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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bakery Adventure: Porto's Bakery

Porto's Bakery
3614 W Magnolia Blvd
Burbank, CA 91504

A place that's been on my "To Try" list for the longest time, Porto's Bakery is one of those bakeries that everyone and their mothers (including my own mother!) have tried, but has somehow slipped through my fingers. I've heard my friends rave about it, but I never got the chance to try it until I found myself in the Burbank area for a Conan taping. It's located a little less than a mile away from the studio so it finally all worked out for me. Yay!
We got there around 6pm-ish and the lines on both the cafe side and bakery side were massive. I have a feeling it was all people who just got off work or finished a TV taping (like myself! :P). I could've sworn some of the guys in the line were in the audience with me!
Porto's selection of baked goods is so large, I honestly wasn't sure where to begin. I knew I had to try their potato balls, cheese rolls, and guava and cheese rolls, but there was so much more to choose from, I was a bit overwhelmed!
Just look how yummy their cakes look!
Here's a recap of all the things I tried:
Potato Ball ($0.90 each)
POTATO BALL: I bought 5 potato balls so I could eat one fresh and take the rest home for my family. These are fried mashed potato balls with a chili-like meat filling. The filling had a slight, but distinct bell pepper flavor. I'm personally not a big fan of bell peppers (I have to be in the mood to eat them) so I didn't really like the filling too much, but it was tasty overall. My bro engulfed his and when he finished he said, "I think I ate mine too fast. I want another." Haha! Too bad I only had one for each of us, but next time I'll know to buy more.
Opera Cake ($2.95)
OPERA CAKE SLICE: Has anyone seen the anime "Yumeiro Patissiere"? This is the cake that Kashino makes for his sister to convince her to allow him to become a pastry chef. Haha, because of that, I wanted to try it for myself. This cake tasted just like tiramisu, but with chocolate ganache. The official description stated that it was "Almond sponge cake soaked in coffee, layer of chocolate ganache, layer of mocha butter cream. Topped with chocolate." The slice itself isn't too big, but it's very rich. I cut pieces off to share with my friends, which left a little more than half the slice for myself and even that was a little too much for me. I love tiramisu and chocolate so this was really good, but I can only have it in small doses. 
Top: Cheese Rolls ($0.70 each), Guava and Cheese Roll ($0.75 each)
Bottom: Dulce de Leche Kiss ($0.50 each), Raspberry Kiss ($0.50 each), Blueberry Muffin ($1.15)

CHEESE ROLL: One of my friends loves these and almost bought 2 dozen, but he settled of just one dozen. These were very similar to a cheese danish but with a sugar coating instead of icing. The outside is like a flaky, buttery croissant with a outer sugar crust and slightly sweetened cream cheese filling. I thought they were pretty good, but didn't particularly like the sugar crust. I'd still buy these again though.

REFUGIADO (GUAVA AND CHEESE PASTRY): This was made of flaky puff pastry with a guava and cream cheese filling. I'm normally okay with guava, but I didn't really like this. It has a distinct guava flavor and when my mom bit into it, she knew instantly that she had had this pastry before. My bro doesn't like guava so he didn't like this at all. I won't be buying this pastry again.

DULCE DE LECHE KISS: This cookie has a buttery, shortbread-like outside with a dulce de leche filling. I really liked these. The center was chewy and not overly sweet even though they were dusted with powdered sugar. While I was in line, a few of the people ahead of me each bought a dozen of these so I thought I'd give them a try. I'm very glad I did and will be buying these again next time.

RASPBERRY KISS: These reminded me of the Knott's Berry Farm cookies. They had the same cookie outside as the Dulce de Leche Kiss, but with a raspberry filling. They actually reminded my brother of a Nutrigrain bar or a Fig Newton. Although they were tasty, I would pass on these the next time I go to Porto's.

BLUEBERRY MUFFIN: I thought this was a solid blueberry muffin with a lot of blueberries. I bought this because my friend's cousin recommended it, but I still like the fresh mini muffins from Souplantation the most. I wouldn't buy this muffin again in future visits, but I might try one of their other muffins.
Materva ($1.40)
MATERVA: And lastly, the Materva. According to the menu, this was an international soda that's only available at the Glendale and Burbank bakeries. I wasn't sure if I should choose the Materva, Malta, or Inca Cola (which are all only available at the Glendale or Burbank locations), but the saleslady suggested the Materva so I got that. (Haha, I bet I could've gotten this cheaper at a Hispanic supermarket! xP) Anyways, Materva is a yerba mate soda that tastes like red licorice in soda form. I'm not a big soda person so I only finished half the can, but it was interesting to try. Needless to say, I won't be getting this again.

Alritey, that concludes my adventure to Porto's. I wouldn't mind going back if I'm ever in the neighborhood again. There are also locations in Glendale and Downey so if those are closer to you, don't be afraid to check them out if you haven't already! (Haha, though I bet you already have since EVERYONE has tried Porto's! Now, including myself! :) ) 

Until the next adventure...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Conan TV Taping 05.26.2011

Hi all! :)

I recently scored tickets to see a Conan O'brien TV taping (Episode 1098 on 05/26/2011)! :O I know, I know... HOW DO I KEEP GETTING TICKETS TO ALL THESE RANDOM EVENTS!? Haha, I honestly don't know, but I consider myself VERY lucky! :) Conan tickets are given out by lottery so it's really all in the luck of the draw. I actually originally got tickets to the May 13th taping, but that show got cancelled and the Conan team rebooked me for the May 26th taping.

Being a Thursday, it was rather difficult finding people to go with me, but I managed to wrangle up 2 other friends.
We got there around 1pm. Even though it was still way ahead of the 2:30pm check-in deadline, I would recommend going there even earlier. We had to go through security, have our ID's checked, and then check in with the PAs (production assistants?), who gave us wristbands, our tickets, and a group number. Then, we were free to roam around the waiting area or leave to grab something to eat. The group number served to keep our place in line so I would suggest going early so you get a lower number and then going out to lunch somewhere nearby.
Tickets, Group Number, and Email Confirmation
Group #28 landed us in the middle of the right section of the audience, which isn't too bad, but it would've been cool sitting closer.
Burrito and Torta Truck
As we waited, one of the PAs informed us about a food truck that usually parks outside so when it came, we decided to try it. Neither I nor one of my friends had eaten lunch and it is always a good idea to eat before a TV taping. (I'm speaking from experience. *cough* Mad TV *cough* Catch 21 *cough* It's never fun finding yourself almost starving in the middle of filming! x__x)
Asada Torta
The truck itself was one of those no name "original" food trucks that mainly served burritos and tortas. (Haha, there's no fancy fusion food like kimchi quesadillas or honey feta fries here.) I got the carne asada torta. (Sorry about the crappy picture quality. These pics were all taken with my phone's camera since we aren't allowed to have camera cameras.) The meat was a bit on the dry side but the ingredients seemed fresh and it was a good pre-TV taping meal.
Water and Music Provided
Something that I loved about Conan's waiting area was that they provided water for everyone and music for people to listen to. They're so considerate of their audience! (When I went to the Mad TV taping ages ago, we had to stand outside in the sun waiting in line. Not fun.) Also, I wanted to note that the security guards are friendly and helpful too! It must be great working there! As a total aside, they also have some of the nicest port-a-potties I've ever been in. They still smell bad like regular port-a-potties, but there's AC and automatic sinks! Strange and yet kind of cool...
Conan T-shirt ($30 there, but $25 online)
Back of the Shirt
There was also a small merchandise shop that opened up while we waited. They had shirts, hats, and wristbands. I caved and ended up buying the shirt above because I liked the color and how the back said "I WAS THERE". (When I came home, I checked online and found that it was cheaper buying it online! D:< The prices were different for the women's shirts for some reason (with some being more expensive online while others were cheaper) so I suggest double checking the online prices before going to the taping if you're considering buying something.)
The waiting area
At 3pm, they started escorting groups to the studio. We were in the 3rd group (Groups #21-30). We walked through the WB lot and got to see where they film The Big Bang Theory (which is across from the old Friends set), Two and a Half Men, and a few other studios. I didn't get to take any photos since they made us turn off our phones, but the guests for the day were Dana Carvey, Mike Zohn & Evan Michelson (from Obscura Antiques and Oddities), and Tinie Tempah. The guests themselves didn't really interest me, but it was a fun experience. I was really hoping Tinie Tempah would sing more than one song (maybe even off camera for the audience present), but that didn't happen which was a bit disappointing.

Some things I noticed while filming: Andy Richter is actually a lot bigger in person! When he stood next to our MC warm-up/prep guy, it looked like Penn and Teller! Haha! The stage itself is also a lot smaller in person. As Dana Carvey said during filming, it really is a rather "intimate" experience. Case and point: one of the guys in the audience had a sign asking, "Can we touch your hair?" and during one of the breaks, Conan went up to him and let him touch his hair! How cool is that!? Just goes to show that Conan really cares about keeping his audience happy! :D

As we were leaving the taping, some people from the Lopez Tonight show stopped us and asked if we wanted to go to his taping. I wanted to because the guests seemed interesting (Randy Jackson, Russell Peters, and someone from Kiss), but my friends wanted to leave to go to the bathroom instead. -.- Perhaps next time... It's alright we didn't get to see them though. It gave us time to go to Porto's Bakery and grab dinner at Fuddruckers.
Conan Check-In is on Level 1
One thing I wanted to see before we left was the Warner Brother's tower, but I missed it! One of my friends spotted it as we were driving, but when we turned, a big building got in the way. Bummer... :( Oh wellz... next time, rite? ;)

"We're walking... we're walking... and we're stopping..." ~ Miss Information (Yay for everyone who remembers Animaniacs! :P)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bakery Adventure: 85C Bakery

85C Bakery
Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center
2700 Alton Parkway, Suit #123
Irvine, CA 92606

I have a confession to make: I'm in love. With a bakery!! I've been going to Asian bakeries since as far as I can remember but NEVER have I ever LOVED a bakery's bread this much!! The bread is so fresh and moist and everything I wish my own baking could be. I've never had anything like it! The bar has been set and it is HIGH, my friends!
85C Bakery Bread
Check out my haul! I don't live near Irvine nor go there regularly so I went a bit overboard. I really wish I could've tried everything they sold, but it wasn't in my budget and my waistline wouldn't have been too happy. But here is what I did try...

85C COFFEE BREAD: This is the bread that's on the bottom right corner of my haul pic. It was soooo moist with a crisp top coating that's similar to the tops of Chinese pineapple buns or Japanese melon pan. Inside, there was sweet red bean paste and soft mochi. It seemed like a strange combo - I mean, who would think to combine coffee, anko, and mochi? - but it tasted delicious together! I ate this right outside the bakery while it was still warm. Yum....

BRIOCHE: I must thank my friend, Deanna, for recommending this gem! This bread came out fresh right as we were paying at the cashier so we asked the cashier to grab some for us. It is so moist and fluffy! Not overly sweet... There's a slight sweet coating on the top and it was soooo good. My friend ate this as we sat outside and gave me a piece. It is too. die. for. when it is fresh! It's still extremely good the next day. Still very moist and fluffy! My family literally devoured it as I slept! *sneaky sneaky!* I would definitely buy this again! :)
85C Bakery - Brioche
COFFEE RAISIN BREAD: Strong coffee flavor with the sweetness of raisins and a bit of cheese flavor. Moist and chewy. It was good, but not my favorite.
85C Bakery - Coffee Raisin Bread
COCONUT TWIST: This is one of the most common buns one can find in Asian bakeries and somehow, 85C Bakery does it better! There's loads of coconut so this was made for you coconut lovers out there!
Coconut Twist
85C ROSE CHEESE BREAD: Deanna told me that this was one of 85C's most popular breads and I can see why! I couldn't really taste the rose, but I did notice that there were small bits of dried cranberries and I love those! There's also a sweet cream cheese filling. This turned out to be one of my brother's favorites.
85C Rose Cheese Bread
85C Rose Cheese Bread (cross section)
WALNUT MILK BREAD: This bread was moist like all the others, but I didn't find anything memorable or spectacular about it. Compared to the other buns and breads, we felt that this was a bit on the "eh" side. Don't get me wrong, it's still very good, but we liked the other pastries more.
Walnut Milk Bread
CHOCOLATE CHIP BOWL: Another moist bread, but with chocolate chips. I thought I would really like this because I like chocolate, but I found that this was my least favorite item out of the bunch. There was something about the chocolate chips that I didn't really like, but I can't put my finger on what it was.
Chocolate Chip Bowl
HONEY CAKE: I love honey cake! 85C's has a strong honey flavor and is moist and soft.
Honey Cake
HONEY CHOCOLATE CAKE: I can't say anyting about this cake because I didn't get to try it! I'm so sad! I did get a picture of it. (Though, that's small consolation. :T ) This is on my list of things to buy the next time I visit.
Honey Chocolate Cake
I ate these buns/breads/cakes over the course of a week and miraculously, not one of them dried out or became stale! It really blows my mind! I know I kept describing everything as "moist" but it really was! And I honestly don't know how they make their pastries that way! It is now one of my life goals to bake bread as moist and tasty as 85C's. My life has been changed and no bread is ever going to taste the same! I look forward to many more adventures to 85C Bakery.
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