I’ve been anxiously awaiting the new Burger Up on 12 South for months. As my trip to China drew near, they were getting closer and closer to opening the doors. My hope was that they would open before I left so I wouldn’t miss out on the grand opening…I hate when I miss out on these things you know!

But the day came for me to board my flight and sadly, no Burger Up yet. Fast forward 2 weeks when I arrive back in Nashville after eating loads and loads of Chinese food. With an intense burger craving, I plotted where to go to get my fix. Lo and behold, what do you know? I hadn’t, in fact, missed out on the opening of our new burger joint. Instead I was just in time, as the doors were opening that very weekend!

I’d previously gotten a sneak peek at the menu from Chef Chris Hyler, and was so excited to try so many things, but that night it was all about the burger. And it did not disappoint.

My burger served South Carolina style with Pimento cheese

Big, juicy, and way more than this girl could eat in one sitting, it completely satisfied my hankering for a good ol’ American burger.

We also ordered the Spicy Crab fontina habenero fondue with grilled ciabatta, and it was delicious. Sinful, rich, and delicious.

Some of the other tempting items on the preview* menu and on my list of things to try very, very soon:

Baby spinach salad with warm Benton bacon aged balsamic vinaigrette, grape tomatoes and fried local goat cheese croquette

Roasted beet, local goat cheese, and red onion over mixed field greens with white truffle aged sherry vinaigrette

Sliders 3 ways – Benton bacon and cabot white cheddar, Portobello with blue cheese mornay, Turkey with cherry sage aioli

Po Boy- choice of fried shrimp, crab cake, trout, or oyster, blue cheese house slaw, fresh local tomaotes, spicy lemon lime remoulade

Truffle fries with honey dijon aioli

Fried house pickles with buttermilk ranch

Quinoa and black bean burger with cilantro lime creme fraiche

In fact, I might just make my way over there next Monday night to sample a couple of these since they are participating in Eat Out for Nashville!

Burger Up
2901 12th Ave S
(12th and Paris)
Nashville, TN 37204

*these were on the menu on opening night, but as the weeks go by, they could be making tweaks


As Nashville begins to dry out, many are looking for ways that they can help. Some of you may not be physically able to lend a hand in the clean up efforts, but a week from today an event will take place that should be easy for anyone and everyone to participate in, because all you have to do is eat!

Nashville restaurants and food media are pulling together to organize “Eat Out for Nashville”, a charity event that will benefit the flood victims of Middle Tennessee. On Monday, May 17th, participating restaurants will donate 50% of their proceeds* to the Tennessee Emergency Response Fund of the Community Fund of Middle Tennessee. Doug Hogrefe, owner of Amerigo, is the one responsible for this brilliant (and generous) idea, and was the first one to add his restaurants to the list.

Now the word is starting to spread and others are coming on board, including one restaurant that has barely been in business for a week! Here’s who we’ve got so far:

The Acorn
Amerigo (both locations: West End & Cool Springs)
Baja Burrito
Bravo Gelato (NOTE: Village Green location open until 9 pm Monday night)
Burger Up
Cha Chah
Garden Brunch Cafe (breakfast and lunch only)
Holland House
Jimmy Kelly’s
Lazzaroli Pasta (open 10-6)
Lazziz Persian Restaurant
The Melting Pot
Menchie’s Yogurt*
Miro District
Nana Rosa
Nuvo Burrito

O’Charley’s (click here for participating locations)
Paradise Park Trailer Resort
The Perch
Pied Piper Creamery
Rumours Wine Bar 12 South
Sopapilla’s

Sparkle Cupcake Company
Stoney River (Cool Springs and West End locations)
Watermark
Qdoba- 3 locations:
Nashville: 2019 West End Ave (by Vandy)
Brentwood: 782 Old Hickory Blvd (by Target)
Hendersonville: 300 Indian Lake Blvd (by Regal Cinemas)
9 Fruits Smoothies (50 percent of sales on all “Muddy River” Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothies)

And last but certainly not least, my absolute favorite watering hole, The Patterson House , will be closed on Monday, but is still doing their part by donating 50% of their Tuesday, 5/18 business to the cause!

(List Updated 5/16)

To keep up-to-date on participating restaurants as the list grows, follow @EatOutForNash on Twitter or on Facebook.

All of you Middle Tennessee restaurant owners out there- please email EatOutForNashville@gmail.com or call Chris Chamberlain at (615) 852-7675 for more information on your participation!

NOTE: Most restaurants are donating for dinner only or for specific meals, although some are participating all day. It’s a good idea to call the restaurant in advance to confirm.

*In addition to particpating in Monday’s Eat Out for Nashville fundraiser, Menchie’s Yogurt will also be hosting a Flood Benefit Weekend on Friday 5/14 & Saturday 5/15, giving 10% of their sales to help flood victims. Customers are also encouraged to make additional monetary donations to the fund at the Menchie’s store, and as added incentive, dollar for dollar will be matched (up to $2,000). Each contributing customer will receive a Menchie’s T-shirt (while supplies last).


In case you haven’t heard the news, our beloved Nashville Farmers’ Market has risen from the flood waters and will be open for business today! Please go and support our local merchants as they need it now more than ever!!

Between the flooding of Nashville, my jet lag, and the sickness I picked up on my travels home, this week has definitely been tough. But today is a new day! Last night I got a full 7 hours of sleep (finally), and the stuffiness in my head is beginning to clear so I can actually taste food. Happiness!Now that I can taste food, I’m a little more enthusiastic about sharing the details of my final Hong Kong meals with you. These two meals were absolutely two of the best of the entire trip. If I were choosing a Top 5, they would be in it. First their was Dim Sum:


Crispy Roasted Pork-I’ve learned that the Chinese like their pork, and they do it well!

Jelly Fish- chewy texture, not much flavor

Cha Siu Baau (Barbecue Pork Buns)
served 2 ways:
Baked with Crunchy Top

and
Steamed, fluffy bun

Both~DELICIOUS!

Fried Tofu with sweet dipping sauce – actually couldn’t stop eating these little nuggets!

Noodles with Beef in Dark Bean Sauce -again, had to pull myself away

Spring Rolls

Phoenix Talons –or as we know them, Chicken Feet.

Perhaps not a delicacy to me, but yet, they’re not as bad as they look.

White CarrotCake” (actually not a carrot cake at all, it’s made with radish. Click here to learn more)

Abalone Pastry -this was incredible.

the crust tasted like a sweet corn muffin…oh so good!

Bok Choy with Tomato

Sesame Balls (no filling)

Shumai -pork & mushroom dumpling topped with roe (pic below)

That meal could have been my last impression of Hong Kong cuisine, and it would have been a great one. But Samuel knew of my weakness for Thai food, so he made sure my very last meal was at the best Thai restaurant in town – Wong Chun Chun. Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm. Written words cannot possibly express the sheer joy I experienced as all of these flavors danced on my palate.
Thailand Pomelo with Prawns Salad


Oh my goodness. This salad will forever be etched in my memory! Made up of the Pomelo fruit, peanuts, green onion, red onion, sprouts, a dab of fish sauce, and a dash of dried shrimp for seasoning, there is no doubt that I am going to try to recreate this dish very, very soon. The main problem will be the lack of Pomelo fruit, but I think substituting grapefruit might work if I adjust the other ingredients to make up for the added bitterness.
(UPDATE: I just found Pomelo at Publix!! Yippee!)

Pork, Beef, and Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce



Fried Morning Glory
with Balachan
(also know as “hollow vegetable” with
spicy sauce)



Red Curry with Scallops



Prawn Sashimi with spicy, spicy sauce!


And then there was my drink. I’d already had a few of these on the trip and couldn’t resist one more fattening glass of it:
Iced Coconut Milk
Pure Delight.


And that’s where my journey ends. I hope that you’ve enjoyed following along and I’ve inspired you to be a little adventurous in your eating. Try something new and foreign–you never know what new love you might find!

(In case you missed out on earlier posts, just click here, here, here, here, and here!)

Welcome Home?

Well, I can’t say that coming home to Nashville has been exactly what I had imagined. Today was going to be the day I gave you the last post in my China series, but I’ve decided to hold off. Nashville has more to worry about right now than my eating adventures.

In case you haven’t heard, hours upon hours of rain this weekend turned into flooding and now our beautiful city is underwater.

Whether you live here or not, there are many ways you can help, and the Nashvillest.com website has the most comprehensive list of just how to do so.

For those that live here, keep thinking positive thoughts. We’ll get through this. Even if the national news media doesn’t seem to notice or care that we had people drowning, houses floating down interstates, and major landmarks flooding.

For those of you that don’t live here, please just keep sending your love our way. We need it right now.

Photo Credit: Nashville Flood by rachaelmoore

The next stop on my journey was Zengcheng, a county-level city within Guangzhou, where we stayed at a gorgeous resort high up in the mountains (photo at left). With 36 natural hot springs, a beautiful pool and spa, it would have been a wonderful place to vacation with my honey. Unfortunately, he was 8,000 miles away.

Once we arrived and dropped our things in our hotel rooms, Tony, the owner of the local factory, took us on an excursion to a local point of interest- an eco-tourism park at the foot of the highest waterfall in China. We arrived too late in the day to hike the trails up to the waterfall, but were able to enjoy the picturesque surrounding area, which including perusing the vendor stalls set up in the park.

Vendors in the park. Note the waterfall on the mountain in background.

An elixir of alcohol and lizard. Tasty, I’m sure.

Another tempting treat.

After purchasing a few goodies from the local merchants and walking around a nearby reservoir, it was time for dinner at Zengcheng Resort with Tony and several of his friends (including the owner of the resort and some local government officials).

On the menu:

BBQ Chicken (this dish was special ordered 1 hour before arrival-a special treat for me! delicious)
Water Spinach (the “hollow” vegetable)
Spicy Beef with Peppers
Thinly Sliced Potatoes
BBQ Ribs (pictured below) dare I say it? as good as some of the best ribs I’ve had here in the South!
Tofu with Pork
Mushroom Mix
Fried Snake (shown below)- Yes, I was apprehensive, but it turned out to be quite good


Sweet Potatoes in Sweet Soup (I think this was dessert, as it was served last and much later than all the other dishes)
And then the fun began….Toasting, toasting, and more toasting.

The owner of the resort toasting me–then requesting that I chug the entire glass of wine! I oblige, but only once. From there on out I stuck with sipping.

The next day after touring the factory in Zengcheng, it was time to move on to another factory in another city about an hour way. Same routine- factory tour, then eating! This was my life for 10 days!! Our lunch with this group included: Pigeon, Pork & Lotus Meatballs, Bok Choy, Goose, Deep Fried Cabbage, Baby Cabbage with Mushrooms, Fish Soup, Fried Mushrooms (these were battered and fried but not greasy, the type of flour used was very powdery), Beef with Peppers & Onions, and Fish in a light sauce with Mushrooms.

Then, guess what? We drove to yet another factory in another city- Shenzhen. You got it. Factory tour, then eating! Dinner at this local restaurant was very similar to the restaurant in Wenzhou in that there were displays full of plated food to inspect and choose from instead of menus.

Choosing dinner in Shenzhen

I finally got to see the “hollow vegetable” in it’s fresh state

Making fresh seafood decisions

I think this one looks good!

Dinner included:

Mushrooms in Abalone Sauce with Bok Choy (the sauce tasted like KFC gravy)
BBQ Pig (the whole thing on a platter. I’m sparing you the sight of it)
Fish 3 ways: Steamed, Deep Fried with Pork and Bean Curd, and Cooked with Celery
Water Spinach (the “hollow” vegetable)
Mantis Shrimp (shown below, and still alive in the pic above)
It might have been ugly, but the meat was sweet like lobster. Also, it’s not really a shrimp, click here for further explanation.


And last but not least, what I thought were just ordinary dinner rolls:


Instead, there was a surprise inside.

Baked BBQ Pork Buns! YUM!

After this fantastic final meal in mainland China, it was time to head back to Hong Kong for a couple of days as I wrapped up my Asian adventure. Stay tuned tomorrow to hear about my final meals –two of my favorites for the entire trip!

The next stop on my journey Guangzhou, China’s third largest city, is known as the food haven of the Republic of China. Eating is a big part of Chinese culture, but for this particular area, that doesn’t really adequately describe their way of life. These people are known not just for eating, but for eating everything! In fact, it is often said that Cantonese people “eat everything that swims except a submarine, everything that flies except an airplane, and everything with four legs except a table”. Almost five days in the area not only allowed for some free time to explore, but also meant plenty of food adventures, so settle in and prepare yourself for a long post….

The first night we arrived, two of the local guys from the Guangzhou sourcing office picked us up at the airport and became our unofficial tour guides for the rest of the stay. Sensing that I might be in need of a break from the heavy, multi-course Chinese meals we’d been having, Samuel had them arrange something a little different for our dinner. With approximately 1000 tables, Japan Fusion is touted as being the largest Japanese restaurant in Asia. You can’t imagine the size of this place! I was scared to go to the bathroom by myself for fear of getting lost. Seriously.

Dinner was definitely lighter than the fare we’d been consuming, and a nice break before the multi-course Cantonese meals that lie ahead. Our Japanese menu: assorted sushi and sashimi, two mushroom dishes, cheese smothered tofu, snapper sashimi and fried snapper (the fish was brought to the table live on a skewer for presentation before taking back to the kitchen to fry. I thought I would spare you that sight), and spicy mussels.

The next day we had lunch with a local factory contact at Jumbo Pearl restaurant. As a whole, this was definitely one of the better meals of the trip. The menu:

Spicy Beef with Peppers


Freshwater Fish with Yellow Bean Sauce
(shown below- delectable!)


Pork with Peppers, Ginkgo, Mushrooms and Onion
(or “Spicy Pig Twice Cooked Pork” as the menu stated)


Fish cooked in Cabbage


Alligator with Garlic, Mushrooms and Broccoli
(shown below)

This was delicious, so I inquired about the ingredients used in the preparation- the alligator was fried then added to a mixture of oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, salt, ginger, and garlic



Fried Mushrooms with Walnuts and Ginkgo (shown below)

Wow! I couldn’t quit eating this. The mushrooms were not fried like what we think of when we say fried mushrooms. There was no batter on them, the ‘fried’ just referred to the style of cooking, pan-frying.



Pork Broth Soup (All the guys loved this and even had second helpings. Gray and almost tasteless, I personally thought it was the worst soup of the whole trip. )

Snails“- at least that’s what they were calling them, but I don’t really think that’s their proper name. They’re pictured below in the red sauce. Anyone have any idea what they are?


Served piping hot with toothpicks to dig out the wormy creature inside, they were -believe it or not- quite good!

That was lunch! So, so, so much food, but of course we had another big dinner ahead that night at Bing Sheng Restaurant. On the menu there:


Pork 3 ways- Crispy Barbecued Roast Pork, Fried Pork Belly (thick layer of fat, but quite tasty), and Thinly Sliced Barbecue Pork Belly (paper thin & very good!)

BBQ Duck

Water Spinach with Beans in Vinegar (this vegetable they just refer to as “hollow” vegetable was served at many meals)

Whole Fish served various ways:
1) Fried Fish Head and Tailway too bony for me to deal with

2) Sashimi with bowls of various toppings including shredded ginger, spring onions, herbs, and crunchies to create your own tasting spoon (pictured above) so wonderful that I lost count of how many I ate!

3) Fish Skin – very strange rubbery texture (shown in pic below)

4) Egg with Fish “insides”they don’t let anything go to waste!

The next day we lunched at Mao Jing restaurant, (named for Chairman Mao) a restaurant known for their spicy food. You know I love some spiciness!

Greeters at Mao Jing restaurant (note the statue of Mao to the far left)

On the menu:

Fava Beans again (I love these things!)
These beans were listed on the menu as Sha Guo Can Dou, which Eric said translates to Frosted Pan No Sauce- so basically just describing the cooking method.

Duck, Yellow Eel, and Cow insides (???) – yeah, not my favorite
Frog – listed on the menu as Gan Guao Tian Ji (translates to Dry Pan Frog)
Glass Noodles with Spicy Sauce
Whole Chicken in a Pot -great flavors, tender & juicy
Pork with Peppers
Steamed Cabbage with Garlic Sauce
(pictured below) - Scrumptious!


Pork Soup- and this is where things got really interesting……


Can you tell what I am holding in my hand? Perhaps not. That would be a pig hoof. The pork flavored soup arrived with a piece of leg bone protruding from the bowl, a set of plastic gloves and a straw. Anyone want to guess what you do with the straw? Why, you insert it into the leg bone and suck out the marrow! Not exactly my cup of tea, but at least I can say I did it.

That night we dined at Shui He Tian Restaurant in the Panyu district of Guangzhou. It was explained to me that this was a “locals only” place. Tucked back behind several buildings, it was difficult even for the local with us to find after a couple of phone calls, so I’m pretty sure no tourists ever stumble upon it!

Appetizers of pickled green papaya and boiled peanuts started us off and were followed by:

Scallops with Black Bean Sauce -a bite of perfection (pictured above)

Fish head and 1,000 year old egg with ginger- the egg isn’t really 1,000 years old, but the dark color made it a little scary. As I had discovered with other dishes, it wasn’t as bad as it looked. Not great, but not bad.

Sweet Potato Leaf cooked with Pork and Garlic

Assorted Mushrooms with Carrots and Green Onion

Spicy Fried Shrimp with Peanuts (yes, yes, yes!)

Crispy Skin Barbecue Pork

Steamed Fish with Ginger, Spring Onion, and Mushrooms (very clean, fresh flavors)

Crispy Noodles with Mushrooms and Onions in Oyster Sauce (like Ramen)

Warm Almond Milk- served in a bowl like soup, this was very soothing

After dinner we decided to burn off some calories with a hike to the local mall. Okay, so we weren’t really looking to burn calories, that was just an added bonus. We were actually in search of dessert, specifically Ginger Milk. Samuel knew this place served the best ginger milk around, and in his opinion, my trip would not be complete without trying it.

Ginger Milk Curd, or simply Ginger Milk as they called it, is a warm Chinese dessert that originated in this very district of Guangdong- Panyu. Ingredients include sugar, ginger, and milk, with the key to this particular recipe being water buffalo milk. The preparation takes some skill to make sure it gets hot but not too hot. The photo below show the two girls preparing our bowls (note the action shot of the milk in the air as she stirs it just so).

Once the mixture is poured into a bowl and allowed to cool for two to three minutes, it solidifies into a custard. Perfectly yummy, warm, and comforting, this was definitely one of the high points of the entire trip.

Ginger Milk in Panyu

At this point of my journey, I’d had 6 very full work days. I’ve only been sharing the fun food stuff with you, not the hours I’ve spent touring factories and traveling between cities. Every day I’d been averaging 12-14 hours of almost non-stop work or travel with little time for anything else other than eating. After 2 days of walking the floor of the Canton Import and Export fair, I was a little burnt out. Fortunately, we made it through the show in less time than we thought it would take, leaving us about 5 extra hours to explore and shop before hitting the road again! On this particular day, we were also joined by Fanny, one of my contacts in the Guangzhou area. As much as I enjoyed traveling with the guys, it was nice to have another female around for a little while.

Fanny, Me, and Eric at The Chen Family Temple

After sightseeing, we had lunch at a beautiful restaurant on a lake with lush landscaping. The food here was just adequate, but that’s okay, because the surroundings made up for it. The table was filled with BBQ Goose; Mushrooms, Scallops, Peppers, Garlic & Greens; Fish Soup; Traditional Bok Choy; Pork with Ginkgo and Peppers; Steamed Fish with Green Onions; and Pork Bun with Mushrooms & Spring Onions.

At this meal, the guys also ordered Apple Cider Vinegar to drink. When they informed me of this, I was a little bewildered considering the only apple cider vinegar I knew of was to cook with, not to drink. When it arrived in a wine bucket, on ice, in a bottle just like you’d be served white wine, I was a little less fearful. Turns out it was quite refreshing. Oh, the many delightful discoveries you can make when you’re willing to try new things!

The desserts here were better than the lunch dishes: Egg Cups (pictured below)- little tarts that reminded me of mini chess pies; Coconut Gelatin- even though I was fairly stuffed I ate more than one serving; Ginger Milk- this was not nearly as good as what we had the night before at the mall. Samuel explained that it was because the milk was not as pure. Instead they used 2 kinds of milk blended together, not just the water buffalo milk.

Egg Cups – the Chinese version of Chess Pie

After lunch it was time to hit the road again, traveling to Pattra Resort, high in the mountains of Zengcheng, another city in Guangzhou. This stop of the trip is a story in itself, so it will have to wait until next week. I hope that you guys are still enjoying following the details of my trek through China. I promise only a couple more posts and we’ll be at the end of the trip. Some of the best parts are still to come!!

West Lake, Hangzhou
.
I’m torn between sharing with you a detailed report of every single thing I ate while in China or only sharing the high (or at least very interesting ) points. A full listing would be a nice reference for me to look back upon one day, but the volume is so great that I think I’ll probably bore you to tears. For instance, there are some meals where I tasted at least 15 dishes, but maybe only 2 really stood out. My meals in Ningbo are an example. Although many items were good, the only things that stood out were the fava beans that I ate with abandon and an Australian Lobster.
Have you ever eaten a fava bean? They are somewhat similar to a lima bean, but bigger and creamier. I hope I can find them back in Nashville because they are incredible!! The lobster was probably the best I’ve ever had– sweet, buttery and melt-in-your mouth good. A quick listing of other foods I encountered during my 2 meals in Ningbo: Grouper, Shrimp, Bamboo, local greens, seaweed salad, beef & peppers (spicy!), thinly sliced beef in vinegar, fish soup, shrimp fried rice, boiled shrimp, fried shrimp, white vegetable (? this is the only way they could explain it*- see pic below), egg whites with asparagus & red pepper, abalone, white fish, crab, dried fish, peanuts, and fresh dates.


“White Vegetable”

.

After Ningbo we moved on to Hangzhou, which was one of the nicest places I visited. Patrick, our local factory contact, treated us to an afternoon boat ride on the beautiful West Lake (see pic below of Eric, Patrick and me).


After some relaxing time on the calm waters, Patrick took us to dinner at a fantastic restaurant nearby. The guys pored over the menu for several minutes, carefully choosing each dish. I was fascinated by the time they took in ordering. This wasn’t just for this meal, but almost every meal! I love that they care so much.

All of their concentration paid off. Here’s a look at dinner:
Mushrooms with onions and peppers- so, so good
Bamboo shoot with sweet sauce- we had these in Ningbo too, but I wasn’t crazy about the tart vinegar used in the dish there. This, on the other hand, was delicious!
Lotus root
Hot & Spicy soup with bean curds
Mushrooms with Goose Liver Sauce -interesting flavors. From the sound of it, I didn’t think I would like it, but I did. Enough to have a third helping!
Hangzhou-style Shrimp
Slow Braised Pork
Carrots with Sweet Sauce (pic below)-gorgeous, crisp, and definitely one of the top 10 dishes of the trip


After dinner we checked into our beautiful hotel in Haining where the following day, after a tour of the factory, had lunch with the owner and Patrick. This is a good time to mention one item that became a recurring favorite dish of mine throughout the trip: Mushrooms! The mushrooms at both my Hangzhou and Haining meals were incredible. I was in heaven with the many exotic varieties to try in China. I probably could have subsisted on mushroom dishes alone for the entire stay and been satisfied!

Case in point below:
beautiful black mushrooms with the most amazing texture



Lunch in Haining:
Black Mushrooms (pictured above)-LOVE!
Fried Yellow Eel with Sweet Sauce
Shrimp with Gingko
Cooked Local Lettuce
Boiled Sea Cucumber (jelly-like in texture, I could only do a couple bites. And to think I loved it raw!)
Lobster in broth
Chopped Hot peppers with Pine Nuts-spicy, spicy!
Chopped Salad
Chicken (the whole thing — head and all)
Sweet Potatoes



And then there was dessert. If you know much about Chinese food, you might know that they typically finish their meals with fresh fruit, not baked goods like we normally do. Most of the non-fruit dessert offerings they do have are a litte strange to my Western taste buds (see this recap from Hong Kong). However, we capped off this meal with a doozie of a dessert. Can you guess what these circles might be?




Fried Ice Cream!!!

A slightly crunchy outer shell gave way to a cool, extremely creamy ice cream.


And I mean extremely creamy. Fabulous. I’m getting fatter just thinking about it.

That’s it for the Zhejiang Province. Next up I’m off to Guangzhou for a few days. Stay tuned for even more interesting eats!
*I really wish that I could offer you the English translations of many of the foods I ate, but can’t, because in most cases, everything was listed in Chinese characters! The guys were as helpful as they could be, but some things just didn’t translate.