Nashville Hot Grilled Cheese (and it’s fried) – Pepperfire Hot Chicken

Growing up in Nashville ages ago, I never imagined that Nashville Hot Chicken would become the quintessential food to define this city.  From a landscape where the only restaurant one needed to know was Prince’s, Nashville now has a number of options spanning all corners of the city with almost all being featured in some form at least once on Food Network.  I won’t go into the debate on which has the best chicken or which has the hottest, but I would recommend trying as many places as you can and deciding which one is for you.

While it was the hot chicken that brought us to Pepperfire Hot Chicken, my biggest surprise was another signature item on their menu – the Peppercheese.

The Peppercheese is a grilled cheese sandwich made with pepper jack cheese, breaded and then deep fried.  While this is definitely not for those on a diet, it will appeal to the inner foodie in even the most die-hard of health nuts.

After ordering and picking up our Peppercheese, the first thing we noted was that the bread slices were thicker, along the lines of Texas toast, but we felt like this was probably necessary to maintain texture and integrity of the sandwich while frying.  However, while the bread appeared to be a substantial part of the dish, Pepperfire maintained the perfect ratio of cheese to bread so that every bite yielded melted, gooey, hot cheese that’s surrounded by a fluffy, pillow of bread with the right amount of crunch along the exterior.

It’s also important to note that the frying on the Peppercheese is spot on.  There were no surprise oil gushes or puddles when biting into it or when wrapping your hands around it.

For those thinking, “why would I order a sandwich, when I came here for the hot chicken”, never fear.  The sandwich works perfectly to complement any of the hot chicken dinners on the menu, or you can order the Tender Royale, which is a Peppercheese and 3 chicken tenders.

Pepperfire Hot Chicken is located at 1000 Gallatin Avenue in Nashville, TN.

For more pictures from Pepperfire, check out our instagram.


Another Year, Another Reboot

2017 has come and gone, and with it, another year of blog posts that could have been.  The year started out with renewed vigor, and an idea on how to blog more frequently, but by the middle of they year, we were already losing steam.  It also didn’t help that life had suddenly put us in a position of fewer traveling opportunities.

However, with a new year comes a renewed desire to spread our love of food.  While we may not get to travel as much, we are lucky to live in an area with amazing food choices.  The blog will continue to include the amazing food we try on our travels, but as we are more staycationers at this time, we will focus on our food travels around us.

So welcome 2018, and welcome Eatsward Bound, Nashville-edition!


Donuts Done Right – Five Daughters Bakery (Nashville, TN)

Growing up in Nashville, there was only one donut store I knew as a child – Krispy Kreme.  I think they had a contract with all the Catholic schools because it was guaranteed that anytime we were having a school breakfast or fundraiser, boxes of the original glazed and the chocolate frosted were ever present.  As Krispy Kreme grew in popularity, they started opening more brick and mortar shops, and the famous “Hot Now” sign became a beacon calling all fans on to yummy freshness.

This past Easter, Sonia and I traveled to Nashville to spend the holiday with my family.  I did some research as usual on places to visit as part of the donut crawls we are doing whenever we travel and came up with a few places.  For this trip though, the crawl didn’t happen as some places were closed or the donuts were no longer being made.  In the end, we made it to one place, and after having their donuts, I wouldn’t have wanted to try any others.

Five Daughters Bakery is a family owned and operated business with 3 locations in the Nashville area.  One of their specialties is the 100 layer doughnut (their version of a croissant doughnut), and it comes in a variety of flavors with the staples being maple glaze, vanilla creme, chocolate sea salt, the king kong (which is a maple bacon doughnut), and vanilla sugar.  In addition to these, they offer additional flavors each month which can be found on their web site.

From the moment we stepped into the Five Daughters location in the Factory in Franklin, we were in awe of the variety of baked goods and found ourselves resisting the urge to order one of everything.  In the end, we were able to exercise some restraint and ordered a maple glaze, a chocolate sea salt, a king kong, and a lemon blueberry.  We also ordered a Quinnamon roll because they looked so good.

Our box of deliciousness:


Sonia and I have had different versions of croissant donuts, and we both agree that these are the best we’ve ever had.  For me, I feel the novelty of these types of donuts rested in the texture and layers, but Five Daughters has elevated these doughnuts beyond that.   The texture of these were similar to that of a churro, having a nice crunch to the exterior with a soft, pillowy inside.  And the quality of the ingredients and the flavors elevate these beyond not only any other croissant doughnut we’ve had but also over most of the regular donuts.

Each bite for each of the doughnuts was a burst of flavors that took center stage over the dough itself.  It was like the dough was simply a platform used to showcase the maple flavor or the lemon and blueberry.  In particular, with the lemon blueberry, we forgot we were even eating a croissant doughnut and found ourselves thinking it to be more like a sip of blueberry lemonade.

Another highlight for us was the king kong.  When you first see the size and amount of bacon on it, you think that it is going to be a very bacon-y bite (which should not be read to be a bad thing), but then you take that bite, and you’re greeted with all the best flavors you could want for breakfast.  The blend of the saltiness from the bacon with the sweetness of the maple glaze, all with just the right amount of dough leads to perfection.

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While we may not have been able to do a full donut crawl in Nashville, I am glad we were able to get to Five Daughters Bakery.  I may have grown up on Krispy Kreme, but Five Daughters takes Nashville donuts to a whole new level, and I cannot wait until I can get back home to get some more and try some of their other flavors.  Special shout out to the staff also, who were beyond helpful and courteous.

Five Daughters Bakery has multiple locations.  The one we visited is located at 230 Franklin Road (inside the Factory), Franklin, TN 37064.

Churro – It’s Spanish for Donut

For the second installment of our donut crawl, we traveled to Madrid, Spain.  While Spain did have donuts – Dunkin’ Donuts has locations in and around Madrid under the name Dunkin’ Coffee, and McDonalds and Burger King both offer donuts as part of their menus – Sonia and I opted to go with a more local and traditional form of fried dough – the churro.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints and a bit of jet lag, we only made 2 of our stops.  Our first stop on our trail of churros was Chocolateria Valor.

Before we get into the churros, I want to note that Chocolateria Valor are the brick and mortar chocolate shops for the Valor company, which is one of Spain’s premier chocolate makers.  You may step into the shop looking for churros and chocolate, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself distracted by the other desserts and sweets they have to offer.  If my eyes could eat, I think I would have been in trouble.

Sticking to our game plan though, we each had an order of the traditional hot chocolate with an order of churros.

The portion size ended up being 4 churros with a small cup of chocolate.  This actually ended up being more than we were planning to eat, so depending on how hungry you are, 1 order of each can easily be shared by 2 people.  That being said, Sonia and I had no problem finishing the 2 orders.

First, let’s cover the chocolate.  We were surprised by how thick the chocolate was.  For us, this was more a dipping chocolate, so we weren’t sure about drinking it once we finished our churros.  Sonia tried and just couldn’t finish it as drink because of how thick it was.  The highlight for us with the chocolate though was the flavor.  This cup isn’t simply a cup of chocolate but rather it was chocolate with a subtle hint of added spices.  This wasn’t even one of their gourmet chocolate drinks, but it did come across as one.

Now let’s move on to the churros.  The first things we noticed was that the churros weren’t textured or sugared, and then we noticed that they seemed to be cut pieces from something larger.  I guess we were expecting something more in line with the churros you get from Disney or Costco, but these are definitely different.

For us, the churros had were soft and eggy.  There wasn’t anything to note about the flavor of the churro itself, which is why the chocolate played a big role in the flavor for us.  Our biggest issue with the churros though was that they were very greasy.  By the end of the meal, both our hands were covered in grease, and we both used a good amount of napkins to wipe some of it off from our hands while we were eating.  To be fair though, I did wonder if the greasiness was more a factor because of how busy the place was at the time we were there.  They were continuously making churros and setting them to drain, but because of the volume and turnover at this time, I’m wondering if they were going from oil to plate too quickly.

Valor - Churro 2Valor - ChurroValor - Greasy Hand

Chocolateria Valor has multiple locations.  The one we visited is at Calle del Postigo de San Martín, 7, 28013.

Our next stop was Chocolateria San Gines, which is probably the most well-known churro spot in Madrid.

Again we had the churros with a cup of chocolate, but this time, we opted to split the order, which came with 6 churros.  For us, the churros here had a texture more in line with what we thought of as a churro.  Like the one at Valor, the inside was nice and fluffy but overall, the churro here was a little firmer and less greasy.  Also, the churro had a bit of saltiness to it.

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As for the chocolate, San Gines wasn’t as thick as the one at Valor, but it was more drinkable.  While it didn’t have any added spice flavor, it did have a nice sweetness to it.  We also noted that as the chocolate sat, it did begin to thicken.

Chocolateria San Gines is located at San Gines passage 5 in Madrid.

Kono’s is Kalua Pork

For us, the one dish that is synonymous with Hawaii is the kalua pork.  On our last trip, we ate the pork at the Paradise Cove luau, but this time, we did a little more digging on restaurants serving it.  Since we had to drive to wherever we picked, we decided to go to the Kono’s location in Honolulu.  It’s right next to the Leonard’s on Kapahulu so dessert is just a few steps away.

Konos - MenuKonos - Store Front

The first thing we noticed when we walked into Kono’s was the amazingly helpful and friendly staff.  They greeted us immediately and asked if this was our first time at Kono’s.  After we confirmed that it was, they walked us through the menu and told us their personal picks.  We settled on the pork plate lunch which came with a nice serving of pork, rice, and salad.  For the salad, they include a papaya seed dressing, and for the pork, there’s a guava BBQ sauce.

Konos - Pork Plate

The pork had a nice flavor and saltiness that was complemented well with the sweetness of the BBQ sauce.  Sonia and I shared the plate, but from the moment we had our first bites, we regretted the choice to share.  While the pork is served with the BBQ sauce, Kono’s also makes their own hot sauces.  Sonia was a fan of the Habanero Hot Sauce and grabbed a bottle to take home.  While waiting for our meal, Sonia overheard another customer ask for another sauce and discovered there are more sauces that you can request.  You can’t buy them, but Kono’s might want to consider adding these to the sauces for sale, because Sonia was a fan.  I wish we could remember what each sauce was, but you can see them in the below picture.  They are 3 sauces in the plastic containers in front of the bottled sauces.

Konos - Sauces

Kono’s has multiple locations, but the one we visited was the one at 945 Kapahulu Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816.

Small in Name, Big in Taste – Garlic Shrimp Food Trucks of the North Shore (Honolulu, HI)

After spending the morning, filling up on sugary treats, it was time to switch gears.  The plan for the afternoon was to leave Honolulu and head up to the North Shore for some road-side food truck fare and some amazing ocean views.  For us this was also an opportunity to sample a few plates of garlic shrimp.

Big Wave Shrimp

To start our extravaganza, we went with the garlic shrimp plate at Big Wave Shrimp.  The plate came with rice, salad and pineapple.  There is a wait from ordering to eating, but that’s because the shrimp is cooked as ordered.  The shrimp were perfectly cooked, but we did want a little more garlic flavor in the dish.  That being said out of the trucks we went to, Big Wave Shrimp was the best in look and balance of flavors.

Big Wave Shrimp - Garlic Shrimp

Big Wave Shrimp is located at 66-521 Kamehameha Highway in Haleiwa.


Giovanni's - TruckGiovanni's - Shrimp Scampi

Giovanni’s seems to be the heavy hitter when it comes to the North Shore food trucks.  When asked where we should go, almost all of the locals only had words of praise and strong recommendations for us when it came to Giovanni’s.  Based on the line when we got to the truck, it could be concluded everyone else received the same information as us.

Sonia and I shared the shrimp scampi, which came with rice and a lemon wedge.  The first thing we noticed is that some of the shrimp looked freshly cooked while the rest of it looked like it had been cooked in a previous batch and then reheated.  The shrimp that we thought had been reheated was tough and overcooked, but the rest of the shrimp was much better and easier to eat.  The highlight from Giovanni’s plate for us was the garlic.  We especially loved the added garlic served over the rice.

Givoanni’s has 2 locations, but we went to the truck at 66-472 Kamehameha Highway in Haleiwa.

Shrimp Shack

Our last stop for the day was Shrimp Shack, which we opted for because we found a coupon for it in one of the magazines we picked up at the airport.  The first thing we noticed was that Shrimp Shack had a good selection of items outside of the shrimp, so we added an order of the crab cakes to the pan-fried shrimp.

The shrimp came with rice and some melted butter on the side.  No complaints on the dish, but I would note that Shrimp Shack gave the fewest number of shrimp while the amount of rice that came with it is substantial.

Shrimp Shack is located at 53-360 Kamehameha Highway in Hauula.

Hawaii’s Other Nut: the Do-nut (Honolulu, HI)

With the start of the new year, Sonia and I are going to try something new as part of the blog.  For each destination that we visit, we will do a donut crawl to find local and unique pillowy gems about which to write.  Our first destination for the year – Hawaii.

When one thinks of Hawaii, thoughts of macadamia nuts, pineapples, coconuts, poi and kalua pork are probably more prominent than that of donuts.  To our delight though, we came across some very delicious and diverse eats.

Mr. Donut’s & Bakery

Before getting to the donuts, one thing to note is that Mr. Donut’s & Bakery is located in a downtown area so it does not have a dedicated parking area for the store.  Sonia and I found a few parking options, but all of them were paid lots, and they were not cheap.  We ended up parking at the garage at Bishop Place (1132 Bishop Street), which was about $4 for a half hour and is very close to the store.

When we entered the store, the first thing we noticed was the size of the donuts.  We immediately knew that because this was our first stop for the day, we would either be sharing or saving half for later.  While Mr. Donut’s does make a signature donut that gets rave reviews, we opted for an apple fritter and a banana frosting.

Both were good and full of flavor, but for us, these were reminiscent of Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts back home.  To be very clear, that’s not a bad thing, but when it came to taste and flavors, we were looking for something more unique and local.  If you want a good donut though to satisfy a craving, Mr. Donut’s bakery fits that bill nicely.

Mr. Donut’s & Bakery is located at 134 S. Hotel Street.

Regal Bakery

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The next stop on our donut crawl was Regal Bakery.  While there are multiple locations, we went to the Regal Bakery by the airport.  First comment, get there early.  We arrived around 11:00ish, and by that time, a good number of the donuts were sold out.  However, even with a limited selection, there was still an amazing variety to choose from – Rum and Cola, Green Tea, Strawberry Delight, Muddy, and our donut of choice the Bacon Maple.

As bacon-a-holics, Sonia and I have had more than a few bacon donuts in our time, but this topped them all.  The mix of the salty bacon with the maple glaze in proportion to the size of the donut lends to a perfectly balanced bite.  Visually, the bacon chunks just add to the delight because you can appreciate the bacon crumbles as being real bits of bacon and not something that is just bacon flavored.  In hindsight, our 2 biggest mistakes from this donut crawl were deciding to buy 1 donut to share and not trying some of the other donuts.  Mistakes we are sure not to repeat when we return here.

Regal Bakery has multiple locations in Honolulu, but the location visited can be found at 3040 Ualena Street.

Our last stop for traditional donuts was Kamehameha Bakery.  Unfortunately, we we too late to get any of their specialty donut – the poi glazed, but we made up for it by picking up some of their other baked goods.  We’ll add those pictures to our instagram shortly.  Kamehameha Bakery is located at 1284 Kalani Street.

With the donuts down, it was time to move on to the malasadas.  Malasadas are Portuguese in origin and are essentially a donut in that it is a fried ball of dough.  They come plain with granulated sugar or you can get them filled.  When trying to find the best malasada, it looks like Honolulu is split between Leonard’s and Champion.

Champion Malasadas

Based on our crawl, we hit Champion first.  While ordering, we were told that if we wanted the plain sugar malasada then we could get that one cooked now so it would be hot and fresh.  We ordered one plain as well as a custard filled one.

Champion Malasadas - Plain & HotChampion Malasadas - Plain & Hot 2Champion Malasadas - Plain & Hot 3

The plain malasada came to us right from the fryer, and I can see why they are served this way.  At Champion, the front has an view straight to the kitchen ares, so as soon as we ordered, we could see the malasada from ordering to getting dropped into the fryer to being served to us.  From the first bite, we noticed that the malasada had a nice, crunchy texture on the outside.  The inside was soft and doughy with a hint of egginess.

Champion Malasadas - CustardChampion Malasadas - Custard 2

As for the custard filled malasada, this was served from the case so it wasn’t hot from the fryer.  It was still fresh though and was filled with enough custard so that every bite had some.  While not served hot, we would still recommend trying the filled ones.  The dough is still nice and fresh with the filling being flavorful and abundant.

Champion Malasadas is located at 1926 S. Beretania Street.

Leonard’s Bakery

The other half of the malasada debate involves Leonard’s Bakery.  If you go with history, then Leonard’s holds the advantage of introducing malasadas to Hawaii.  That’s a big statement to live up to, and they do not disappoint.  Like Champion, the plain sugar malasada was served fresh and hot.  We couldn’t see back into the kitchen area, so we couldn’t tell if it was dropped in the fryer from when we ordered or if there is just a continuous flow of fresh malasadas coming out to meet the constant demand.

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Leonards - Original Malasada

Leonard’s Bakery is located at 933 Kapahulu Avenue.

After having both malasadas, we couldn’t pick a favorite, but both had clear highlights over the other.  We liked the outside of the malasadas at Champion and the inside of the ones at Leonard’s.  We can conclude though is everyone should try both and decide on their own.  In the end, you can never have enough malasadas.