And so my “eating clean” plan kinda went out of the window as I set foot in Burbank.
First stop the day after we shot Norco was Porto’s Bakery. I went there not once but TWICE in this trip. They have a location not far from the Burbank Airport if anyone is flying in through there for the Steel Challenge this year. On a side note, I am sad to say that I will NOT be attending the Steel Challenge this year (sad face for emphasis). I believe this is the last year it will be held at the Piru location. And I also believe that this year marks the 30th year anniversary of the sport! Steel was the first type of shooting competition that I shot back in the day. There is nothing like the pressure or the rush of shooting a stage five times (or four in the case of Outer Limits). Nerves are rattled, hands shake, knees quake! But I digress yet again. Back to food!
Porto’s is this amazing Cuban Bakery with the prettiest desserts that I have ever seen. Another plus side (at least for me) is that their coffee is always lava hot. They also make these amazing, mouth-watering Cuban sandwiches that packs a punch. My favorites from there (to name a few) are their mini fruit tart and the guava cheese roll. I so love Valerie for bringing me some every time we meet up in the west coast to shoot. I am glad we don’t have this in Texas because I know I won’t be able to stop myself from going there everyday!
As if that wasn’t enough, for dinner, we headed to another Cuban place called Versailles. We went to the Encino location. What prompted us to make that day Cuban day? Coincidence. Actually, more like we were inspired by Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. There was a restaurant featured that served oxtail and of course that started a conversation that went like:
Me: “Man, that looks good. I miss kare-kare (Filipino delicacy. Oxtail cooked in peanut sauce served with a side of shrimp paste).
Valerie: “I know this one place that serves really good oxtail…”
And so off we went. I, like many other people, appreciate good food. I, unlike many other people, am passionate about food. Ask my friends. Every time I go out of town to shoot, I will research the location of nearby hole in the wall restaurants before I research the course of fire. My 2007 Australasian Inter-Continental shooting competition in Thailand was motivated by food. I had discovered Thai cuisine, promptly fell in love with it and when I found out that there was a big shooting match in Thailand, I was booked for that trip before you could even utter Thom Kha!!
A visit to the L.A. area would not be complete without a visit to a chinese restaurant in Chinatown. Hop Li was the restaurant of choice. Dinner was a fun event with a bunch of my friends. Everything that was salt and peppered was ordered from squid to shrimp to pork chops and crabs. We had steamed and fried fish, shrimp and sizzling rice soup, ONE thing of steamed chinese broccoli with oyster sauce and a bunch of other stuff that I don’t know how we manage to eat. There is nothing like a big round table surrounded by friends and delicious food set on a lazy susan to bring a smile to my face. I was already trying to calculate how many extra workouts I was going to do when I go back to Texas!
And last but not the least, I just HAD to go to a Filipino place for my Filipino food fix. Toto’s was the perfect fix for that. Crispy Pata (deep fried pork thigh with just the right amount of fat and the PERFECT amount of delicious crispy skin!), Sinigang na Baboy (tamarind soup with pork), Crispy Dilis (Deep fried anchovy but not the cured type. I had to google “Dilis” for an English translation) and Daing na bangus (Fried milkfish). Mind you, I have not eaten authentic and delicious Filipino food in a while because: 1) It makes you eat TONS of rice (which I have banished from my diet) and 2) I have not found a good Filipino place in Houston that was up to my standards.
Overall, it was a wonderful trip. I can’t wait to go back!
Up next, The Double Tap match in Wichita Falls, TX!!!