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When I started blogging some years ago (whoa), I didn’t really intend for it to be anything other than a cure for boredom. And every now and then I would get an email about a new product or someone with a question… and then I got an email from the Dude. The Dude, as I had come to know much later on, would send me lengthy emails telling me about all these wonderful places he had gone to eat. And in typical “ME” fashion, I would read them, take note, write a thank you email back and that would be the end of it.

Then I went through a breakup and wrote about it on this very blog. And hours after it went live, an email was sent from the Dude with words of encouragement and an offer to talk it out if I needed to.

I needed to.

And so began, probably, the most meaningful friendship I have yet to experience that started via the world wide web. There was something so freeing about our emails and yet so terrifying; we shared such personal things with each other! One thing we had in common was our deep love for food and food is what brought us together. A year after our email exchange began, we decided to meet in person.

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From there, the rest, as they say is history. We had dinner together all the time. We tried new restaurants together. We cooked together. We cooked for each other.

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We talked about our dating lives (my horror stories and his positively upbeat stories) and were there for each other when we needed to be (like when he made me watch How I Met Your Mother and I made him watch Parks and Recreation).

He was there when I made my first macaron.

He was there when I botched my first batch of pasteles.

He even came out on my 27th birthday to do Karaoke!

He’s my bud.

Obviously, I am not writing this sappy post just for the sake of his awesomeness… but, for the record, he is very awesome- as this post goes live, one of my closest friends will be en route to California. To live.

As in Across the country.

As in No Longer a train ride away to grab some dinner…

His move is for a fantastic job opportunity that makes me sick with excitement and sadness at the same time. But on the bright side of things, I have just another reason to visit California… and he happens to be moving rather close to my West Coast Counterpart (Hi Carol!!)

To celebrate his tremendous achievement, the Dude saw no better way to say goodbye than to cook a drool worthy feast for some of the people that mean most to him.

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Yup, Me! This is probably the only photo I have of us in which he is smiling. But of course, I look cross-eyed. SIGH.

Next to the Dude is my gorgeous yelp Wife Julia. We were all dinner partying in style.

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The Dude, ever the amazing host, served up a delicious plate of salumi and cheeses. Once we all introduced ourselves to each other (because I never met any of his other friends before) we dove into the platter with much enthusiasm.

MMMM. Meats and Cheeses.

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The Dude’s cousin whipped up some delicious apple martini’s for us to get drunk on and lose our inhibitions. The only thing I lost was my self control when I got choked up during the toast.

Must. Not. Cry.

The cutest thing ever was when my boyfriend showed up at the dinner party and when they saw each other they exchanged an excited “HEY!” as if they were old friends. Others looked on and asked if they knew each other.

Nope. But they do now.

I speak very fondly of my men… so the bromance is blossoming.

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No sooner than I swallowed my martini and my stupid tears, the first course came out. Shots of mushroom soup. Velvety. Creamy. Mushroomy. It was a great start… well, really the Salumi was the great start, but whatever.

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The shooter was followed by the Dude’s obsession. RAMPS. When I see ramps on a menu, I think of the Dude. He literally goes apeshit for ramps, AKA a RAMPage (seewhatididthere?) He whipped up some ramp butter that had a pleasant kick to it and added some thinly sliced radishes with sea salt on a toasted baguette. Minus the ramps, this is one of my favorite snacks to make at home. 

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Pretty soon, the martini’s were wearing off so I had to drink beer to keep the buzz going and the Dude set out this banging pot of braised short ribs.

All together now: “OOOOOOOOOH!”

I had 2 helpings.

My boyfriend, 3.

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Rustic smashed potatoes.

Amazing.

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Mushrooms and carrots. Cooked in meat drippings!

SHUT UP!

Who knew carrots could be so good?

When you make carrots taste like meat, they will never taste bad.

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Arugula salad. We keep shit balanced around here! And it was a great addition to the rich short ribs and Nummy potatoes.

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My first plate.

After dinner we all schmoozed a bit and talked about how we knew the Dude. As we shared stories, I found it incredibly heartwarming to know that we had all heard about each other in some way or another.

Our story is so unique and I often forget that we met via the internet but was so flattered when they realized I was “the blogger” and say OOOOOH, the Dude showed us your blog!

…and they are probably reading this right now.

But they probably aren’t getting choked up like I am…

Or maybe they are.

I don’t know. Hi New Friends!

But just when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite, he went and blew our minds with this ginormous mousse.

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A Hazelnut Nutella Mousse to be exact.

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It was addicting. My non chocolate eating boyfriend (I know, wtf?) devoured this rather quickly.

With my belly full of deliciousness, we took one final photo as a group:

I stole this picture (and several others) from Facebook, btw. Thanks Amanda.

It was an amazing day. One that I will cherish for always. A day that someone special brought several strangers together with amazing food and great stories. The beauty of food. Its ability to create memories. 

Now the adventure really begins as we embark on our journeys and start that next phase of our friendship…

the part where we brag about who had a better dinner over skype. (I am almost certain he is going to win more than I will…)

Goodbye See you later, Dude! xoxoxox

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