Archive for January, 2013

The Skin You’re In – A Visit to Bellevue MediSpa

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New Year, New You


O r at least, that’s what a million different magazines are trying to feed us right now, because Americans traditionally spend January trying to remake themselves after a holiday deluge of debauched eating and partying, coupled with a failure to take care of themselves generally. It’s the month or two of gym memberships, before you quit going in March; January’s the month where we cleanse and colonic and vow to drink only green juice and to finally do something about all the damage we’ve done to our skin from sun and bad diet.

That’s all well and good, but the reality is that taking care of yourself on the front end is much easier than fixing the mess afterwards. I’ve got quite a few postings this month about what you can do to make yourself look and feel better right now – but if you’re coming back and reading this next July, most of it will still be relevant.

Inconceivable though it is, I’m going to start the year off with a few thoughts on fixing your skin and how to do things right, because your goal should not be to look like a fixture on reality TV.

Step one is to recognize that you aren’t ever going to look 17 again, nor should you want to (nor should you have had the kind of life that makes you wish you were 17 now). That said, you can look really good.

There are the basics you should know. Drink water, lower your levels of caffeine, alcohol and soft drinks. Eat healthy foods, skip the processed crap, and get high doses of vitamins A, E and C – preferably from food, not supplements. Don’t starve yourself or commit to radical diet plans. It will take its toll on your skin and hair. Ixnay on the cigarettes.

And most importantly, enough with the tanning. The vast majority of “aged” looking skin is caused by too much sun exposure. Quite aside from the risks of skin cancer, too much sun can produce age spots, heavy freckling (which, after 30, you might as well start calling age spots), premature wrinkling and a host of other problems.

Fortunately, this is not 1950, and if you want to look great, there are things that can be done at a good medi-spa – for the most part procedures that are non-invasive, moderately priced, and have minimal downtime, but take years off your face. And that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

I’ve made use of a goodly number of medi-spas in the area in the course of my writing, and I’ll tell you up front I only feel right recommending two – the place I’m going to talk about now is Bellevue MediSpa.

Yeah, I’m going to recommend that you drive to Bellevue – it’s right of I-40, if you’re in the Nashville area and can drive to Belle Meade from downtown, you can drive to Bellevue.

The why is that this particular medi-spa, to my mind, is one of the hidden gems in the area. Set just before you get into the heart of Bellevue (perhaps on your way to Ed Fryer’s awesome RED Wine and Spirits), Barry and Lori Knerr’s place is going to treat you with honesty and respect, and deal with your issues in the best way for you.

The location is pleasant, warm and welcoming, and for me a big plus was seeing Thistle Farms products on the shelves for sale as I walked in the door, instead of overpriced moisturizers with vanity labels. Against the south-facing wall is a huge tank of exotic fish.

Visiting gave me the opportunity to sit and talk with Barry and Lori, the husband-and-wife team of owners. Talking with them, it’s clear that when you come in here, unlike many places, they’re going to stress the least invasive, least intense treatment process to get you where you want to go. In my case, all I wanted was to get rid of a few pale brown sunspots that seem a permanent fixture on the lower half of my face, something that could be achieved in a single laser session with absolutely minimal downtime (like, say, the rest of the day, period).

What, though, do the “average customers” come into a medi-spa for in the first place? Turns out the typical customer is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a woman in her 30s to 60s trying to stave off the effects of age. In our reality, while men are allowed a few fine lines and a smidge or two of gray because they look “distinguished,” women are not.

Where once upon a time, the fix could have meant plastic surgery from which you need a long period of rest and recovery, the contemporary repair is often faster, easier and requires a whole lot less down time. A good medi-spa, like Bellevue, is going to give you options from laser treatments (one or multiple, depending on the extent of the damage you want to repair) that deal with everything from sun spots to promoting collagen growth to correcting rosacea, acne and other skin discolorations to spider veins, to Botox injections and fillers like Juvederm and Restylane.

Most skin and age related problems can be dealt with in a non-surgical manner, over time, whether you want to take a few years off your skin or deal with a larger and potentially more painful problem, like the afore-mentioned spider veins.

There will always be some things that will require genuine medical advice, and the folks at Bellevue MediSpa will let you know if that’s the case. What I like about them is their honesty – “this is what we can do” – and they mean what they say. You won’t get ridiculous promises, you won’t be pushed to spend far more than your budget allows for, and you won’t end up looking like a “Real Housewife” –there are other places that are better bets if you want to look plastic.

Among the biggest appeals is the presence of Brazilian native chemist and permanent makeup artist Bea (Beatriz), who does incredible work with cancer patients, tattooing super-fine hairs on as brow replacement for those who’ve lost hair via chemotherapy and remarkable work replacing areola for those who’ve had mastectomies. She also offers scar repair that’s off the charts amazing. This is a situation where you have to see her work to believe it.

But the thing is, the reason why I’m saying “hey, it’s January, go get some work done” is because you can, and you can feel secure doing it. That’s regardless of what you need done. Medi-spas are safer than ever, and you can trust good laser technicians – and that means you need to ask questions to make sure your technician is up on his or her training, but that’s what you’d do for any other minor medical procedure, now, isn’t it?

The folks at Bellevue MediSpa are being written about today because they’re people who actually care about you, not about making a fast buck – which means you’ll walk out looking real and natural, with the work you wanted done, and without 16 other procedures you’ve been pressured into.

Barry and Lori tell me they have a huge variety of clients, from kids who want to get rid of serious acne problems to 90-year-old golf aficionados who have serious sun damage they’d like cleared up to yes, guys who want to do something about their ear hair and need a little laser to fix it. That speaks to their appeal across the board, they’re not just aiming to help the ladies who lunch (not that they won’t, mind you), they’re aiming to make a difference for you.

Big hint here, right now is the perfect time of year to get laser treatment for sun damage, because you’re going to be keeping out of the sun for a good long while before spring – and those of us who are outdoorsy by nature need to stay out of the sun and keep sunscreened immediately after laser treatment, to avoid side effects like hypopigmentation.

And while we’re at it, on that sunscreen? Yeah, your SPF is probably good for about an hour before you need to reapply, so if you don’t want to find yourself treating more sun damage, think to reapply carefully before you go out in the sun at lunch and after work, if you put it on in the morning before you left. It really does make a difference.

Bellevue MediSpa, 631 A Old Hickory Blvd., Nashville, Tennessee.

The New `Cue Review: Comin’ Right at You

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As we kick off 2013, it’s an excellent time to reflect on the sorts of things that made 2012 special. Personally, one of the most gratifying and downright fun things I did was to write a series for which they entitled “A Year of Barbecue.” Fortunately, the series ended in December, so I have a few months to get my lipid counts down from the Mr. Creosote range before my annual visit to my internist.

During the course of the year, I made many new friends on the bbq circuit, visited restaurants and smokehouses around the South and spent several nights watching whole hogs render while merry bands of derelict pitmasters did some pretty wacky things to keep themselves entertained and awake overnight.

But the details of my exploration that I can share are gathered below. I’m very proud of this series, and my editors say that they are looking to nominate it for some journalistic awards around the country. “Journalist,” heh. That’s just because I didn’t write about watching a man pee over a truck to win a $5.00 bet. More than once…

So here are the highlights of the series, conveniently gathered in one spot for your reading pleasure:

In January, I kicked the year off with some bold proclamations and promises of what I hoped to achieve in 2012. I think we accomplished most of them.

Later in January, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Mike and Amy Mills’ BBQ IQ Whole Hog Cooking Seminar at 17th Street Bar and Grill in Murphysboro, IL. Not only did I witness whole hogs being cooked by masters of the trade and learn a great deal about the business of barbecue from legends like Sweet Baby Ray and Famous Dave, but I also developed relationships with some really exceptional people. At the very top of that list is Sam Jones from The Skylight Inn in Ayden, NC. Not only is Sam a great guy, he’s also a hilarious quote machine, and my profile of him pretty much wrote itself. I’ll take the credit for writing down his best bon mots, though.

March came in like a lion but went out like a lamb, mutton that is. I joined my good friend Thomas Williams for a mutton-fueled trip to Owensboro, KY where we sampled some of the best old sheep on earth at Old Hickory BBQ and Moonlite Bar-B-Que. While the gamey mutton meat isn’t for everyone, anyone who calls himself a barbecue aficionado needs to make this pilgrimage at least once in their life.

April’s installment focused on the ultra-competitive sauce industry, where I discovered that Sweet Baby Ray is actually a friendly middle-aged white guy from the suburbs of Chicago, not the Cosby Kid caricature I had imagined. He’s also an extremely shrewd businessman whose best advice about entering the retail sauce business is…don’t do it.

As the weather warms up, more amateur pitmasters want to get outside and start to show off their talents competitively. With Memphis in May approaching, I published a fun little competition calendar to help plan your culinary road trips.

In June, I went a little wacky. Or rather Waikiki as I explored Hawaiian barbecue. You probably don’t think of `cue when you see a pig coming out of the ground at a luau, but pork cooked over indirect heat from smoky indigenous wood sounds a lot like barbecue to me.

If you are a fan of barbecue, I cannot emphasize enough how much fun you can have at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party held each June in Madison Square Park. Expert smokers from around the country descend on the park to feed some of the best food that yankees will ever have the pleasure to enjoy. Y’know, like we can get just by driving to Nolensville any day of the week. My recap of the event and of the drive from Tennessee to NYC was one of my favorite pieces to write all year. Look for another version of the story to appear in A Taste of the South magazine this coming spring.

The heat of the summer pointed me to Texas where I took on a significant task trying to identify the best barbecue in the Lone Star State. In the end, I narrowed it to around ten joints, and I’m certain I left out some of the best. Barbecue is a cruel mistress that way.

Finding the best barbecue in Manhattan was a lot easier, since there aren’t nearly as many choices. Because my editors at Food Republic all live there, the pressure was on for me to make those sort of choices remotely. As FR’s “Southern correspondent,” they count on me to pretty much cover anything that isn’t in Manhattan or Brooklyn, but fortunately they concurred with my recommendations.

This success left me cocky enough to tackle one of the barbecue capitals of the universe, Memphis. I made no bold proclamations about the best of the Bluff City, but even bad Memphis barbecue is probably better than what passes for `cue in your hometown. The exploration of ten famous spots in one day was an experience I’ll never forget, but also probably never attempt again.

As if gorging myself in Memphis wasn’t enough, in November I described what it’s like to judge at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitation Barbecue competition. Consider that taking just a small bite of everything offered for your deliberation adds up to over two pounds of food consumed and you’ll get an idea of what it’s like. Which is to say…awesome!

I finished off the year by sharing the wisdom and talents of three different masters of the whole hog, Sam Jones, Rodney Scott of Scott’s BBQ and Food Network’s culinary Mr. Wizard, Alton Brown. While their techniques and advice were very different, all three certainly know their way around a pig. (Which is really not that far considering that you have already cut the pig in half.)

So there it is in a nutshell. Would I do it again? Absolutely! But luckily I’m certain that the relationships I made this year will ensure that the study of great barbecue will be a lifelong pursuit.


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