Things that make me happy: Stags Above Fire

Stag head decor at Altura Restaurant in Seattle, WA

So I spent a big chunk of last week in Seattle on business. Since I’m affiliated with the food industry, “business” included a lot of eating, and a lot of really good eating at that. One of the best meals I’ve had in a long time was at Altura, a fairly new restaurant located in the Capitol Hill area. The food blew me away — every dish was incredible! — but I loved the decor almost as much.

My favorite piece was this miniature iron stag head that rested above a candle nestled into a brick wall. It took me until the next morning (I had an awful lot of wine with my 15-course dinner) to realize that it was a play on a stag head mounted above a fireplace. I loved it even more after that. I mean, really — how awesome is this?!

Things that make me smile: fluffy cats without a care

My name is Gus Gus and I do what I want.

My cats, like all cats I’m sure, are obsessed with eating. They will eat just about anything, but I think they appreciate a change in diet just as much as the next person. So this picture is an example of a fairly routine thing that happens in our house — a torn open bag of new cat food, even though there is plenty of the old food still in the dish.

I guess I understand — since we tend to buy food in the big Costco bags, they eat the same thing for extended time periods. Occasionally we’ll have to supplement with a small bag from the grocery store and when we do, it’s like keeping cookies away from children.

What I like best about this picture is the expression Gus Gus has on his face — he knows he’s been busted but, again like most cats, he just doesn’t care.

Gratuitous Food Pic: Reubens at Katz’s Delicatessen

“I’ll have what she’s having…”

Last year, around this time, I flew to NYC with my husband to help him prepare a dinner at The James Beard House. We spent most of the trip in the kitchen cooking but luckily the day after the dinner we had a few hours to explore the city.

Our first stop of the afternoon was Katz’s Deli, known as the location for the infamous scene in When Harry Met Sally as well as for its amazing sandwiches. I have never been a fan of the Reuben before — I don’t like rye bread, I despise Thousand Island dressing and I have never been big on corned beef.

But this was by far the most amazing sandwich I have ever tasted. The meat was incredibly tender and flavorful, and even though it wasn’t griddled (which seems to be the norm), it still blew every Reuben I’ve tried out of the water.

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Things that make me happy!

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Seeing the first ladybug of spring!

I have had a thing for ladybugs ever since my college dorm room was infested with them sophomore year. It was such a weird thing to have happen but slowly, over a course of a few days, about 50 of them congregated in a corner of the room. It was fun for a couple of weeks, but finally I had to call maintenance to remove them because they were creeping me out. (I did make sure they weren’t harmed in the process.)

Even after all of that, I still get excited when I spot them in my garden. They are just irresistably cute!

Confession Time — My kitty is a peeping tomcat

Things that make me laugh: that my cat is nosier than I am

I’ve mentioned before that my neighbors are crazy, like absolutely bat-shit crazy. I have no idea what goes on over there, but every day I hope they get evicted. Until that happens, I remain glued to my windows, surreptitiously spying on them.

But I’m in good company. Whenever they are outside, in the midst of a mid-day screaming match, Lucifer is right next to me. And since he’s a cat, he doesn’t have to worry about maintaining a sense of decorum.

Luckily, in my household, curiosity has never killed a cat!

Please allow me to take you to my happy place…

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I decided to start 2 new categories today:

1. Gratuitous Food Pictures: I have a ton of awesome pictures of food I didn’t make and some are so pretty that I feel compelled to share them show them off. Since I’m not going to start reviewing dishes or restaurants (this isn’t Yelp after all), I’m just to going to post them as single images with a basic descriptor and (when applicable) a handy little link in case you also dream of eating them…

Shall we take a look at an example?

Soft-shell crab BLT — fried crab, tempura lemon slices, bacon, basil puree and tarragon with some smoked aioli just because… — The Gilt Club

Easy enough. Ok. Great. Now moving along to the second category.

2. Things that make me happy: Some really random things just make me happy. They certainly don’t require a rambling blog post. They need something short and sweet. Like this for example…

I can’t really explain the story behind this but I see it almost every day.

And there you have it — it’s really just that easy.