She said many things.

"Mixing batter makes your breasts grow. The more you mix, the bigger you become."

"Take noodles on your birthday. They will give long life."

"Your father did not eat until we got married. He also did not like to take a bath."

It is Saturday morning in San Francisco. The clouds are low; behind them, somewhere, is the Golden Gate Bridge. Tonight we are having a dinner party. The guests will come up the stairs. There will be wine and good jokes and bad jokes and good laughter. I must make the grocery list. Where to get fish? I must clear the table. I must set up the new chairs.

Obsession. The word is the same in English and French.