September 2010

Step on the scale and I’m around 175.8. And I had told my wife yesterday that I would try to stay between 175 and 185, or maybe  that was one of these totally internalized conversations; hard to tell presently. But I’m concerned. I’ve not been placed in a situation where I’m supposed to gain weight. Thing is, I look pretty good at 175. A lot more definition in my legs, for example, without losing shape anywhere else.

But still, how to slow or stop the weight loss? I dig into my very neglected cheese drawer, skim past the three unused chunks of parmesan cheese, past the cheddars, past the Dubliner. There it is, a nice chunk of Kerry Gold Ivernia, and I cut off a slice, estimate it to be 2 ounces. Then I weigh it on the scale. 0.55 ounces. So I shave more off, until I have a whole 1.3 ounces of good rich cheese. The bite has salty overtones I had forgotten, the rich cheesy aftertaste lingers. Then its back to Fiber One, milk, flax seed oil and the low fat Baby Bels for the rest of breakfast.

Web MD says I have to eat 2800 calories a day, if I’m exercising lightly, to gain 1 pound a week. I can do it easily, but can I do it safely? Saturated fat is ‘teh ev1l’ to my doctor. My maximum carb intake is fixed. Proteins above a certain point (along with calorie richness) lead to gout issues. Left behind are monounsaturated fats: oils and nuts. Thing  is, I can demolish a can of cashews in an  hour, much less a day.

Bocado is a roomy but small restaurant on Atlanta’s Ground Zero for restaurants, Howell Mill Road. To say that it has attracted a lot of attention is an understatement. It was hard,  in 2009 and 2010, to read any reviewer without a mention of (or allusion to) this place. I was waiting for the buzz to die down a bit before meandering into Midtown to try this restaurant, but the buzz never seems to go away. Something about this place hits a sweet spot with people.

Perhaps it’s the signature Bocado burger. I didn’t have one this day but plenty of people did. Perhaps 70% of the clientèle this day were chowing down on the Bocado burger stack. The weather was bad, which is why I was here in the first place. I’d rather eat than fight hellish fall thunderstorms.

They have a set of really good sounding small plates as well as entrées at dinner. I aimed for the cheese plate and Bocado’s chicken.

The cheeses were good, the Roquefort the best of the four, in my opinion. I like my cheeses with some bite and a lingering aftertaste. The chicken was moist, great crust. I could have used more collards and fewer grits, the sauce adding just a hint of worthwhile heat (I’ll ask for more of the sauce when I go back). The service was fantastic, perhaps even indulgent. The food never missed a beat, and I wasn’t even eating this restaurant’s signature item.

The plates are smaller, so if you’re wanting huge servings for your dollar, this isn’t a place to go. I was comfortable, though, after I ate, and the richly flavored servings make Bocado a perfect “on the way to” place: on the way to the movies, on the way to a party, on the way home on a harsh, rainy day.

Verdict: Graceful. Good food, superb service. Highly recommended.

887 Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 704-5850

Bocado on Urbanspoon

Got up, weighed myself. 177.5 pounds. Instead of the diet being virtually over, it is over. Maintenance from now on. I haven’t been posting much because I had surgery for a hernia last Friday. It was relatively pain free within a couple days, though coughing and laughing still hurt, a lot.  Now I’m in, as Mike Stock of 285 Foodies puts it, in a “livit” from now on.

I lost most of my weight using Cheerios as my mail morning cereal. I’ll note that I was lucky in this regard, as many diabetics can’t handle the sugars in the combination of cereal and milk. I’ve found three more cereals I can use in the mornings, two oldies and one that’s new to me.

The new one is Fiber One, which has 25g of carbs per serving, 14g of that dietary fiber (and therefore, depending on the rule used, can be subtracted from the total carbs of the day, or half the fiber can be subtracted). The second is a version of Special K called Protein Plus, which has only 2g of sugars. The third is any of the kinds of Shredded Wheat, which can be used if you will cut the serving size in half. Sugars in the Shredded Wheat category are exceptionally low, but the standard serving has well over 40 grams of carbs. Half the serving falls into a tolerable range, with milk.

Isabella’s Cafe has been slowly creeping up UrbanSpoon’s 10 hottest list, in part due to excellent reviews by Bob Townsend of the AJC, and Amy of Amy on Food, but also in part to a well rounded, diverse menu. The choices were interesting enough that my wife was asking me whether we should go some days ago, and only various misadventures kept us from arriving at this cafe until recently.

I was ravenous when I arrived, a product of missing a couple meals on the day we arrived. Both my wife and my daughter seemed to be looking forward to eating here. The restaurant is very roomy once you arrive, with an exceptionally high ceiling. Tables are spaced far apart, and there is some (though not a lot of) outdoor seating.

There are some good looking appetizers here, and an equally tantalizing collection of salads. One virtue of Isabellas is consistently high quality greens. Food issues such as mine leave me eating a lot of vegetables instead of pastas and other starches. Isabella’s salads are a nice way to avoid the starches that often fill dinner entrées.

This is not, however, a diabetic friendly restaurant (though it does have the potential to be one). The salad dressings are invariably sweet and sugary. Things like a balsamic vinaigrette  are nowhere to be seen. Desserts are all home made, sound wonderful, and are loaded with sweet calories.  All entrées come with plenty of starches, and many of the appetizers are breaded.  Salads and sandwiches make the restaurant bearable, and there are just enough options in the sides and vegetable plates to make it useful.

Ambiance, especially after a hard week, is pretty fantastic. The photos on the walls are appealing, the small descriptions worth a read. The music is a nice accompaniment to the casual atmosphere, and the way the sun filters into the cafe leaves everything bathed in very natural lighting.

In terms of individual plates, the grilled veggie salad was perhaps our favorite, really excellent.  My daughter really liked her Swahili shrimp curry with mango and the samosas we tried went over really well.  My shrimp and andouille sausage sandwich was good and the grilled jerk chicken sandwich pretty good. The spinach was, compared to the other, more spicy alternatives, a bit pale and mild to my tastes. Breads overall were of very high quality.

Wait staff are good, if a little too helpful at times. That salad I ordered was large, but please, step back and realize that some people order a lot of greens for a reason!

Verdict: Deserving of its accolades, with good food and a good staff. A bit too sweet and starchy, but good breads and greens. Highly Recommended.

Isabella’s Cafe
910 West College Avenue
Decatur, GA 30030
(404) 373-7177

Isabella's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Big Shanty Smokehouse has been described as a small roadside BBQ restaurant, but until you actually get there and look, it’s a little hard to imagine just how small it is. It’s smaller than Spiced Right in Roswell, just a converted house really, and a typical postwar American house at that. Staff was perhaps 3 or 4 people. But out of that small smokery comes some big flavors.

I ordered Steve’s Sampler, a platter which came with four separate meats and two sides.There was brisket, pulled pork, ribs and a decent sized chunk of sausage. The pulled pork was spot on, both smoky and tender and excellent. The ribs were very good, smoky with a thin smoke ring that circled the meat. The sausage was flavorful and nicely spiced. The brisket, while it had a visible ring and was tender and tasty, wasn’t quite to the caliber of the other three meats this day. Still, it was real barbecue through and through. I ate what I could, took the rest home to family. I could smell the smoke while bringing the meats to the door.

My wife raved about the rib she had.

Verdict: Big Shanty Smokehouse is “The Real Deal”. Highly recommended.

Big Shanty Smokehouse
3393 Cherokee Street
Kennesaw, GA 30144
(770) 499-7444

Big Shanty Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

A nice lady named Jackie Ewing left this message, which rather than leaving as an addendum to a post, I’ll use as the introduction to this blog entry:

Hi I couldn’t find an email address to send this to, but I’m an Account Manager from G2, a marketing firm, and we’re putting together a cooking contest called the Aetna Healthy Food Fight, and it’s making its way around the country. It’s coming to Atlanta on October 23-24. I found your blog and it caught my attention. You, or your followers, could get great exposure for recipes and meet celebrity cooks (Bobby Flay, Sunny Anderson, Sara Moulton, or Cat Cora). Please go to to check it out. Deadline to sign up for Atlanta is October 6. Good luck if you decide to enter! had some nice things to say about the Healthy Food Fight, along with pictures of Bobby and some early winners.

In recent days I’ve seen a few interesting smaller restaurants, taken a look, and found that they were closed and/or in the middle of extensive renovation. So my latest food photo is from Maya Fresh Grill, a very good chicken taco special. Ask Guillermo if he has any food specials; I’m sure he’ll be happy to oblige.

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