Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bubbly, Birds, Balthazar and Breakfasts aka Slightly After Coffee

On the 21st of September, Vincent and I met in person for the first time, at Newark International Airport, where he flew from Vancouver BC to have a cup of coffee with me. He had written in an early email to me that if we lived closer he would ask me out for coffee or a glass of wine. I said he could ask me out for coffee, anyway. So he did. Then flew across the continent and passed through customs to buy it for me.

We talked about it as we walked home last night, five days and a lifetime after the coffee, on Henry Street from Al di La, where we had had dinner.

...and earlier, on the Lower East Side, at 'inoteca, where we were having a lunchtime glass of prosecco each. We were just reaching the end of those when the waiter reappeared as though telepathic, with the bottle. Instead of allowing us to order more he said, "A gentleman inside would like to buy you both another glass..."


We wanted to know who the "gentleman" was and what he wanted. The waiter disappeared again. At last, through the open window of the restaurant, a familiar, curly head popped out, Benigni-like, smiled widely and waved, "Ciao!"

Emiliano! Owner of Al di La, my favourite restaurant in the world, which I have not frequented much of late, but which has seen me through my whole New York evolution, since 1999, when I first discovered it in Park Slope. Somehow it and he and Anna's cooking have seen me through the wars, and I have felt that they must keep track of who I'm with and why (and why???, and huh?). Only that morning I'd been saying to Vince that I'd like to eat there with him. It's a lovely place, and he the loveliest man, and I wanted the two to meet.

So to have Emiliano, who was having his own lunch with his chef-wife Anna and son Sasha, see us and send us that bottle of prosecco, soon to be bubbles in our perpetually smiling mouths, was like a blessing from the pope. Only much-much better because I have never wanted to be blessed by any pope.

It topped for me, an almost endless series of coincidences and fortuities that have accompanied this madly out-of-time relationship beween me and Vince: as of today, if you count the very first contact between us, via a comment on his blog, we have known about each other for two months.

So after the obligatory cup of coffee to test the waters, and a whirlwind five-and-a-half-days, I have learned a few things:

Frenchmen fetch croissants for breakfast.
Canadians find fall in New York unbearably hot.
Vince is really tall.
Movies do come true.
Beer tastes good at the yacht basin with a strong breeze off the Hudson.
Not all waitresses are French.
When Vince points his camera at you he doesn't want to steal your soul.
You're allowed to dip your croissant into the coffee.
New Jersey deserves more respect.
There are jumping fish in the Gowanus Canal at night.
When cab drivers and park rangers see you are in love they don't get mad at you.
Never eat grouper.
Peeing in your wetsuit does not keep you warm.
Ask for what you want. Then stick around.

"Necessity knows no magic formulae - they are all left to chance. If a love is to be unforgettable, fortuities must immediately start fluttering down to it like birds to Francis of Assisi's shoulders."

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

...this bird (nut hatch?) was in a hawthorne in the DUMBO Park. So small and pretty.

Grey Goose martinis at Balthazar.

Vincent plus Balthazar plus green olives plus martini.

A balanced lunch.

There may be no greater gift to one than the heart of the other's croissant.

Croissants inside.

Croissants outside on the terrace, and the art of the dip...

And finally, getting down to serious stuff:

Two cats talking. Mano a gato.

I believe that seals the deal.


  1. Having seriously feared for my life under this avalanche of compliments and sweet things, I’ll get us a Saint Bernard ;-) and would also like to make a few comments:

    - Fall isn’t the only thing in NY that's hot;

    - I decline all responsibility regarding the wetsuit theory; experiment at your own risk;

    - Never, indeed, eat grouper; I'll repost the two Little Cayman grouper interviews soon, to melt any remaining doubts one might have;

    - The art of dipping the croissant is simple: don’t drop it!

    - The martinis were shaken, not stirred; but frankly, do we look like we gave a damn? ;-)

    Kundera: nice! And as opposed to the birds of our saint, fortuities don't involve guano! ;-)

  2. You're quite right, the bowls of coffee were pretty hot...

    Do you think people in New York would pay attention if I got on the subway wearing a wetsuit that dripped a little? No, I guess not.

    I must get the latest Bond movie from Netflix and watch it again.

    Yeah, Kundera. Why did I keep saying Nabokov???

    Guano is very good for gardens. But, yes, I hadnt thought of that.

  3. Sorry to step into the dialogue but I beg to differ. Peeing in a wetsuit, although not very hygienic, is the most warming sensation in the world.
    NOT that I EVER did it of course...


  4. Brigitte!


    I have to admit that, back in the day, I may have peed in a wetsuit or two. My own of course. But I was young and foolish. And WARM.

  5. Marie..
    Came across your blog via one of those virtual accidents, as one does. This gave me warm shivers and cold shivers. I have a similar story, but mine diverges partly into the realm of twisted drama. I'm enthralled and heartened to read that there are times and places and hearts where the romance - rather than the horror - does really unfold and come true. I'd love to write a book about it all. Compliments on a gorgous blog.

  6. gorgeous. not gorgous. grr.

  7. Hi Lisa, and thank you for the gorgous and gorgeous blog :-)

    I think we were just lucky...I'm sorry you had a bad experience...I've had one of those too, long ago. We can only learn, and learn about ourselves. And be glad that we've moved on.


Comments on posts older than 48 hours are moderated for spam.