I count this among the small pleasures in life: flipping through the day’s mail, as I did last week, to see that it includes a copy of Seattle magazine’s annual “Best Restaurants” issue. Not only because I’m an adamant fan of our local restaurants and love to see what’s on the radar, which spots I need to add to my “gotta get there” list. But also because, for just over six years, I was the food editor at Seattle and that restaurant issue was by far the biggest project of the year. It pulled together the culmination of a year’s worth of restaurant experiences, homing in on what really stood out as the very best of Seattle-area dining destinations. Fun, challenging, super detailed, tough decisions. To be honest, I enjoyed the process while it lasted but it’s a treat now to just have the magazine show up in my mail slot.

And it’s nice to know, perusing this year’s honorees, that I’m not too far out of the restaurant-scene loop! In fact, I’ve been to all five of the year’s “Best New Restaurants,” three of which I’ve blogged about in recent months: Spinasse, The Corson Building, Poppy— and Olivar and Spring Hill are on my too-long to-write list!

Because I’m such a fan of celebrating the story, and history, behind the food, I was jazzed to see that the article gave some solid attention to restaurants that have stood the test of time, going back even 100-plus years with Maneki (which I’m embarrassed to say I have never been to!). A few dozen other restaurants are featured in other benchmark categories, such as 30+ (including Ray’s Boathouse) and 20+ (Rover’s among them). Then still a few more pages of quick-hit highlights of the year, from “most convincing argument that cauliflower is not a vegetable” to “best $11 you’ll spend on dinner in Seattle.” Sorry, I’m not giving everything away. You have to flip through the magazine to find out all the gems of the year.

Funny to see what the husband of current food editor, Alison Austin Scheff, has to say in a sidebar titled “Married to the Job.” My own dining cohort (for nearly 25 years now) has waxed on occasionly about the joys and challenges of being married to a food writer. But never had an opportunity to have a public platform for his perspective. Maybe I’ll let him make a guest posting one of these days. But–for the most part–I’m pretty sure the scales weigh more to the positive. Even if some evenings he’d rather pick his dining destination. Which is often home.

Way to go, Alison (and your cohorts). I know from experience what a big job that annual issue is. This one is a winner.