5.30.2012

A New Waterfront Gem

Summer is upon us. I guess not officially, but then, I can never remember those calendar-mandated season starters. Once I’m complaining about the heat, it’s summer. If I’m complaining because I’m cold – winter. Easy peasy. In the Northcountry, if it’s summer, you want to be near the water. And if you prefer Clayton to Alex Bay, like my family does, you now have a new dining option at your perfectly-manicured fingertips: ChannelSide Restaurant.




Located right on Riverside Dr. in the heart of the Village, ChannelSide takes up the vacancy left by the Riverside Café, and is run by the Beatties, of Attilio’s fame. They have completed a pretty stunning reno over the winter, so now, gleaming wood and stacked stone dominate the entrance and bar area, while the wood paneling in the back has been given a fresh coat of paint and the deck has been spruced up. As my parents and I visited at the start of the big Memorial Day weekend rush, cottagers up for their first night in paradise abounded.



We kicked off our meal with a doozy: fried cheese curds. This is a novel menu choice for Upstate NY. While we love our cheese curds, we don’t often take the step of deep frying them like our friends in the Midwest do. ChannelSide’s offering is light, with a slightly sweet batter that makes a fitting foil for the earthy, sharp cheddar curds. The accompanying horseradish sauce was a little mild, but delicious and creamy. It could have stood more of a kick and some more color, but wasn’t unpleasant. This was perfect bar food, and could honestly be kicked up and made extraordinary in any number of ways. Why isn’t anyone making jalapeno poppers with River rat cheese curds stuffed inside? Or topping the fried curds with bacon, cilantro and a spicy pico de gallo? A little imagination would take this dish from yum to Damn!



Salads were up next, and the house-made dressings were the star. Mom and I went for the house choice, which is a honey poppy seed, while Dad chose the balsamic. The honey poppy seed was a masterpiece: less sweet than I thought it would be, with citrus notes and an almost smoky undertone. Excellent. Even Dad’s balsamic was layered in flavor, and may have also counted honey among its ingredients. While the salad itself was kind of ordinary, make sure to sample the dressings when you dine here this summer.



Dad’s entrée, from the specials menu, was really nice: sea bass with pineapple mango salsa over sautéed greens. Because greens are so earthy and that salsa seems so light and summery, I had my doubts about this one. They were for naught, because the fish was cooked flawlessly, and the sweet salsa and crisp-tender chard played off each other really nicely. We heard from owner Bruce Beattie that the chef is named Clayton, which is cute since its IN Clayton. Good job on this one, kid.



My order also originated from the specials roster: pork medallions with mushrooms and truffle oil over garlic mashed. This uber mushroomy, earthy dish would have sung with something green on the plate, but was just slightly muddy as is. I loved the truffle kick; all lush, rich decadence, but it overpowered any flavor the velvety potatoes may have otherwise brought. The pork was fine, but again, not stronger than the shrooms. It could have been more tender, or even fattier. This was loin pork, and just kind of blah. Luckily, I love mushrooms, so I liked my plate, but there was some more work to be done here.



Mom stuck to an old standby for her entrée: filet mignon with rice pilaf. The welcome kick-in-the-pants here came from a gorgeous blue cheese cream sauce that she ordered on the side of her steak. It was heavenly, rich, indulgent, and addictive. I’m really hoping Ole Clayton, in the kitchen, cranked it out himself, because if I find out that was a packaged product, I might cry. We were even talking about how good that sauce would have been as the base for a soup with some corn or crab in it. Holy cow. The filet itself also was good, better beefy flavor than a lot of your run of the mill mignons out there, but the rice was completely flabby and insipid. Overcooked and boring.



Cindy Beattie, the other half of the Attilio’s legacy, makes all the desserts for ChannelSide. I went for the chocolate chip pie, or Kentucky derby pie, or whatever it’s called when it’s in a pie crust, but it tastes like a big, under-baked cookie. This is one of my favorite desserts. And while I only ate about 1/3 of this due to my oft-mentioned diet, I enjoyed the ooey, gooey chocolate, walnut, and sugary overload of it very much. The crust was very flaky, though not super flavorful. A scoop of great vanilla bean ice cream would have made this perfect.



With the exception of the sea bass, we felt like every dish here was solid, but could have benefitted from some creativity and adventuresome spirit in the kitchen. That’s what I love so much about places like Ithaca Ale House and chefs like Gabe Aubertine – you can tell someone is in the kitchen asking himself, “How could I push this dish over the top and make it awesome?” If Cindy and Bruce can give Clayton the carte blanche to do that in the ChannelSide kitchen, I think great things are possible. We scored ChannelSide an eight on the BHS scale. And it will do well in Clayton, due to its stunning location, outdoor seating and solid food. Give it a try this summer and let us know what you think! My hunger is big, my personality is bigger!

P.S. Some new graphics are on their way for Big Hungry Shelby, thanks to an amazing photo shoot last week with April McClintock Photography, with an assist from Michael J. Huxley Photography, Carrie Baker and Rosie Slocum, and The Boathouse and Hops Spot in Sackets. Here’s a tiny sneak peek for you, but what’s to come is WAY better! Note: April and I took great care that the bread loaf in the shot below didn’t look like a wandering wang in photos. I blame this on the fact that Hannaford in Watertown didn’t have actual French baguette Friday morning when I stocked up on treats there. How is this even possible? And how is it possible that errant phallic objects should even be of concern in my life?


ChannelSide on Urbanspoon

5.23.2012

You Say You Want a Revolution?

I climbed aboard the S.S. Treadmill on Saturday morning after a dietetically-disastrous week in New Hampshire last week, and there was Jamie Oliver on CNN Headline News, talking about his Food Revolution Day. I miss his show; and actually, I’ve been thinking about it lately, because as I talk to people and they find out what I’m doing in my quest to get beach-ready this summer, I’m always taken aback when I say I’m eating tons of fruit, vegetables and no carbohydrates at dinner, and they look at me like I’m Medusa. By and large, somehow, a vast majority of Americans are woefully uneducated about what they put inside their bodies.


Now, you know me, guys. I am not a health freak. I don’t believe in depriving kids of cookies or soda, and I don’t believe in depriving myself of bacon, cheese, grits, French fries, gravy, or any of the other foods that make my heart sing and my arteries clog. I don’t eat spelt bread, tempeh, whole wheat pasta, or chia seeds. But listen, God only gave me one body. There are times I need to be nice to it, and give it things it wants to run on, like spinach and apples. The fact that so many people look at me with the stink eye when I mention vegetables worries me. Maybe Jamie Oliver has a point, and maybe we need to read up a bit.



Case in point: in NH last week, at a company conference, we reviewed our new wellness plan and unveiled a wellness challenge that I am totally going to win ($250 SpaFinder gift cert, get in my purse now). Yet at mealtimes, there was no whole fruit, only sugar-heavy melon; no boiled eggs or whole wheat products at breakfast, only sugar-laden pastries and packaged scrambled eggs. One lunch, a fried platter of fish, chicken or clams with fries was the only option. I couldn’t have scrounged up a vegetable if I’d tried. And at dinner the previous night, at which I had ordered scallops thinking they’d be a healthy alternative, I didn’t eat anything since the plate was comprised of rubbery bay scallops floating in a cream sauce and covered in cracker crumbs, white and wild rice, and winter squash with gobs of brown sugar to sweeten it; I got seconds from the antipasti appetizer bar and called it a night. This is not the fault of the conference organizers, but our food system as a whole. The restaurants and hotels serving packaged, processed smoothies and overly-sweetened vegetables and calling them healthy are to blame. So my workplace, bless its heart, is trying to get me to embrace a healthy lifestyle while feeding me fried platters of heart disease and a sundae as an afternoon snack. Get real.

Incidently, this is how Little Hungry Lisa showed up to our hotel in NH. Check out all her fuggage! We need to take up a Big Hungry Nation collection and buy this girl a real suitcase.



No one seemed to be distressed at the food except Lisa and me. Lisa is Dr. Gomez’s wife, so she’s totes down for the cause, and trying to lose at the same time I am. This upsetting week came on the heels of my adorable brother-in-law having to phone a friend to find out what a carbohydrate is, and a diner waitress practically calling the cops on me for ordering oatmeal with a sunny side-up egg on top of it for breakfast a couple weeks ago. It’s also important to note that, this diner, which I love, doesn’t even have fruit on its menu. They took it off because no one ordered it. If that isn’t a damning commentary on the state of our nutrition, I don’t know what is.

So, here’s a recipe I invented a couple weeks ago and have already repeated this week in my dinner retinue. It is comprised of real food – shocker, I know – mostly vegetables, but still tons of flavor and enough fiber to be truly satisfying. I give you my stuffed zucchini:



BHS Stuffed Zucchini

  • 2 Medium zucchini
  • 1 Small eggplant, firm, heavy for its size
  • ¼ C Chopped onion
  • ¼ C Chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 Hot Italian chicken sausage links, divested of casing
  • 1 Small tomato, chopped 
  • 1 T Pine nuts, chopped
  • 1 – 2 Oz Goat cheese
  • Cooking Spray 
  • Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375°

2. Cut stem end off each zucchini, then cut lengthwise. Hollow out with a spoon, but be careful not to punch through. Leave at least 1.4” on all sides.

3. Brown and break up sausage in a medium skillet coated in cooking spray, over medium heat. Brown and cook through completely.

4. Chop up half of zucchini pulp (mostly flesh, not seeds) and discard seeds. Add to skillet with peeled, chopped eggplant (1/2” dice), onion, red bell pepper, salt and pepper. Sautee for 5 – 6 minutes, then add tomato and pine nuts to heat through. Make sure broken up sausage and veggies are all nicely mixed up.

5. Heap filling into zucchini boats and top with goat cheese. Bake at 375° for 30 – 45 min, or until zucchini is tender and goat cheese is melty and just browning.

If you have more filling than room in your zucchini, the filling is top drawer with some quinoa or pasta. Also, experiment with different kinds of cheeses or fresh herbs. Basil would be great!

I buy Lupo’s Hot Italian chicken sausage, and it has a pronounced kick to it. If your sausage is milder, add ½ tsp red pepper flakes to your eggplant mixture. Hot peppers do nice things for your metabolism.

Now, if all these vegetables are giving you the heebie jeebies, I have some nice junk food to throw your way and get your blood pressure back to normal. In Owego, there is a magical shop called Fuddy Duddy’s. It took me a long time to stop in initially, because it seemed like just a fudge place, and fudge really isn’t my thing. You know what are my things? Chocolate covered oreos and River Rat Cheese. FD’s has both, my hungry friends. Both! They also have fresh, homemade cookies, a dynamic gift basket service, nuts, gourmet foods, Alliger’s wing sauces, chocolate covered rice krispie treats, and truffles. I stopped in a couple weekends ago to get gift baskets made for two co-workers, and had a ball chatting up owner Suzan Williams and exchanging foodie chatter.



Suzan is super hands-on, and I have a feeling it’s her mom back there in the kitchen baking up scones and cookies. This place is a wonderland for your sweet tooth. If I hadn’t been doing the diet thing, I would have been all over the oatmeal cranberry cookies, which I’ve had the pleasure of devouring before. So you see, it’s all about balance. Because as much as I like stuffed zucchini with a tiny bit of goat cheese and poultry sausage, I fancy sweet treats just as much. All in moderation, my pets. Now eat your vegetables!


I guess my message is: live life with abandon, but don’t abandon the things that will give you life. And for Heaven’s sake, teach your kids what a potato looks like, and get into the kitchen with them and make some real food. Too many of us get led down the primrose path of Lean Cuisines, Subway takeout, heat-and-eat freezer dinners, and ‘two-slices-of-tomato-on-my-sandwich-count-as-today’s-vegetables’ mentality. I do it too – I’ve gone entire work weeks without eating a piece of whole fruit or a real vegetable side and wondered how that happened. It happens because we’re busy, and that’s a legitimate excuse, except that excuses don’t actually make us healthier. Feed yourselves and your families real food, and indulge responsibly and with gusto!

By the way, if you’re wanting to follow me down this road of wellness, you can take advantage of EatRightFitness’ deal for Big Hungry readers. Click here for more information; Dr. Gomez worked out a nice deal for ya. My hunger is big, my personality is bigger!

PS: Are you following me on Pinterest? It’s easy, you just click on the “follow me” button at the bottom left of this page. I don’t want to brag or anything, but I pin pretty awesome stuff like bacon, impeccably tailored frocks, and gorgeous vacation ideas. Get some!

5.16.2012

Jealously Guarded

I almost don’t want to tell you about this week’s review, you guys. I mean, you know I love you. I cheat on my diet for you, and most of the time, let’s face it, I disregard sound healthy eating principles altogether to bring Big Hungry Nation the most delicious treats and eats around. But this week, I went somewhere near and dear to my heart. Somewhere I had nearly forgotten my strong feelings for – a long-lost favorite destination in the Finger Lakes. This year for Mother’s Day, I decided to take my Mom to Skaneateles, and I was so joyous to navigate her shining shores once more.




I’ve never spent large amounts of time in Skaneateles, but throughout high school and a few times since, I’ve visited due to a long friendship with one family there. Us kids have grown up and moved away, which is why I haven’t been in so long, but as I drove in Sunday on 41N, barely managing to keep my car on the road due to my ogling of the gorgeous waterfront homes, I remembered why I love this place so much. Skaneateles is what would happen if Henderson Harbor, Sackets Harbor and Saratoga has a naughty night of passion followed by the birth of a love child: some very posh people and posh shopping can be found here, but it’s the lake that’s the draw. Skaneateles Lake is the cleanest of the Finger Lakes. Spring- fed and limestone-lined, the water is clear and blue – much more Caribbean than your typical finger lake. The combo of sparkling water, graceful homes, idyllic shops and fabulous restaurants are what made me hesitant to share my experience with you. It’s so perfect there: I’ll be jealous if you go and I can’t!

So, for Mother’s Day brunch, we went to a place I’ve been internet stalking for ages: Mirbeau Inn & Spa. Since this place opened, I have been dying to go to its spa. Problem: I am a normal, middle class girl who does not come from old money, or new money for that matter; the treatments at Mirbeau run roughly triple what I pay for services at August Moon. So I have watched and waited. And my chance to finally visit presented itself in the form of Mother’s Day brunch. Genius!



Just look at the grandeur of this place. It’s a Francophile’s wet dream, all Monet-inspired courtyard gardens, waterfalls, chateau chic and old world charm. My parents and I had a lovely stroll through the garden before brunch and marveled at the lush beauty. This place is like Disneyland for adults.



But alas, it was time for brunch. I set this meal aside as a cheat meal for the weekend, and tucked in with gusto. Our waiter, who I will leave nameless, was kind of a trip, in a borderline lecherous sort of way, interrupting our conversations to wax poetic on the beauty of women and the sanctity of motherhood. This was an immediate negative to the experience, though the rest of the staff was extremely pleasant and helpful in a non-intrusive manner. The dining room echoed the poshness of the rest of the inn: French country with a nice fireplace and a warm ambiance. I was excited for the food, and began with a plate laden with oysters, shrimp, pate and grilled zucchini.



I’ll start with the oysters, which I liked for their buttery, mild flavor, and the red wine mignonette, which I did not care for. This is my own fault; I know I don’t like red wine vinegar (classical conditioning from a traumatic stomach bug in my childhood), and I shouldn’t have tried it. For me, the red wine vinegar was much too acidic for the briny bivalves, and ruined their sweetness. The shrimp, as well, were not to my liking – they were flavorless and grainy-textured. The plate was redeemed by the pates, however. The liver pate was less salty than most of the chicken liver varieties I’ve been indulging in of late, but very rich and satisfying, while a vegetable tureen was mild, eggy and yummy. The grilled zucchini with oil-cured olives and feta was clean-tasting and delicious. Not overcooked; just right, while the brie was fine, funky and creamy.



For my second plate, I sampled my two favorite dishes as well as my least favorite. The duck l’orange was exemplary: crispy, sweet skin juxtaposed with savory, fall-apart tender meat. I would order this every time. It was fabulous. Equally terrific was the bread pudding-esque twice-baked French toast, which was awesomely sweet and cinnamony, creamy, custardy, ooooh yummmmm. And see the big, round, slice of beef in the bottom left quadrant of the plate? That would be my least favorite item, seafood-stuffed beef, from the carving station. This dry slab of protein did absolutely nothing for me. It’s wasn’t beefy, it was seafood-y, and it was so dry – despite a ladleful of au jus spooned on by the carver – I only managed two bites. Skip this one if you try out Mirbeau. Also adorning this plate was a mushroom risotto that was sweet and earthy (I think it may have included red wine, which was nice) that my Mom adored although it was a little tight for me. Risotto is all about the texture, and needs to be just slightly soupy. This was not. Also a seafood “Douglas” over jasmine rice. This yummy newburg relative was redolent of sherry and perfectly cooked scallops, but the rice itself was a little al dente – a mixed bag.

Between plates two and three, there was a hitch in our enjoyable meal. I had planned to return for a larger portion of duck and French toast, with some fruit to lighten things up – but the buffet was completely out of duck and low on the breakfast pleaser. While I was able to wait around for a delicious second helping of fresh French toast, the duck never did reappear. What’s up with that? Frankly, this buffet was $46 per person. Everything should have been hot and fresh at all times. There’s no excuse for this.

A close-up of French toast, which would have been a lot happier sharing the plate with some duck

The dessert table, too, disappointed me. Again, for a special occasion buffet that should have been lavish for its price tag, nothing really called to me from this array of truffles, lemon tart, carrot cake (which looked to be store-bought?), strawberry shortcake and black and white cookies. I went for the lemon tart, but it was completely boring – not overly tart, no strong flavors - and I only took a couple small bites. A true fine dining locale should have done something unique and gourmet to this classic dessert – but this was standard issue.



There were other items on the buffet I sampled and were fine, if unremarkable: roasted tri-color baby carrots were nice, if a little too crisp for my palate; potatoes dauphine were cold, although creamy and nicely flavored; the chicken cordon bleu on the carving station also was well-flavored but terribly dried out. Hey Chef – how about a supreme sauce to moisten things up? There also was an omelet station I didn’t try, and Dad had the mussels and said they were terrible, though he did enjoy the smoked salmon. Again, for a price tag north of $40, this is unacceptable, although overall, we had a great time here.

I’m struggling with a score, because while we said eight out of 10 onsite, in retrospect, I’m considering downgrading to a seven. You can’t deny that the place is lovely and the service, grand. But our personal waiter was annoying and intrusive, and the hold-up on food and some of the lackluster dishes were strong negatives. Yes, I’m sticking with the seven. If and when I return to Mirbeau – on that sparkling day I feel I can afford the lavish spa, I will order the duck and rejoice in eating as much as I want of this spectacular dish.

After brunch, we wandered the shops in “downtown” Skaneateles, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the day. We reminisced about fun times with our friends who live in town, and wondered if we’d run into any of them during our day. We didn’t, but that didn’t spoil the experience one bit. I highly recommend Skaneateles for a day trip or a weekend getaway. There are idyllic B&Bs around the village, or you can stay at Mirbeau. Dine at village institution The Sherwood Inn, or next door at Kabuki, which I’m hoping to visit around my birthday this year. And enjoy – this is a magical place, nestled right under our nose in Central NY.



What did you do for Mother’s Day this year? Any great spreads I missed? Have you been to Mirbeau and actually pampered yourself in its spa? Tell us all about it in the comments, below! My hunger is big, my personality is bigger!

The French Steakhouse at Mitbeau on Urbanspoon

5.09.2012

The Blather: Chef Gabe Aubertine

Last weekend, I had a brain storm, and in just a week’s time, I’ve brought it to fruition and onto your screen. Kinda proud of myself. I’ve been thinking for awhile about a way to tell you about cool chefs or food people, in our state or in a wider arena, because while our culture is currently obsessed with celeb chefs, we seldom hear about some of the small-scale rock stars of the culinary world. Then, I thought of the term “The Blather,” and thought that would be a cool title for profiles of bodacious, bad-ass chefs. Right after that, I had a dentist appointment at which the topic of conversation between me, my dentist and my awesome hygienist Aimee was Simply Red Bistro maven Samantha Buyskes, who recently closed the Simply Red Bistro at the Sheldrake Winery, and how sad that made us. That conversation prompted me to email Chef Samantha, plus a couple other chefs I know, and here we are, with my first edition. I give you…


The Blather

Our first chef on The Blather is Gabe Aubertine, the scamp I met through my little sister and her boyfriend, who took over for Shawn Vendetti at Fireside in Black River a couple years ago, then headed up the inventive dinner service at Bella’s in Clayton last summer. Gabe and I have become foodie friends since I started the blog, so much so that when I had dinner with my sister and her boyfriend Josh a couple weeks ago, and stipulated that I’m not doing carbs at dinner right now, Gabe and Josh had a whole conversation about my dietary restrictions unbeknownst to me. We’ve also bonded over our love of pork and Chicago chef Grant Achatz. Maybe you’ll bond with him, too. I asked him to answer five basic chef questions so you could get to know him better, and for him to share a recipe with us.
Chef Gabe cheffing it up on the line


BHS: How did you decide to pursue a career in food?

GA: Since I was 13, I've been working in professional kitchens. I started as dishwasher and food prep and worked my way up the ladder. I more or less just kept working in kitchens because I could eat for free and still collect a decent paycheck while I finished high school. After high school, I realized that I was pretty good at coming up with different dishes and I noticed how well I fit in with the usually pretty motley crew that you find in most kitchens. That's when I decided I'd stick with it and see where my path would take me.

BHS: What is your favorite ingredient?

GA: My absolute favorite thing to add to basically any food is my fresh herb trio. A nice mix of finely chopped rosemary, sage and thyme.



BHS: Do you have a foundational food memory from childhood?

GA: I'm not sure if I have any good memories about food from when I was a child. I do remember though, watching Emeril Lagasse for the first time in 6th grade. His charisma and boldness on camera and his ability to make a crowd applaud just by saying, “BAM,” was what I remember most. The food was fresh and always looked delicious. I truly believe that he may have influenced me the most in the culinary world.

BHS: What is your favorite restaurant?

GA: I don't know if it's an acceptable answer, but The French Laundry in Yountville, California. Unfortunately, I have never had the true pleasure of dining there, but just what Chef Thomas Keller stands for (sustainability, attention to detail, respect for the food) is something that I long to achieve in the culinary world. The French Laundry is known as one of the world's finest dining venues and it is a lifetime goal to be able to enjoy anything Chef TK creates.

BHS: What would be your last meal on Death Row?

GA: A nice, bloody steak with garlic mashed potatoes and haricot verts. I'm a meat and potatoes kind of guy no matter what is on my menu.


Cucumber spaghetti. How very French Laundry of him. As for me, I want to lick this plate.

Fresh Watermelon Salad with Cucumber "Spaghetti" and Tzatziki


Ingredients:

• 1 ripe seedless watermelon

• 2 large cucumber

• Small handful of fresh mint

• 2 ripe limes

Cut watermelon down into slabs about 3"x 3" and an 1" thick.

Cut cucumber in half length wise and scoop out seeds with spoon. Using mandolin or really sharp knife, cut slices lengthwise about 1/8". Then lay them flat and cut julienned strips about 1/8" thick that should resemble long strands of spaghetti. The strands should be thin enough to have the consistency of cooked pasta.

Assemble watermelon on bottom and a small wad of your "spaghetti" onto that. Squeeze fresh lime juice over it and put dollops of tzatziki in corners of plate for dipping. Garnish with a mint sprig

Tzatziki:

• 1 C Sour cream

• 1/4-1/2 C grated cucumber(use a box grater)

• Juice from1 fresh lime

• Small bit of fresh mint finely chopped.

• Salt and pepper to taste

Just whip them together and adjust season to taste.

I had to go ahead and attempt this dish, because it lined right up with my current diet, although I admit, I messed with Gabe's perfection, using a mix of low fat sour cream and nonfat Greek yogurt; plus, I had to sub in dill for mint, as Wegmans didn't have any small portions of mint this week. My results were still absofabudelicious, which is a word I just made up:



A lot less elegant, though


And that’s it from me this week, kids. I hope you’ll give Gabe’s inventive dish a try, and visit him wherever he lands to cook this summer. I hope it’s somewhere waterfront. Meanwhile, I have a couple fun reviews already in the hopper for you: Bandwagon Brew Pub in Ithaca and Nhuy in Vestal. Plus, Mother’s Day brunch at Mirbeau Inn and Spa in Skaneateles this Sunday, and a trip out to Alex and Ika in Cooperstown in June. With that, I endeavor to the treadmill…My hunger is big, my personality is bigger!

5.07.2012

Such a Deal!

As you know, I’m following the EatRightFitness plan in an effort to be ready for bikini season – a daunting task when you’re 34 years old and a food blogger. Dr. Roger Adams, at the helm of ERF, has customized meal and workout plans for me, and has been a great help in our two phone consultations, including analyzing when I get hungry during the day and adding helpful proteins and fruits to my plan, and suggesting alternate exercises when I tell him my malformed elbows prevent proper push-ups. And while I’m not back to exactly where I want to be yet, I’m happy with my progress and so is he.


Me in July
A bunch of you have asked for details on my plan. So I asked Gomez if he would like to cut Big Hungry Nation a deal. He said yes! So here it is:

  • Go to http://mywinwebpage.com/docadams/index.aspx and enter 'shelby' as your Preferred Customer Code upon checkout for 20 percent off your entire order of Dr. Adams’ nutritional products.
  • Or, if you want to do what I’m doing, sign up for a Get Started Special on a 90-day Weight Loss Program for only $99 for BHS readers. This phase usually costs $150, so you’re getting a bargain. Just send Roger a message via his website at eatrightfitness.com or e-mail him directly at roger@eatrightfitness.com and mention you are a BHS reader or follower; he will send you everything you need to get started.

Now, I’m inclined to tell you that $150 is worth it to feel better, look better, and be better, but come on, who doesn’t like to get such a great deal on something like this? It’s funny how I can rationalize spending $150 on shoes or dinner, but it seems like so much when it comes to losing weight. However, having worked with Gomez now for three weeks, I can tell you that this is worth it. The diet is not nearly as hard to stick to as I thought it would be, though no starches at dinner seems like a tough row to hoe in the abstract. Plus, the workouts, while really hard, are producing results already. My friends told me over the weekend they can see my weight loss in my face, while I can see it in my back and legs already.

I haven’t tried any of Gomez’s (you get why I call him that, right? The Addams Family?) supplements yet, but it may be something I will consider as we get closer to my beach vacation in July. If you live outside the Southern Tier, don’t worry: Roger will conduct your consultations over the phone if that’s better for you, and he’s great with e-mail support as well. In addition to his clients here, he coaches some pretty buff Texans in the Dallas area, so his guidance travels well.



If this kind of coaching isn’t your bag, I get that, too. There’s a different answer for each body, and for some, that answer is “bacon,” while for others, it’s “5K.” I just know I benefit from having rules and a definite goal. I’m a Virgo, Type A, anal retentive control freak, and I love me some rules like I love me a bacon cheeseburger with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and homemade pickles. Speaking of which, here’s a sneak peek at a future review, which was my cheat meal on Saturday:


Don’t freak out. I didn’t eat all the fries.
 Sweet Jesus. My hunger is big, my personality is bigger!

5.02.2012

Dispatch from Austin: Food Blogger Tweets from Wine Dive

I had a funny moment this morning. You all know I work for BAE Systems, and love my public relations job for the company. Part of PR in the year of our Lord 2012 is social media, and because I was already tweeting and facebooking long before my company made it an imperative, I’m often asked to provide messages for these mediums.


This week, I was in Austin, Texas lending a hand with media for a facility opening there. In addition to escorting reporters, I snapped iPhone pics and tweeted them, so that my corporate comrades could retweet them via the company’s official handle. All of this led to this morning’s funny moment, which was opening up the daily social media report from our parent company and reading, “News that BAE Systems has completed and opened a new manufacturing centre in Austin, Texas is widely shared. BAE Systems links to a Business Wire press release about the opening while other users link to reposts of the release. A food blogger tweets from the event, sharing photos of the ceremony.” Guess who the food blogger is, and do you know how funny that is to read about yourself? I love my life.

Since I was in Austin, you know, I wanted to eat great food. Austin is one of those cool, unique places – like Ithaca or Seattle – where most of the people who live there do so by their own choosing. You rarely meet an Austin native – everyone seems to have chosen Austin as the place they wanted to live. And why not? After my hectic day of air travel, I stepped off the plane and heard live country music right in the airport. This is a special place, and the food, vibrant Mexican, BBQ and eclectic Southern-tinged American comfort food, reflects a people very comfortable in their own skins and in their cuisine.

From Big Hungry Jill’s sister Alison, I learned that just a mere block from my downtown hotel was a magical enclave called Max’s Wine Dive. After checking in, I was blissed out to step outside in the sunshine and stroll around the neighborhood, finally entering this eclectic shabby southern comfort space. I sat at the bar, intending to have one glass of wine and an appy before grabbing sushi from the joint next door and going back to the room to work.

They really do grab bottles from this wall; I saw Matt do it!
Instead, I stayed for three appys, which equaled dinner, and three glasses of wine poured by friendly, knowledgeable Matt. Ask for him when you go there.

Yes, that IS Matt in the background. He was very attentive.

My first choice from the Max’s menu, keeping in mind my EatRightFitness plan, was the tuna ceviche with wonton chips. I hadn’t had a real lunch, so I was more than ready to dive into this treat of raw, fresh tuna mixed with avocado, mango, citrus and cilantro. This was less acidic and less Asian-inspired than most other tuna tartars I’ve had, and I loved it. The avocado lent silkiness and lushness to the dish, while the mango added just a hint of sweetness. The little wonton crisps were a wonderful, bland foil to the fatty lushness of the tuna and avocado. And no, I didn’t eat all of the wonton crisps, diet Nazis. Just most of them. I liked it so much, I asked Matt for the menu, and decided to order more from the funky, fun bill of fare.


Meantime, I was ready for another glass of wine, and asked Matt what he liked lately off the white list. He steered me towards a chardonnay (usually not my first choice) from Amici Winery in California. It was perfect with my next choices off the menu, buttery and well-matched with seafood. And that seafood was scallops, also recommended by Matt, plus fried green tomatoes.

The two plump scallops, seared golden but just cooked through in the center, were seasoned better than any scallop I have ever had. I’m not sure what was on them besides salt and probably white pepper, but they were scrumptious. Each was perched upon a tiny square of corn pudding, which amounted to a flavor combining whole, fresh corn off the cob and creamed corn. You really tasted that wonderful corn “milk” that you only get when you cut it fresh from the cob. This dish was served with potato sticks that I didn’t eat – bikini season is coming – but I so enjoyed the buttery scallops with the sweet, silky pudding and oaky chardonnay. This was sublime.


The fried green tomatoes were probably the least successful dish, not because there was anything wrong with them, but because they needed a little kick. When I make them at home, I usually serve them with a horseradish-infused mayo/ketchup/cayenne sauce for dipping, but this iteration paired them with a corn custard and mustard “caviar,” which was just mustard seeds macerated in a little vinegar. The tomatoes were still a little bitter (it’s early in the tomato season for sure), and the mustard caviar wasn’t zippy enough for me. That said, I love fried green tomatoes, and I always try to have them when I’m in the South. So this dish checked the box just fine.



My entire meal at Max’s was a pleasure. From the t-shirts and bumper stickers reading, “Fried chicken and champagne?...Why the Hell not?,” to the casual interior and generous wine pours, this place is set up for a good time, much like the rest of Austin. So if you find yourself staying in Downtown Austin, forgo the Fogo de Chao, PF Chang’s and Melting Pot, and tuck into some fun grub at Max’s Wine Dive. I give it a seven on the BHS scale. When I return, you can bet I’ll be sampling the fried chicken, the ginormous fried egg sandwich with house-made bacon and black truffle aioli (I hate that word), and the duck and cracklins (groan).

Lots of tasty plans afoot at BHS headquarters right now, my Big Hungries. I’m working on a new feature called The Blather, trying to hammer out a proposal with Dr. Gomez at EatRightFitness, and I made carrot cake oatmeal last night. I know! Yum! I also did some revisiting of Northcountry favorites over the weekend. I’m pleased to report that Wiseguys Pizza in Chaumont is still fabulous. My Dad ordered chicken parm for dinner, and we actually saw the cook pounding out the chicken breast in the kitchen by hand! We also hit up Koffee Kove in Clayton, and as ever, the coffee was delicious and the homemade whole wheat toast rocked my Sunday, and the corned beef and cabbage at Colemans in Watertown is top-notch.



Of course, my meals at these places were conservative due to ongoing dietary extravaganzas. Our favorite waitress, Paula, at the Clubhouse Saturday morning looked at me very strangely when I asked for an over-easy egg on top of a bowl of oatmeal. Instead of chicken parm or pizza at Wiseguys, I had a scallop appetizer and a huge antipasto salad. And my corned beef and cabbage from Colemans is about to provide a third meal – the portion size was gargantuan. But I’m down seven pounds and feeling fine! My hunger is big, my personality is bigger!

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