*Note: Please excuse the crappy pictures. I took my small digital camera with me because the thought of lugging my heavy-ass 5d mkii makes my poor back twinge with phantom pain.
We’re in California, aka our favoritest place in the world! *does ten happy jumping jacks in a row*
I did my undergrad in Berkeley and lived in Pasadena for a few of the sunniest, most delicious years of my life. My best friends are all in Cali, and so are my favorite foods, and I’ve managed to infect Mike with enough love for the state that over the past couple of years, we’ve visited twice a year.
The only bad thing about Cali is: there are too many delicious things to eat. Do we go back to our old favorites or look up new places on Yelp? Mike isn’t really a breakfast person, but I’ve been dragging him out to breakfast as often as I can, because that just means it’s one more place we get to tick off our list.
First up is Yahaira’s Cafe.
We share as many of our meals as we can, since portions in Cali are bigger than our tummies. We opted for the Lomitos Scrambled: Tender pork stewed in tomato, garlic, and scrambled into eggs. Served with guac, home fried potatoes, and tortilla. It doesn’t look pretty, I know, but it’s actually pretty frikkin’ good, especially when you take the time to lovingly shmear guac evenly onto the tortilla before piling the pork, egg, and potatoes to make the perfect bite.
For lunch, we went to my absolute favorite bakery: Porto’s. Porto’s is a must for anyone visiting LA. No arguments about it. The pastries are always freshly-baked and they keep their prices low.
This is what I literally dream about when I’m not in LA. Seriously, I’ve dreamt of their cheese rolls and woken up with drool all over my pillow. These babies are amazing little pillows of perfection. Creamy ricotta cheese hugged in an airy roll of puff pastry and topped with sugar before being baked to a crunchy caramelized state.
They are so deceptively light that I used to inhale three of them in one go. At 70 cents per roll, this won’t hurt your wallet either. But now that my metabolism isn’t what it used to be, I have to limit myself to just one roll at a time. One roll that’s always gone too soon. 😦
Since cheese rolls aren’t like, a sound source of nutrition or whatever, we also ordered a pan con bistek. Marinated steak, potato sticks, grilled onions, tomatoes, and mojo (Cuban garlic sauce) on Cuban bread. Maybe it’s because their pastries are so amazing, but I always find Porto’s sandwiches a bit lacking. Don’t get me wrong, they’re good, but . . . not mind-blowing. They need more sauce, for one. And they’d be better if they were warmer.
Next time, I’m just gonna gorge myself on the cheese rolls and the flan bread pudding.
For dinner, we headed over to yet another old favorite: Savoy Kitchen.
Everyone says the best Hainanese chicken rice is in Singapore, but I sooo disagree. And I’ve eaten chicken rice at more than a dozen locally-acclaimed spots in Singapore, so I know what I’m talking about, dammit. Anthony Bourdain once said that Hainanese chicken rice is regarded with almost religous fervor in Singapore. Ask a group of friends where the best one is to be found and it won’t be long before they devolve into a loud (friendly-ish) argument over the answer. Everyone has their own favorite place and feels equally strongly about it. This is absolutely true. Savoy Kitchen is mine. And if you disagree, I will sit on you.
The chicken is always perfectly cooked so the meat is fork-tender but not so soft that it has no bite to it. Same with the rice. Richly-infused with garlic, chicken, and ginger, the rice is fluffy, flavorful, and dangerously easy to shovel into your mouth. It comes with dark soy sauce, homemade chili sauce, and homemade garlic/ginger oil mix. I ignore the soy sauce and chili and go straight for the garlic/ginger. This garlic/ginger oil thing is, for me, what pushes Savoy Kitchen into the lead. It’s fresh, savory, and so lip-smackingly good I always find myself picking at it, licking it like Nutella even after all the rice and chicken is gone.
And I wonder why my jeans are always tighter after a visit to Cali . . .
Whatever, it’s so worth it.