When my friend Paula Disbrowe lived in New York City, she lived indulgently and admirably. When you went to a bar with her, she drank real drinks. There were the sidecars at Brasserie 8 1/2, Champagne cocktails at Verbena and mint juleps at Ciel Rouge. She was Rosalind Russell mixed with Marilyn Monroe, and she dressed the part: strappy shoes; dresses with low, swooping necklines; a dash of pink on her lips.
Formerly a professional cook, she'd become a food writer who traveled to places like Scotland and Tahiti for work. On the side, she tended bar at a popular downtown restaurant called Prune, where she wore baby T-shirts and took on the nickname Dixie. She was the consummate city girl.
Then one day Paula announced she was moving to Texasto a ranch, no less. She and her boyfriend, David Norman, who was the baker at Manhattan's Bouley Bakery, were going to become the chefs at Hart & Hind fitness ranch, a spa 90 miles west of San Antonio.