This week's eats! Iron Fork & Bao Down Happy Hour

Added on by Tabitha.

It's time to see some of the city's best chefs duke it out in the local arena we fondly know as Iron Fork. Iron Fork starts at 6pm this Wednesday, April 16th at Vanderbilt's Commodore Ballroom. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased in advance (though they may cut it off) and at the door (credit card only).

This is the seventh year for this event, and each year it just gets better and better so I'm really excited to go. This year's competition is hosted by Arnold Myint.

Competing chefs are:

  • Kristen Gregory - Firefly Grille
  • Matt Bolus - The 404 Kitchen
  • James Peisker & Chris Carter - Porter Road Butchers
  • Hal Holden-Bache - Lockeland Table

Participating restaurants include some of my personal favorites like Lucky Bamboo (this is their first year participating), Olive & Sinclair and (a recent addition to a list of likes here in town) Antica who I hope will serve their pork belly appetizer.

Other restaurants:

  • Boca Loca
  • Amerigo
  • Two Bits
  • Drake's
  • Qdoba
  • Nashville Jam Company
  • Salsa
  • Jim 'N Nicks
  • Bar Louie
  • Music City Tippler
  • Nashville Farmers' Market
  • The District Bar & Kitchen
  • Gaylord Opryland
  • Cafe Fundamental
  • Ben & Jerry's
  • Mere Bulles
  • Monell's
  • The Art Institute of Tennesse-Nashville
  • Ginger Thai

See you there!!


I was so excited to see that someone was starting a bao truck here in Nashville. People are embracing Chinese food and it's awesome that someone is introducing them to more. Baos are snacks where I'm from. Some of you might be more familiar with the type of bao that folds and traditionally has braised pork belly in it. Ramen houses like to serve those, these baos are more like dumplings in that they're filled with.. um, a filling (usually meat or veggie or a sweet bean paste) and wrapped with the fluffy dough then steamed.

When I went to Bao Down's happy hour last week (they'll be at Kohana in Green Hills every Tuesday this month) I tried all three - char siu (barbeque pork), chicken and a mushroom bao. All three were delicious, but what stood out were the flavors. Everything they make is from scratch, they source their meat from a farm in Tennessee and because they use premium ingredients, each bao is about $3 - 3.50. What I loved the most was the dough - it was perfect. Good chew, fluffy, you can peel the skin off it, something good baos should have, and it wasn't dry or too ... doughy.

Anyway, give it a try, go see them at Kohana. Happy hour starts at 5pm.

Things to do in Nashville this weekend

Added on by Tabitha.

It's a weekend of pop-ups! Starting this evening with Stellashops' event at Posh through Saturday afternoon with another of my favorite bloggers' events while staying fueled with some depressed pastries. Join me, won't you?

Friday 3/14

Stellashops, Nashville's go-to shopping and style blog, is hosting an event at Posh this evening so if you're in between work and happy-hour, head over to Hillsboro Village to check out some killer jewelry.

Saturday 3/15

Best described by many as a "blend of edgy and classic," Pennyweight's style is one so many women covet but rarely can pull-off. I personally love how rough-hewn yet soft a lot of what she posts is, and I cannot wait to see what's available at the pop-up. Click on the picture to get to her post about it.

But before I head over there, I'm treating myself to some pastries.

It's not as gloomy as it sounds and what's gloomy about a bunch of cupcakes, pastries and cookies? NOTHING.

Sure, the treats are all going to be grey, but bakers (if they're good) can get really creative and hey, sometimes you just don't want all your treats to be pink! Sales from the Depressed Cake Shop benefit local charity, Centerstone, which provides mental health services to the community.

Sunday 3/16

Suzy Wong's House of Yum is starting brunch service on Sundays from 12 - 3pm. I got to partake in their preview last week and the food we had was delicious. They have fun cocktails and mocktails, plus there's entertainment every 30 minutes. It's fairly kid-friendly, except the music gets kind of loud but not unbearably so unless you're hungover. And even if you are, this is a great place to soak up Saturday night's indulgences!


Los Angeles: Tortoise General Store

Added on by Tabitha.

Back on that L.A. kick... I keep thinking about the city and how much I enjoyed being there. Honestly, I was surprised at how much I liked it! Even though the weather for most of the week I was there was gloomy and rainy (and cold, actually) I still loved it and I am figuring out how I can go back for an extended amount of time.

One of my favorite places (other than the coffee companies we drove hither and yon to go to) is Tortoise General Store. My first full day in LA was fantastic - my two best friends, one from Singapore and one from here, got to meet and the three of us spent the day walking around sunny Venice along the Abbott Kinney stretch of shops and restaurants. It was a typical, gorgeous L.A. Sunday, 65 degrees and sunny so not only was the company perfect, the day was as well.

We walked into what seemed, at first, to be a tiny store that sold Japanese housewares, clothes, stationery and art. Everything in the shop was beautiful and I wanted it all. I knew my sister would love it so when she arrived in LA, I dragged her there and I was right! She ended up getting some gifts for her friends, and we spent a good 45 minutes just looking at every little thing they had on their shelves from their art supplies (they have the tubs of starch glue we used as kids!!) to their sake cups and kitchen tools. I ended up buying a couple of pens and after coming back to Nashville, I ordered some things to give to a friend here.

As we wandered further into the store, we realized that there was a zen garden styled courtyard in the back that lead you to an art gallery filled with ceramics and Japanese art. So if you go, don't forget to go over there.

Oh, I have to say, their customer service is great. They helped me figure out an order I messed up (there's been a lot of that lately where I'm concerned) and not only fixed it, but followed up with me by telephone. SUCH a rare gesture these days, and one I appreciated.

If you get a chance to go to LA, you must stop by there, it's perfect for getting gifts for people you know or for yourself. And if I get the chance to go back to LA, this will probably be the first stop on my list.

Otaku South XLRG - the biggest ramen event Nashville's ever seen.

Added on by Tabitha.

You know how much I like to eat, and how much I enjoy a soupy bowl of ramen so words cannot express how much I'm looking forward to Otaku South's event on Saturday - Seven types of ramen, all being cooked by some of the biggest names in the ramen world in one venue. It's going to be SO much fun.

Read on for how you can win tickets to the event and, better yet, hang out with Otaku South and some of the chefs the night before for a special preview at Otaku South's kitchen.

This 2nd XLRG event is for charity and 100% of the profits from the evening are going to the Pablove Foundation, so as you're enjoying helping after helping of ramen (there will be a vegetarian option) you're also helping fund pediatric cancer research. Win-win.

Each food ticket is $11. Tickets to stay and see Guilty Pleasures are $15 each. Ramen service starts at 5pm and is open to all ages till 7pm. So here's a few tips for the evening:

  • Get your tickets in advance (click here). The lines will be long, you don't want to spend time waiting in both the ticket purchase line and THEN the food line so buy them now, go right to the end of the rainbow for that pot o' noodles.
  • If you're staying for the show , get the combo show + food ticket, then get another one or two food tickets. Trust me you'll want to eat more than one bowl.
  • Some of my very smart food-loving friends are enlisting the help of their food-loving friends and going as a group so everybody gets a chance to at least taste all of the ramen being served, and then getting more of the ones they like for themselves. That's what you'll want to do too.
  • Also, wear something loose or stretchy (or both). Then dance all of it off when Guilty Pleasures starts performing!!


Would you like to spend the evening before the event with some of the chefs? Otaku South is giving 2 ramen heads the chance to visit the kitchen and hang with a few of the chefs while they cook and prep for the event. Each person will get 2 tickets to Otaku XLRG the next day as well. To qualitfy, all you have to do is sign up here, no purchase necessary. And you won't be with just any chefs - you'll meet Yuji Haraguchi (Yuji Ramen), Ivan Orkin (Ivan Ramen) and the chef that's been named on of Japan's ramen devas, Shigetoshi Nakamura (Ramen Lab). If you love ramen, this is your chance to really immerse yourself in it and hang with the best.

This is going to be a kick ass event and with all profits going to Pablove so go hungry and treat yourself to, in turn, help them. Their story is both heartbreaking and heartwarming so I encourage you to check out what they do. Hell, check it out anyway because the organization is doing awesome things to help families whose children have cancer.

Now, if you can't make it that night but still want to contribute, Sarah Gavigan (Otaku South) and her friends have a specific fund to which the night's profits will go. It's the Teddy Berger-Greer fund, and you can donate by clicking here.

If you do go to the event, and you plan on posting to Twitter or Instagram, don't forget to tag all your posts/pictures #OtakuXLRG!

Olive & Sinclair - more than chocolate

Added on by Tabitha.

I got to take a tour of the new Olive & Sinclair factory last week with some local bloggers and writers. We tasted new products and got an insider's look at the chocolate making process. There's something about seeing how something's made, especially when it's made with such love, that brings a deeper appreciation of a product.

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