Why Dogs and Food?

Why Dogs and Food?

It's simple. Write about what you love. And what is better than dogs and food? If you are anything like me - and millions of other people - you will relate to and understand the unwavering love I have for my dogs and my passion for cooking - and eating - great food. I hope you will enjoy reading about my day to day experiences with good food and a couple of very special dogs.

Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Nine-Ten Again and Again

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."
~ Fernand Point

It was my birthday on October 12th. I usually love my birthday and all its fanfare. But this year, for some reason I was a little down when I woke up on October 12th. I don’t know why. It wasn’t a milestone birthday or anything exciting like that but I like to think that every birthday is a celebration of life and so I should be celebrating. So, I tried to lift up my chin and smile.

My coworkers wished me a happy birthday and sent emails and came by my desk to bestow their best wishes for a happy day. I so appreciate that. Then, I started getting a bunch of wonderful birthday wishes on my Facebook page and my spirits lifted a little more. My coworker and friend Erin, brought in breakfast AND took me to lunch at a nice little Thai restaurant. She made me feel special. Some of my dear friends called me and left happy birthday songs and loving birthday wishes on my voicemail. How fun this was and I can’t tell you how much it lifted me from my earlier funk.

When I got home from work, Brian had a lovely birthday present and several cards from Walter and Henry and Mac and we enjoyed some champagne on the patio. He had made reservations at the Nine-Ten restaurant in La Jolla – located in the Grande Colonial Hotel on Prospect Street.

The Nine-Ten is a small, cozy restaurant with a limited menu. That may be a problem for some if there is nothing on the menu of interest. But not for me. If the menu is too long, with tons of choices, it’s overwhelming and takes me forever to order. And so, I looked at 4 salad choices and the 6 or 8 dinner entrees and made my decision rather quickly. And for some reason, I knew it would be good. I just knew it. The pastry chef, I read, was a world-class chocolatier and even though I am not regularly a dessert eater, when I dine out, I will indulge. Especially if it is a specialty of the establishment.

The Nine-Ten has this wine-pairing option with all of their dinner choices. What this means is that the waitress will ask the diners their preference in wine and she will pair a complimenting wine with each of the courses. So, with your salad, you get a glass of wine; with your dinner - a glass of wine; and then even with your yummy chocolate dessert, you get a glass of wine or cordial. Each course has its own little ceremony. It is great fun and a great deal. And if you happen to get a good waitress who is spot on with the pairings, you are in for a fabulous dining experience!

And we did. To all of the above.

Brian ordered the Farmers Market Peach & La Quercia Prosciutto Salad that included arugula, burrata cheeses and Australian black truffle vinaigrette. I ordered the Heirloom Tomato Salad which consisted of very tasty sliced heirloom tomatoes, a mixture of melon and plums and a rice wine vinaigrette. Delicious. Then for our entrees, Brian had the grilled Rib eye steak with chanterelle mushrooms and smoked paprika aioli and I had the Port Wine braised beef short ribs with sweet corn puree. These meat dishes were so tender and so well-prepared that they melted in our mouths. We were in heaven. Both the salads and the entrees were paired with some full-bodied and spicy Cabernet and Pinot Noir.

Our desserts just had to be of the chocolate kind since it was Pastry Chef Jack Fisher’s specialty. But they even have a list of tasty cheeses and fruit if you prefer. We ordered two to share: the half-baked chocolate cake with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream and another chocolate mousse with a crispy, crunchy topping. All I can say is they tasted as delectable as described! Another glass of red wine to compliment the chocolate and we were well fed and deliriously happy with our restaurant choice.

I wrote about our very expensive less-than-perfect dinner at the Marine Room in a previous blog entry. The Marine Room may have the ocean view down pat, but they can’t hold a candle to the Nine-Ten when it comes to service, food and value. In addition to paying only half of what we paid at the Marine Room, the food was better and we didn’t even have to valet park. We will go back again and again.

Happy Birthday to me!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Do cats sometimes wish they were dogs?

"If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer." -- Alfred North Whitehead

I know this is a dog blog. But since my 18-year-old cat Mac lives in harmony with Walter and Henry, who came into the household long after Mac had established his “Top Dog” ranking in the family, I feel I have to throw in a few anecdotes that include him. And you will see why. Read on.

Mac is a funny little dude who survived under extraordinary circumstances and thrived over the past 18 and half years to say the least. He will not tolerate other cats (he wasn’t even that fond of his own brother Moukie, with whom he shared our affections for 12 years.) But once the dogs came into his life, it was a whole different story. It was as if he found another side of his inner self.

What I mean is that his behaviors changed. Instead of always walking the perimeter of the room or up on counters and the tops of chairs, he came down to the floor and walked among the dogs. Pretty soon he was sleeping among the dogs. He drinks from their water bowls and I have even caught him tasting their food. He stands in line with the dogs if table scraps are being handed out. He even let me put a collar and tag on him and that was never possible before. He comes to the front door and very loudly meows to greet me as if to outdo the other doggie welcomes. When visitors come, he runs out to greet them with his canine brothers as if not to miss out. He actually pays attention to guests when he used to ignore most humans. And finally, he now gives Brian some real attention - after all these years.

I find it fascinating to watch animal behavior. I received an early birthday present from my sister in the mail yesterday - a book titled “Inside of a Dog” by Alexandra Horowitz. Ms. Horowitz is a scientist who has devoted a lot of her life to studying animal behavior – particularly in dogs. She seems to have the inside scoop. She has a lot to say about what dogs do and how they do it and maybe even why they do it. It is quite remarkable and a perfect read for me since I am relentlessly trying to understand what my animals are trying to tell me and why they do the things they do. Now I have some help.

But why, after so many years of being a cat, has Mac decided to start behaving like a dog? Don’t get me wrong, he will always have enough feline qualities to keep him from being mistaken for a dog, but it seems to me he has this emerging canine sensibility. Perhaps he behaves the way he does just to take a little bit of the attention away from the dogs who demand so much of it. Remember those deceitful little Siamese cats in “Lady and the Tramp”? Mac will knock stuff off the counters and make a mess from time to time and I am sure he would love to see Walter or Henry get blamed for it!

But somewhere, inside that aloof and cunning little feline mind of his, does Mac envy and admire the dogs?

Nah! Who am I kidding?

He’s a cat!